Lankford Warns Against Democrats’ Dangerous Election Takeover Bill
Lankford: “…the Heritage Foundation and the ACLU both oppose Senate Bill 1 and H.R. 1”
CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on YouTube.
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today spoke on the Senate floor to warn Oklahomans and the nation about the Democrats’ so-called “For the People Act” or H.R. 1/S.1. The bill is being sold to the American people as necessary to protect election integrity, but it is actually a massive federal takeover of our election and a way to force states to adopt dangerous practices like voter intimidation, voter suppression, federally funded elections, and ballot harvesting. Lankford also spoke out against the bill following President Biden’s joint address to Congress.
In this week of all weeks it’s been interesting to have a dialogue about Senate Bill 1, a long markup in the Rules Committee, to be able to talk about voting in America. Now I was at the White House several years ago when the First Step Act was signed. It was a remarkable bill dealing with criminal justice reform. And as I was at that White House signing ceremony and that gathering of all these different folks that been engaged. It was interesting to me to stand in that room with President Trump and to have folks from the Heritage Foundation and folks from the ACLU in the same room, shaking hands, smiling, and saying, ‘This is a good piece of legislation.’
In fact it’s the only time that I can remember sitting at a signing ceremony, watching people form two different perspectives say they both support something so strongly—that was the First Step Act.
I have now seen my second time that that’s occurred, when both the Heritage Foundation and the ACLU both oppose Senate Bill 1 and H.R. 1. They’ve both come out in opposition to this. Well that’s an interesting gathering of folks to be able to gather together from both political extremes and be able to look at a piece of legislation—all 880 pages of it—and to say, ‘That’s a bad idea.’ Why would they say that? Well, let me count the ways of why they would say that.
In my state in Oklahoma, we have great voting engagement. Good. We want to make it easy to vote. We want to make it hard to cheat. We want as many people as possible to be able to vote and as many people as possible to be able to engage in the process. That’s the nature of a republic like ours. But we also want to be able to follow up on that process as well to be able to make sure if someone’s actually breaking the rules on that, we follow up. And in our state, we do.
Recently I followed up with our state leadership for voting to be able to find out what happened in our last election, what are we doing. We found 57 people as a state that voted twice in my state.
All 57 of those names are turned over to local district attorneys and they’ll start following up with those individuals because that’s the violation of the law to be able to vote twice in our state. Fifty seven names is not very many, but it’s because we continue to enforce the law in our state, to make sure we have as many people voting as possible but also accountability for people that want to be able to cheat in the system. The interesting thing about Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1 is that they make it much easier to cheat in the process. They set up a different system where you can actually have no voter ID on it.
And it’s not just no voter ID, it’s no voter ID and same day registration combined. You can literally walk into a polling place that you’re not registered for, not show an ID and say I’m not registered I’d like to vote and not show an ID and also vote same day in that spot. There’s no way to verify then one way or the other if this person’s voting twice because no one knows. In my state that has great voter ID laws it would take gut that and would take it away from our state though no one is complaining about voter ID laws in my state. You can show an ID... you can show anything in my state just to verify it’s actually you. Because we want people to be able to vote, but we just want to make sure it’s that person that’s actually voting. That used to be a common, accepted practice to say that why would we want to create an environment where we would make it easy to be able to cheat.
Senate Bill 1 also creates ballot harvesting, forces it around the entire country. Now folks may say I have no idea what that is. Well let me set up what it is. Ballots are mailed to your house and if you haven’t mailed it back in yet you may have a knock at the door to come to your door. As they come to the door it’ll be a political activist from one of the campaigns, and they would say, ‘Hey did you fill out your ballot yet? I know they got mailed out yesterday, have you turned it back in yet? Oh you haven’t? Grab your ballot inside, bring it on the front porch and I’ll help you fill it out right here on your front porch. And I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll also go turn it in for you. You don’t even have to mail it I’ll go deliver it for you.’ That’s ballot harvesting. In most states that’s illegal. They want to make it legal in every single state. That’s an invitation for fraud.
There is a difference between I want to help facilitate everyone to be able to vote and to be able to protect their rights to vote and actually creating opportunities for fraud where everyone doubts every election.
That’s not the right way to be able to go. I want to make sure we all look at an election at the end of it and say we can trust that. One of the ways that we can trust it is through a Federal Election Commission that actually is bipartisan. We have a Federal Election Commission even number of Republicans and Democrats. They want to change that to where it’s five members, not six, and the last member that’s the tie breaker is someone that is selected by the president would be ‘independent.’ I’m sure that’s going to work out just fine. That’s not going to end up being a partisan individual.
In my state, all of the ballots are done ahead of time. If you do a mail in ballot, those ballots are opened early on, there’s Republican and Democrat, there are poll watchers that are watching it. All of the evaluation for the quality of that ballot are all tested before election night. So that’s all finished so that when election night is done, by 10:30 in the evening all of the ballots have been counted and the election results are out. Oh no that won’t work. My Senate Democrat colleagues want to give an additional 10 days for ballots to continue to be able to trickle in. So literally what we had in this last election where it was for days no one even knew how many ballots were coming in and the uncertainty that that creates in the process, they want to make sure that exist in every state, not just a few states. Look, I’d rather have every state look like mine. To say, everyone has to turn their ballot in early, it’s not like Election Day is a shocking day that no one knew about. In fact the majority of states around the country are like my state.
It's not just a partisan issue, Vermont has the same rule that we have in Oklahoma. This is a straightforward way to be able to protect the integrity of the ballot. You can turn in the ballots early, you can evaluate all of them so the ballots aren’t trickling in for days. If you love all those rules, let me give you one more quick one.
You remember that campaign commercial that you really really hate? That you’re sick of by the time the election comes? Well get ready for a whole lot more of them because Senate bill 1 gives federal dollars six to one to be able to fund more campaigns to make sure campaigns have even more money. So if someone raises $100,000 their going to give federal tax dollars, $600,000 to that candidate. Even the candidate that you didn’t vote for, don’t like. They’re going to get $600,000 for every $100,000. They raise a million dollars for their campaign, they’ll get $6 million of federal tax dollars. I don’t want to pay for campaigns I don’t agree with. I don’t think that’s the right way to go.
And I don’t bump into many people in my state that get real excited about paying for someone else’s campaign that they disagree with. Now you might think that this bill is the result of the 2020 election, that they pulled it out and said, ‘That election was such a shambles, we need to be able to put a bill out there to do that.’ But you’d be incorrect. Actually this bill is exactly what they pulled out in 2017, saying that Russia took over the election in 2016, so we need a big bill to be able to fix it. And for four years they’ve been pushing it, and now, after this election, they pulled it out again, and said, ‘We’ve got to be able to do this.’
It’s the same bill. It used to be the bill to fight Russia. Now it’s the bill to be able to fight whatever now.
Listen, let each state make those decisions. And when there’s a challenge for that, take it to federal court. That’s why we have the court system. All those federal courts to be able to process through those challenges. We want every person to be able to be protected to be able to vote, and if some state is suppressing the vote, take that to federal court, and let’s solve that and to be able to make sure that does not occur.
But don’t tell everyone in my state Washington, DC, knows better. We have Republicans and Democrats that have worked very hard on election law in my state. In fact, there was just an expansion of additional days for early voting in my state. It’s been a nonpartisan issue in my state. Let’s not make it a partisan issue now, and tell everyone across the country, DC knows best. Let’s put this bill aside and not pass Senate Bill 1.
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