Even before he lost his reelection bid, former President Donald Trump has been obsessed with challenging and changing election laws. Should he find himself back in the White House, his allies are hoping to turn that obsession into legislative action.
Trump is expected to mount another bid for president in 2024. And as talk of such a campaign has grown more concrete, so too has speculation over what type of agenda he’d actually pursue.
Some answers can be found in the work being done by America First Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank stacked with former Trump administration officials. Among the group’s 20 main policy priorities, which include trade, immigration and education, is promoting more comprehensive voter restrictions in the name of election integrity. Officials describe it as a priority.
“One hundred percent yes,” AFPI President and former Trump White House Domestic Policy Council Director Brooke Rollins said of having legislation on a set of issues ready to go should Trump prevail in a 2024 election. “If we do our job right we will have a package of model legislation for the federal government and the state governments where they align.”
Rollins said she hoped Trump wouldn’t need to push election legislation because states would have done so themselves. But she left open the door for him to fill that void. “We have the fall, spring state legislative sessions,” Rollins said. “We have many shots at getting it right before the next presidential election.”
What precise election-related legislation Trump would push in Congress is unclear. AFPI has launched a Center for Election Integrity, led by former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and former Trump campaign spokesperson Hogan Gidley, to promote voter ID, clean out voter rolls, require ballots be returned by Election Day and stop the practice of ballot harvesting. But those efforts have been state-oriented and Republicans have balked at federalizing the election system. Already this year, 19 states have enacted 33 laws making it more difficult to vote.
Trump has embraced the concept of national voter ID laws, as have other prominent Republicans. Early in his first term in office, he put together a commission on suspected voter fraud and placed it under the purview of one of the country’s most aggressive advocates of restrictive voting laws, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. That ended in failure, however, after lawsuits were filed and states pushed back on voter data requests.
Trump has made no secret that his No. 1 priority is relitigating the 2020 election. He’s encouraged key states to conduct “audits” on the results and to overhaul election laws he claims promote voter fraud, even though there is no evidence of widespread irregularities and officials have called the 2020 election the most secure in American history.