The Trump campaign is pressing its case that last week’s ballot counting was off, and it will get its day in court. But if Republicans want a fuller accounting of the shenanigans, they’ll need to look much further back than Election Day. They’ll need to internalize Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 1, and then do battle.
House Resolution 1 is the designation for the first bill unveiled in any new Congress. It’s designed to highlight the majority party’s top priority. In early 2017, the Republican-led House gave the title to Donald Trump’s tax reform. When Mrs. Pelosi retook the speaker’s gavel in 2019, her party had just campaigned on a slew of urgent Democratic priorities: health care, climate change, immigration, student debt. None of these rose to the honor of H.R. 1.
Instead, Mrs. Pelosi unveiled a 600-plus page bill devoted to “election reform.” Some of the legislation was aimed at weaponizing campaign-finance law, giving Democrats more power to control political speech and to intimidate opponents. But the bill was equally focused on empowering the federal government to dictate how states conduct elections—with new rules designed to water down ballot integrity and to corral huge new tranches of Democratic voters.
The bill would require states to offer early voting. They also would have to allow Election Day and online voter registration, diluting the accuracy of voting rolls. H.R. 1 would make states register voters automatically from government databases, including federal welfare recipients. Colleges and universities were designated as voter-registration hubs, and 16-year-olds would be registered to vote two years in advance. The bill would require “no fault” absentee ballots, allowing anyone to vote by mail, for any reason. It envisioned prepaid postage for federal absentee ballots. It would cripple most state voter-ID laws. It left in place the “ballot harvesting” rules that let paid activists canvass neighborhoods to hoover up absentee votes.
Democrats grandly named their bill the For The People Act, but conservatives had better titles. This page called it the “Majority Preservation Act,” while the editors at National Review described it as an “Unconstitutional, Authoritarian Power Grab.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decried the bill as a “naked attempt to change the rules of American politics to benefit one party,” and dubbed it the “Democrat Politician Protection Act.”