The so-called "For the People Act of 2021" — H.R.1 legislation that the House will vote on later this week — represents an ambitious Democratic effort to steamroll federal government control over how states run national elections, enable the U.S. Congress to breach foundational separation of powers over an independent Supreme Court, and restrict First Amendment free speech rights.
Most particularly, the nearly 800-page package is stuffed with an uber-progressive wish-list of provisions that, if passed by the Senate, would institutionalize and expand conditions surrounding the 2020 elections which have undermined public confidence and produced contested outcomes.
The Federalization of Elections:
H.R.1 will override a constitutional guarantee that state legislatures, not the federal government, will establish election practices.
Passage of the bill will override all state laws requiring validation of legitimate mail-in voters to be notarized or signed by witnesses from having to submit "any form of identification as a condition of obtaining an absentee ballot," except a signature or "affirmation."
In other words, whereas personal ID verification is required in order to fly on an airline — or to attend a Democratic convention — it is somehow deemed to be an unnecessarily intrusive requirement in exercising a constitutional right and privilege to influence who will represent our electorate.
Delayed and Contested Results:
Such undocumented mail-in ballots would be issued to anyone who requests one with no excuses necessary, and if postmarked in time, late-arriving ballots would continue to be considered valid nationwide for 10 days after "Election Day."
But don't expect the federal government to hold some state elections to even that restriction. New York's 22nd Congressional District didn't determine a victor for 97 days, resulting instead in an "Election Quarter."
An alarming 6.6% of 10,097 late-arriving Pennsylvania 2020 ballots lacked legible postmarks to establish when they were submitted, and a state Senate seat outside Pittsburgh turned on whether, or not, to count mail ballots that voters neglected to date.
One county tallied them. The neighboring county didn't.
Conflicting Federal/State Requirements:
Similar H.R.1 questions hold for state conflicts with other federal mandates. For example, would mail ballots be accepted 10 days late in the race for president, but not for a governor?
The bill also says that convicted felons who have been released from prison can't be denied the right to vote in federal elections. This would seem to be incongruent with the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution which allows certain individuals to be barred from voting for "participation in rebellion, and other crimes."
Some felons, however, would still be eligible to vote in state elections. This begs another practical question of whether county election officials would be required to maintain two sets of voter lists and two sets of ballots.
A Ballot Harvesting Bonanza:
H.R.1 would also overrule all state ballot harvesting restrictions, allowing Americans nationwide to "designate any person" to return a vote so long as the carrier "does not receive any form of compensation based on the number of ballots."
The bill also mandates that states "may not put any limit on how many voted and sealed absentee ballots any designated person can return." This will still allow hourly-billed partisan operatives to collect thousands of door-to-door or nursing home votes.
Violating a Separation of Powers:
H.R.1 would allow Congress to create a commission to determine a "code of conduct" for judges of the Supreme Court. This will serve as an open invitation for federal House and Senate partisans to gin up ethics complaints and phony calls demanding recusals from decisions that they believe run counter to their desired outcomes.
We have already watched this ugly and unconstitutional scene play out in a transparently bogus impeachment campaign against Justice Brett Kavanaugh. As a co-equal branch of government, Congress cannot set standards for the actions of another co-equal branch.
First Amendment Encroachments:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization that most typically supports Democratic Party policies, opposes H.R.1 because many of its provisions would "unconstitutionally impinge on the free speech rights of American citizens and public interest organizations. They will have the effect of harming our public discourse by silencing necessary voices that would otherwise speak out about the public issues of the day."
Among these free speech impingements, H.R.1 gives federal bureaucrats powers to control political speech through a new category of regulations called "campaign-related disbursements" which apply to nonprofit advocacy groups and others interested in communicating about public policy issues.
Such restrictions would include public communications that mention a specific candidate for federal office and attacks or supports that candidate without regard to whether the communication expressly advocates a vote for or against the candidate.
Included are all public communications that meet the current law's definition of "electioneering communications." Radio and TV adds that merely mention a candidate or officeholder by name would be subject to significant new regulatory compliance costs involving all internet political speech that doesn't constitute paid advertising.
Follow the Money:
H.R.1 would create a scheme of public funds to match small political contributions at a 6-to-1 rate, whereby a $200 donation would be eligible get an additional $1,200 from "the government." The match money would come from a 4.75% surcharge on fines and penalties paid by businesses or corporate officers.
Sure, small donors are the salt of democracy. But nevertheless, why should this entitle the recipients for gigantic subsidies paid for by other taxpayers who may very well strongly disagree with their policies and qualifications?
Incidentally, the top-five list for share of funds coming in from small donors includes two socialists, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders.
No, despite its lofty-sounding moniker, the "For the People Act," is not about people like you and me.
Rather, it is for politicians who are bent upon seizing powers to limit our constitutional rights and control us.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 10 books, "What Makes Humans Truly Exceptional," (2021) is available on Amazon along with all others. Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.