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AG Derek Schmidt: Hyper-partisan federal election legislation violates Constitution, threatens election integrity

Release Date: Mar 05, 2021

TOPEKA – (March 5, 2021) – Federal election legislation approved Wednesday by the U.S. House of Representatives would violate the U.S. Constitution and intrude on state legislatures' authority over elections and must be defeated by the U.S. Senate, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.

Schmidt joined a coalition with 20 other state attorneys general in a letter to U.S. Senate and U.S. House leaders objecting to the legislation on constitutional grounds. Schmidt also wrote separately to U.S. Senator Jerry Moran and U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, both representing Kansas. 

“As introduced, the Act betrays several Constitutional deficiencies and alarming mandates that, if passed, would federalize state elections and impose burdensome costs and regulations on state and local officials,” the attorneys general wrote, noting that the U.S. Constitution places with the state legislatures, not with Congress, primary authority for safeguarding the manner of conducting elections. “The Act would invert that constitutional structure, commandeer state resources, confuse and muddle elections procedures, and erode faith in our elections and systems of governance.”

The legislation, captioned H.R. 1 and named the “For the People Act of 2021,” has been described as the top legislative priority for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and was approved 220-210, with no Republicans voting in favor. It contains numerous provisions that impermissibly intrude on state authority to establish the manner of conducting elections, including:

  • Mandating nationwide mail-in voting
  • Requiring states to accept late ballots
  • Overriding state voter identification laws like the law in Kansas
  • Mandating that states conduct redistricting through unelected commissions
  • Mandating nationwide automatic voter registration and Election Day registration
  • Restricting the ability of states to remove illegitimate voters from registration rolls
  • Requiring certain political organizations to disclose their donor lists thereby creating an ability to censor groups with whom the bill’s authors disagree

“[I]t is difficult to imagine a legislative proposal more threatening to election integrity and voter confidence,” the attorneys general wrote. “Around the nation, the 2020 general elections generated mass confusion and distrust – problems that the Act would only exacerbate. Should the Act become law, we will seek legal remedies to protect the Constitution, the sovereignty of all states, our elections, and the rights of our citizens.”

Because of an administrative error, Schmidt’s signature was mistakenly omitted from the original version of the letter. A copy of the letter and Schmidt’s separate letter joining it, along with Schmidt's letter to Kansas's two U.S. Senators, are available at https://bit.ly/3uQYCmW.

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