Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana, has gone on Twitter to criticize sweeping election and ethics legislation that would eliminate partisan gerrymandering, bring transparency to anonymous contributions to political groups and strike down hurdles to voting, claiming the measure “destroys election integrity.”
The 791-page bill, which passed the House in a 220-210 vote split largely along party lines Wednesday, would require states to automatically register eligible voters, offer same-day registration, hold at least 15 days of early voting, allow no-excuse absentee balloting and mandate that nonpartisan commissions handle the process of redrawing congressional district boundaries instead of state legislatures, among dozens of other provisions, The Associated Press reported.
Pence was among the 210 House members voting against the legislation.
The legislation would also require political groups to disclose anonymous donors, as well as create reporting requirements for online political ads, according to wire reports. It would appropriate nearly $2 billion for election infrastructure upgrades limit states’ ability to purge registered voters from their rolls and restore former felons’ voting rights.
Pence took to Twitter on Wednesday, claiming in a one-minute video that the measure would force states to permanently expand mail-in voting, implement online voter registration, automatic voter registration, same-day registration and legalize ballot “harvesting,” which generally refers to individuals who collect and return completed and sealed absentee or mail-in ballots on behalf of others.
It is unclear what issue Pence specifically has with online voter registration or which third parties, if any, he feels should be allowed to return absentee-by-mail ballots, as both are part of Indiana’s current election system. The Republic has reached out to Pence for a comment, but he has not responded.
Indiana has used an online voter registration system since 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In this past election cycle, many Bartholomew County residents registered to vote online at indianavoters.in.gov.
Ballot collecting also is legal to varying degrees in many states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Indiana currently allows people to return absentee-by-mail ballots on behalf of others provided that they live in the same household.
The bill would allow voters to designate a third party of their choosing to return their absentee or mail-in ballot on their behalf “so long as the person designated to return the ballot does not receive any form of compensation based on the number of ballots that the person has returned,” according to the text of the bill.
Indiana does not currently allow automatic or same-day voter registration, instead using the U.S. Postal System to verify a voter’s address when they register. The voter registration deadline in Indiana is usually around 28 days before Election Day.
Pence did not respond to requests for comment to clarify his claims about what the bill would do.
“Left-wing politicians are doing everything they can to ensure they are in power and that big government grows and grows and the swamp never goes away,” Pence says in the video.
The bill, which good-government groups have championed, is advancing against a backdrop of Republican-controlled states seizing on former President Donald Trump’s false claims about a stolen 2020 election to push legislation that would make it more difficult to vote, according to wire reports. Democrats argue that voters of color, a key constituency for the party, would be disproportionately affected.
It also comes on the cusp of a once-in-a-decade redrawing of congressional districts, a highly partisan affair that is typically controlled by state legislatures, according to wire reports. With Republicans controlling the majority of statehouse, the process alone could help the GOP win enough seats to recapture the House. The Democratic bill would instead require that the boundaries be drawn by independent commissions.
To Republicans, the proposal amounts to a massive federal intrusion into locally-administered elections.
Many Republicans in Congress, including Pence, have focused on narrower aspects, like the creation of a public financing system for congressional campaigns that would be funded through fines and settlement proceeds raised from corporate bad actors.
Some Republicans also have attacked an effort to revamp the federal government’s toothless elections cop, according to The Associated Press. That agency, the Federal Election Commission, has been gripped by partisan deadlock for years, allowing campaign finance law violators to go mostly unchecked.
In another video posted on Twitter Wednesday, Pence criticized provisions in the bill that would create a public financing system for congressional campaigns, claiming “Democrats’ No. 1 priority is putting money in their pockets.”
“You as a voter would never be able to get rid of an incumbent,” Pence said in the video.
Now, the bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate, which is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, according to wire reports.
On some legislation, it takes only 51 votes to pass, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker. On a deeply divisive bill like this one, they would need 60 votes under the Senate’s rules to overcome a Republican filibuster — a tally they are unlikely to reach.
Some Democrats have discussed options like lowering the threshold to break a filibuster, or creating a workaround that would allow priority legislation to be exempt, according to wire reports. President Joe Biden has been cool to filibuster reforms and Democratic congressional aides say the conversations are fluid but underway.
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To watch Rep. Greg Pence’s speeches on the voting rights legislation, visit twitter.com/RepGregPence/status/1367187625845661704 and twitter.com/RepGregPence/status/1367143099613532162.