A group of 23 state attorneys general sent a letter to leaders in Congress on Tuesday that threatened to file a lawsuit over a Democrat voting bill if it becomes law.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who led the group, addressed the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“The bill, as introduced, would allow the United States Department of Justice to usurp the authority states rightly possess over their own elections, essentially federalizing the election system,” the letter said.
“If these provisions are enacted, rest assured that the undersigned will aggressively defend our citizens’ rights to participate in free and fair elections without unconstitutional federal intrusion,” it said.
The coalition of attorneys general also noted their concern about making the Department of Justice an “election czar” that would hold power over states’ laws.
“H.R. 4 seeks to flip this Constitutional mandate on its head, turning the Department of Justice into a federal ‘election czar,’ wielding the power to challenge any new or existing election law based on the whims of the party in power and its desire to manipulate election laws to increase its chances to remain in power,” the letter said.
The attorneys general said the plan would not pass constitutional muster.
“Giving the Department of Justice unlimited authority over state election laws is not only unnecessary but also unconstitutional,” they wrote.
Senate Democrats plan to reveal a revised version of the voting bill on Tuesday.
“The Freedom to Vote Act is a step towards protecting that right for every American. We also have an obligation to restore faith in our democracy, and the common sense provisions in this bill — like flexible voter ID requirements — will do that,” West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said, according to The New York Times.
Several changes have been included in the updated version of the legislation.
“The revised measure would also require that states allow at minimum 15 consecutive days of early voting, including two weekends; ensure that all voters can request to vote by mail; establish new automatic voter registration programs, and make Election Day a national holiday,” the Times reported.
“The legislation would mandate that states to follow specific criteria when drawing new congressional districting lines and would force disclosure of donors to so-called dark money groups.”
The effort seeks to build upon previous versions of the voting legislation that have failed to pass in the Senate. The House approved the so-called For the People Act earlier this year, but it did not meet the threshold of 60 votes to move forward in the Senate.
Republican senators are unlikely to join the latest version supported by Manchin, regarding of revisions. Instead, the effort will most likely continue to stall in the Senate.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed an election integrity bill into law last week following months of wrangling — which included state Democrats fleeing to Washington to avoid voting on the bill — and a lawsuit to stop the bill is already in progress.
“Senate Bill 1 will solidify trust and confidence in the outcome of our elections by making it easier to vote and harder to cheat. I look forward to signing Senate Bill 1 into law, ensuring election integrity in Texas,” Abbott said in a statement, according to Fox News.
I’m signing Texas’ election integrity bill into LAW today in Tyler, Texas.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) September 7, 2021
“Senate Bill 1 creates uniform statewide voting hours, maintains and expands voting access for registered voters that need assistance, prohibits drive-through voting, and enhances transparency by authorizing poll watchers to observe more aspects of the election process,” a news release from Abbott’s office said.
“The bill also bans the distribution of unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots and gives voters with a defective mail-in ballot the opportunity to correct the defect.”
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