WASHINGTON — Congress is beginning debate on the biggest overhaul of U.S. elections law in a generation.
House Resolution 1, introduced by Democrats, would touch virtually every aspect of the electoral process — striking down hurdles to voting, curbing partisan gerrymandering and curtailing big money in politics.
Republicans see those very measures as a threat that would limit the power of states to conduct elections and ultimately benefit Democrats.
The stakes are enormous with both control of Congress and President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda in the balance. But at its core, a more foundational principle of American democracy is at play: access to the ballot.
The introduction of the bill comes as statehouses across the country — many of them controlled by Republicans — are weighing imposing stricter voter ID laws, curbing mail-in voting and other measures that would restrict access to the polls.
“These aren’t controversial reforms,” Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., told the Associated Press. Sarbanes also noted that many of the provisions included in House Resolution 1 were derived from recommendations of a bipartisan commission.
However, Republicans view the bill as an unnecessary intrusion into an aspect of democracy that should be controlled by states. According to the Associated Press, Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., excoriated the bill during a hearing last week, saying that “800 pages of election mandates and free speech regulations” would pose a “threat to democracy” and would “weaken voter confidence” in elections.