How We Move Forward on Election Integrity

Op-ed at from Rep. Budd

The events of January 6th were horrifying, distressing, and deeply painful for our country. Mob violence is never acceptable and those who engage in it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

What I and more than 120 of my colleagues were trying to do on January 6th was engage in a Constitutional process of debating issues related to the integrity of our elections. This was never about overturning the election result, it was about forcing a discussion that millions of Americans wanted us to have.

While the result of the election was not what Republicans had hoped for, the need for election reform has not gone away. In November and December, I introduced several bills to improve how we administer elections in our country, and I plan to reintroduce them in the 117th Congress. In early 2019, Speaker Pelosi wrote that one of the goals of her Democrat majority was to, “restore faith in government, so that people can have confidence that government works for the people.” If Democrats are serious about unity, they will work with Republicans to ensure that every citizen’s vote is sacred.

One of the most comprehensive bills we can act on is the Combat Voter Fraud Act. It directs the Department of Justice and the Attorney General to create a national strategy to combat and prevent voter fraud in the United States. Under my bill, the Department of Justice will determine best practices for the prevention of common issues like voter intimidation, fraud, ballot system glitches, sabotage, hacking, and audits.

Another legislative option is the Securing and Verifying Elections in America (SAVE) Act. This bill takes several important steps to ensure the integrity of our elections including: requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote, stricter requirements for mail in voting, implementing strategies to reduce duplicate voter registrations, and more. The bill also increases criminal penalties for anyone who fraudulently votes by mail and creates a national hotline to allow individuals to report fraud in federal elections. 

Finally, I have common sense legislation like the You Must be Alive to Vote Act. This bill withholds certain federal funds from counties that cannot annually certify that they have expunged deceased individuals from their voter rolls. Even in this divisive climate, I think we can all agree that we should not allow dead people to cast ballots.

We should not let the despicable actions of a small group of criminals obscure the ongoing need to reform our election systems. In the end, faith in our government is at stake. Faith in our institutions rests on whether or not people believe that their vote counts. The way to restore this faith is to demonstrate that we hear their concerns and act accordingly. Bullying each other in partisan warfare will not get the job done. In fact, it will only make solutions less likely. I hope that we can come out of this period of darkness with renewed resolve to listen to the American people and to act in their best interests.

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