Pence attacks Democratic voting bill, 2020 election integrity in op-ed
Former Vice President Mike Pence is lending his voice to the conservative outcry against Democratic voting reform proposals.
In an op-ed for The Daily Signal, a blog affiliated with the conservative Heritage Foundation where Pence is a fellow, he repeated conservative grievances about security in the 2020 presidential election.
And citing the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, Pence noted the “tragic events” had “deprived the American people of a substantive discussion in Congress about election integrity in America.
That day, Pence presided over the accurate certification of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as the winners of the presidential election. Rioters, many of whom believed Pence had the power to unilaterally overturn the election results, were recorded chanting “Hang Mike Pence” and “Bring out Mike Pence” during the violence.
Pence’s comment is a reference to Republican House members and senators who voted to contest the election results, ensuring debate on the legitimacy of the electoral process and state certification in swing states where Republicans claimed there were widespread irregularities. Arizona’s electors were challenged, but debate about other states fizzled after the U.S. Capitol riot.
“Every citizen deserves the freedom to support, oppose, criticize, or promote the candidates and causes they believe in,” Pence stressed. “And most importantly, the American people must have the utmost confidence that every voice matters, and every vote counts — or democracy cannot survive.”
Vice President Mike Pence finishes a swearing-in ceremony for senators in the Old Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP)
Allegations of widespread voter fraud in the election are unfounded. Federal investigators, the judicial system, state legislatures and the news media all conducted thorough investigations that debunked claims of fraud or wrongdoing.
Related: The House is going to vote on a sweeping voting rights act. What’s in it?
What is H.R. 1?
In his op-ed, Pence took considerable aim at H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a sweeping package of election reforms proposed by Democrats. The bill is meant to counter voter suppression, partisan gerrymandering and the influence of special-interest dark money in politics, proponents argue. Republicans have claimed the bill would give Democrats an unfair advantage in elections.
“HR 1 mandates the most questionable and abuse-prone election rules nationwide, while banning commonsense measures to detect, deter, and prosecute election fraud,” Pence argued in his column.
“Leftists not only want you powerless at the ballot box, they want to silence and censor anyone who would dare to criticize their unconstitutional power grab,” he cautioned.
During his speech on Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, former President Donald Trump called the bill a “disaster” and a “monster” and said it would threaten Republicans’ ability to win elections.
Pence did not attend CPAC.
Fact check: 5 falsehoods Trump repeated at CPAC, from election fraud to Texas’ wind power
The sentiment, rooted in Trump’s unfounded conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud in the November election, has found a receptive audience in conservatives across the country.
In dozens of states, Republican lawmakers are pushing voting restrictions through state legislatures, including measures that would strictly limit mail-in-voting, increase voter ID requirements, allow state legislatures to overturn election results and add restrictions to in-person voting times and locations.
Proponents argue the drastic steps are meant to curb voter fraud, while voting rights advocates have said the efforts will cause voter disenfranchisement, especially among minority voters.
“HR 1 is an unconstitutional, reckless, and anti-democratic bill that would erode those foundational principles and could permanently damage our republic,” Pence warned in his op-ed.
The House of Representatives is expected to pass H.R. 1 later this week. The bill faces a steep challenge in the Senate, where Republicans will likely filibuster the package, meaning at least 10 Republican senators would have to vote with Democrats to vote on the matter.
Debates over voter enfranchisement have haunted American politics since the country’s beginnings. With both parties primed to see fights over the ballot box itself as key to their political futures, and the country’s as a whole, the issue will likely persist for some time to come.
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