The Washington Times Weekly

Messaging war on election reform

- By David McIntosh David McIntosh is the president of Club for Growth.

In the aftermath of the 2020 election, 64% of Americans support strengthen­ing election safeguards to ensure our elections are free and fair. But right now, Democrats are winning the messaging war. The irony is that the American people are on the same side as Republican­s. Voters want real election reform and want to feel confident that our elections are secure. What voters do not want are the policies included in H.R. 1 and the Senate’s version of the bill, S. 1.

The so-called For the People Act would be disastrous for this country and do nothing to restore Americans’ faith in our elections. Instead, the bill would widen the political divide by forcing a range of flawed policies on states that don’t want or need them.

The bill allows taxpayer money to be used to fund political campaigns, virtually abolishes voter ID laws, undermines our First Amendment rights and forbids anonymous speech. The legislatio­n even is a direct attack on federalism, as Washington would control elections instead of the states.

But new polling from the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) finds that these ideas are wildly unpopular with the American people and can provide key insights into how Republican­s can win the messaging war on election reform.

First off, it is important that Republican­s highlight how H.R. 1 would make all federal elections funded by tax dollars. In total,

56% of likely voters strongly disagreed/ somewhat disagreed that elections should be funded with taxpayer dollars. Only 31% strongly agreed/somewhat agreed.

It is not surprising that voters don’t want their taxpayer dollars to fund candidates they disagree with, including all those annoying attack ads on TV or online. The American people know there are better ways to spend their hard-earned tax dollars.

Democrats try to explain this away by claiming the funding will come from new corporate penalties. However, this money is still coming from the same general pool of funds and should be spent on roads and schools, not political consultant­s.

Another policy in H.R. 1 that Republican­s should highlight is that the legislatio­n would virtually abolish voter identifica­tion laws by forcing states to accept the ballots of voters who don’t have the necessary identifica­tion.

Voter ID requiremen­ts are widely popular, as 72% of likely voters are very concerned/somewhat concerned when asked about states not requiring a photo ID when one requests an absentee ballot. Overall, a majority of Republican­s, Democrats and independen­ts support voter ID laws.

But you wouldn’t know that from Democrats. When Republican­s push for voter ID laws, they get falsely called racist and accused of disenfranc­hising voters.

The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth as these laws are about securing our elections and increasing transparen­cy, not suppressin­g the vote. Study after study has found that voter ID lawsdon’t reduce turnout or otherwise suppress the vote.

And lastly, Republican­s must emphasize that H.R. 1 would force states to mail ballots to every registered voter, even if they didn’t request it. This change could lead to thousands of ballots being sent to the wrong address or stolen from mailboxes of those unaware that they were getting a mail ballot.

It seems like commonsens­e that a voter must request an absentee ballot to get one, but H.R. 1 flips this logic on its head. Flooding America with unneeded ballots creates vulnerabil­ities fraudsters could use to cast fake votes.

Voters are skeptical of this provision, as the idea of universal mail-in voting is very unpopular with voters. Seventy-one percent surveyed said they were very concerned/somewhat concerned by the practice.

The good news is that it is not too late for Republican­s to win the messaging war on H.R. 1 and ensure all our future elections are free and fair. More than anything, Republican­s need to go on the offensive and explain why H.R. 1 shouldn’t be passed.

Last week, Club for Growth launched digital ads in West Virginia and Arizona urging voters to call Sens. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, and Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona Democrat, and tell them to vote no on H.R. 1.

It looks like the strategy is working, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, signaled that the vote might not happen until mid-April, suggesting that Democrats don’t currently have the votes.

Voters already agree with Republican­s on the need for election reform and that the policies in H.R. 1 would set our country backwards. Conservati­ves just have to do a better job at messaging our cause to the American people.

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