What’s in the Republican election reform bill?
BACKGROUNDER | The American Confidence in Elections Act would nationally require a voter ID to obtain a mail-in ballot
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Discussion of election integrity before 2024 may prompt renewed attention on the American Confidence in Elections (ACE) Act, a bill introduced by conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives this summer. The bill looks to heighten ballot security by providing election integrity tools to states and implementing policy reforms federally.
Why are Republicans focused on election integrity? According to the Center for Election Innovation & Research, only 32 percent of Republicans surveyed in a December 2022 poll believed the last presidential election had been run “very well” or “somewhat well.”
What’s in the bill? The 224-page draft of the ACE Act would nationally require a voter ID to obtain a mail-in ballot. It would also implement in-person voter-ID requirements in the District of Columbia. While the text of the bill strongly encourages the use of voter ID among the 50 states and lays out provisions for its use, states have ultimate power over election administration: The bill can’t force a state to adopt prescribed measures. However, the authors claim regulatory power over how mail-in ballots are processed because of Congress’ constitutional mandate to oversee postal services.
What else? Additionally, the bill aims to provide states with Social Security death lists to prevent fraudulent votes from being cast for deceased individuals. Another notable portion of the ACE bill would forbid any part of the federal government from requiring donor disclosure from nonprofit organizations. The bill’s chief architect, Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., claims the legislation would make it harder to circumvent election safeguards and would strengthen voter confidence in elections.
What opposition has the bill encountered? Some critics claim the bill’s measures will discourage voter participation. Organizations like the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights have taken issue with the voter ID requirements, arguing they will make it more difficult for stay-at-home voters to request ballots. The group, alongside 45 other signatory organizations, expressed its concerns in a July 13 letter to Congress.
What’s next for the ACE Act? During September, the attention of the House will likely be focused on the appropriations process. With the possibility of a government shutdown on the horizon, consideration of the ACE bill will likely have to wait until at least the beginning of October. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who largely controls what pieces of legislation come to the floor, has shown support for the bill and says that election reform remains a high priority for the GOP. Should the ACE Act reach the floor, it stands a good chance to pass the chamber, but in its present form it would likely encounter stiff resistance from the Democratic-controlled Senate.
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