Opinion: Jan. 6 was a tragedy. Busting the filibuster would be, too.The Honorable Mike Pence
Lives were lost and many were injured, but thanks to the selfless and courageous work of law enforcement, the Capitol was secured, and Congress was able to reconvene the very same day and complete its work under the Constitution and laws of the United States.
In the year since that fateful day, states across the country have enacted measures to try to restore confidence in the integrity of our elections while ensuring access to voting for every American. Georgia, Arizona and Texas have led the way with common-sense reforms, such as requiring verifiable identification on absentee ballots and using cameras to record ballot processing.
Despite this steady progress of state-based reforms, now come President Biden and Senate Democrats with plans to use the memory of Jan. 6 to attempt another federal power grab over our state elections and drive a wedge further into our divided nation.
Their plan to end the filibuster to allow Democrats to pass a bill nationalizing our elections would offend the Founders’ intention that states conduct elections just as much as what some of our most ardent supporters would have had me do one year ago.
Under the Constitution, elections are largely determined at the state level, not by Congress — a principle I upheld on Jan. 6 without compromise. The only role of Congress with respect to the electoral college is to “open, present and record” votes submitted and certified by the states. No more, no less. The notion that Congress would break the filibuster rule to pass a law equaling a wholesale takeover of elections by the federal government is inconsistent with our nation’s history and an affront to our Constitution’s structure.
Democrats in Congress don’t like the way many states have governed over the past year. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently compared Republican state officials to “violent insurrectionists” who stormed the Capitol because they had the audacity to pass legislation designed to eliminate voter fraud.
Biden and the Democrats’ plan advancing in Congress would massively increase opportunities for election fraud, further erode confidence in our elections and deliver an irreversible victory for the radical left.
The plan would mandate the most questionable and abuse-prone election rules nationwide, while banning common-sense measures to detect, deter and prosecute election fraud.
For example, states would be forced to adopt universal mail-in ballots, to provide same-day voter registration, online voter registration, easier voter registration through motor vehicle department offices and a minimum 15 days of early voting. Duplicate voter registration records would abound, states’ voter-ID requirements would be dramatically weakened, and anyone, including undocumented people, who simply signed a sworn written statement claiming to be eligible to vote would be permitted to do so. The opportunities for voter fraud would explode.
States would also be required to count every mail-in vote that arrives up to seven days after Election Day. Ballot harvesting — wherein which paid political operatives collect absentee ballots from places such as nursing homes — would be legal nationwide, exposing our most vulnerable voters to coercion and increasing the risk that their ballots would be tampered with.
Our Founders were deeply suspicious of consolidated power in the nation’s capital. They also were rightly concerned with foreign interference if presidential elections were governed by or decided in the capital. Those were among the reasons the constitutional convention settled on state-based elections and limited the role of the federal government in the election of the nation’s leaders.
Jan. 6 was a dark day in the history of our nation that was overcome by the courage of our Capitol Hill police and the willingness of the elected representatives of the American people in both parties to keep their oaths and uphold a constitutional framework that has been the bulwark of the freest and most prosperous nation in history.
With this anniversary passed, I call on my former colleagues in the Senate to do as you did before: Uphold the right of states to conduct and certify elections. Reject this latest attempt to give Washington the power to decide how the United States’ elections are run. And keep the oath you made before God and the American people to support and defend the Constitution.