The Nov. 4, 1944, edition of The Saturday Evening Post featured a series of paintings by Norman Rockwell. They illustrate the idealized sanctity of America’s electoral process.
The most well-known of the illustrations features the caricature Junius P. Wimple, an average person, making an informed decision on whom to vote for from the security and privacy of the voting booth. Junius is confident that the process will play out and that the election will be free and fair. It’s safe to say that people largely agree upon the tenets of the Rockwell ideal, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum. Such civic ideals transcend party lines.
But in 2021, it’s worth asking what might be undermining the Rockwell ideal and our faith in a fair and secure electoral process. I would suggest a few examples might include prohibiting states from requiring voters to show photo identification before voting, prohibiting states from requiring potential voters to prove their citizenship before registering to vote, making it more difficult for states to remove voters who have moved or died, limiting the ability of states to determine if someone is registered in other states, stripping states of their constitutional authority to set their own election laws, and implementing one-size-fits-none standards on all 50 states.
Unfortunately, Congress is poised to vote on H.R. 1, the "For the People Act," as early as next week, a bill which contains all of the above provisions and more. As the president of FreedomWorks, I work every day with grassroots conservatives who are opposed to these provisions. But recent polling of the general electorate shows that voters by and large are opposed as well — and by a substantial margin. How can people trust the system and embrace the Rockwell ideal if they are not on board with the changes Congress seeks to make?
The bill would, for example, prevent states from cleaning up their voter rolls less than six months ahead of an election. This would mean that people who have either moved or died could not be removed from the list of eligible voters. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed oppose this provision, however, and want states to be able to clean up and remove ineligible voters from their lists. Sixty-five percent of voters polled oppose limiting the ability of states to determine if someone is registered elsewhere, yet the bill seeks to prevent states from doing so. Clean voter rolls are critical to ensuring that only legal votes are counted.
On the question of voter identification, 79% of people support requiring photo identification for voting. But of course, being counterintuitive to everything that people want out of their elections, the bill includes a provision to prevent states from checking identifications. Regarding prohibiting states from requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote, 59% are opposed. The bill nevertheless prevents states from knowing whether those voting in their elections are even U.S. citizens.
Voters from both sides of the aisle clearly support the Rockwell ideal. Still, Congress is poised to enact legislation that would significantly undermine it. This bill not only weakens the ability of all 50 states to ensure election integrity, but it also contains provisions that the people simply do not support.
The 2020 election was closer than predicted. In fact, Republicans may have come within 90,000 votes of all levers of power in Washington. If elections are going to be this close for the foreseeable future, why shouldn’t we do everything possible to ensure that people can at least trust the process?
Congress should take note.
Adam Brandon is the president of FreedomWorks.