In Washington, congressional Democrats have rallied around H.R. 1, which has already passed in the House and would establish specific voting rules that states would be required to follow for federal elections, empowered by Congress’s clear constitutional authority to “make or alter” state regulations governing the “Times, Places and manner” of holding such elections.
But as this legislation is pending, the Republican state legislative movement to burden the exercise of voting rights proceeds apace. Iowa has already done so, Georgia is poised to act shortly, and others may follow suit.
Congress should consider a targeted federal law to counter this march of these draconian state laws. And it could be designed in such a way that some Republicans would support it — or find it uncomfortable to explain why they wouldn’t.
This law would make clear that a state may not revise its rules to restrict voting access in federal elections in specified areas — including the withdrawal of existing vote-by-mail opportunities and reductions in early voting — unless it is done on a bipartisan basis.
A core objective of this legislation — to protect the right to vote from partisan manipulation of the rules — would be to enhance public perceptions of the fairness of the political process. With one political party unleashing a national movement to sharply limit access to the franchise, claiming contrary to fact that the presidential election it lost was corrupted by fraud, Congress is well justified in asserting its constitutional authority in federal elections and bringing a halt to it.