TOPEKA – (June 4, 2020) – Legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives imposing significant new federal election mandates under the guise of COVID-19 recovery efforts would invade the constitutional prerogative of states to operate their own elections and would undermine election integrity, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt this week told the U.S. Senate.
Schmidt, along with 15 other state attorneys general, on Monday sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urging the Senate to reject the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act passed by the House of Representatives on May 15.
The HEROES Act includes provisions of the American Coronavirus/COVID-19 Election Safety and Security (ACCESS) Act that would, among many other new requirements, force states to provide mail-in ballots for all registered voters and block identification, notarization, or witness signature requirements as conditions for providing those mail-in ballots. Those provisions are contrary to Kansas law. It also imposes new submission deadlines for mail-in ballots, forces states to allow voters to designate individuals other than themselves to return ballots and prevents states from imposing limits on the quantity of ballots those designees may return.
“For many years, Kansas has allowed any qualified voter to submit a simple application form to request a ballot be sent to the voter by mail,” Schmidt said. “The process works well, is well-understood and long-established. Record numbers of Kansans have already requested mail ballots this year. But the new federal legislation would disrupt that well-settled Kansas process right in the middle of an election and would attempt to invalidate several Kansas requirements, such as providing proof of the voter’s identity as part of the application to request a mail-in ballot. This federal legislation is unnecessary to provide Kansans an opportunity to vote by mail and is a massive and ill-advised federal overreach into the conduct of elections.”
The attorneys general argue in the letter that the federal mandates “run roughshod over state election laws designed to maintain election integrity and root out voter fraud. These state laws exist to curb fraud and abuse.” Conversely, the federally-mandated mail-in ballot system considered in the HEROES Act “lacks the carefully considered state measures aimed at detecting, preventing, punishing, and ultimately eliminating voter fraud.”
A copy of the letter is available at https://bit.ly/2XvIIQb.