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Sec. of State Wyman: New voting laws would ‘force us to make changes’ in Washington

(Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Debate begins this week as supporters are launching campaigns to encourage Congress to pass the “For the People Act” — or H.R. 1 — which aims to change national voting laws.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that the Evergreen state already has automatic registration for people that get an enhanced drivers license, and pre-registers 16 and 17 year-olds. We also have same-day voter registration.

“The problem with H.R. 1, for even Washington, is that it is so prescriptive, it’s going to force us to have to make changes to our system,” Wyman said, adding that being out of compliance would mean “tons of litigation in 2022.”

The Senate bill, similar to a version passed by the House earlier this month, could shape election outcomes for years to come, striking down hurdles to voting, requiring more disclosure from political donors, restricting partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, and bolstering election security and ethics laws. H.R. 1 would more broadly open ballot access by creating automatic voter registration nationwide, allowing former felons to vote and limiting the way states can remove registered voters from the rolls. It would expand voting by mail, promote early voting, and give states money to track absentee ballots.

The bill would increase oversight for election vendors and boost support for state voting system upgrades after Russia attempted to breach some of those systems in the 2016 election. It would overhaul federal oversight of campaign finance and encourage small donations to campaigns, while requiring more disclosure of political donations. And it would require states to adopt independent redistricting commissions to draw congressional districts and give more teeth to federal ethics enforcement.

Ahead of the 2020 election, Wyman defended Washington state’s voter laws and processes as some of the most secure in the nation.

“You can ensure with the current system that no matter how many ballots you’re given, only one will be counted for you,” she said.

H.R. 1 is expected to get its first debate in the Senate on May 11.

Democrats newly in control of both chambers of Congress say they are trying to rebuild trust in the ballot after two tumultuous election cycles. Republicans charge the bill would strip power from the states and cement an unfair political advantage for Democrats.

The legislation is meant to counter the more than 250 bills that have been introduced in 43 states that would change how Americans vote, according to a tally by the Brennan Center for Justice, which backs expanded voting access. Some measures would limit mail voting, cut hours at polling places and impose restrictions that Democrats argue amount to the greatest assault on voting rights since the Jim Crow era.

Republicans say the new mandates would amount to a federal takeover of elections, which have traditionally been left to states.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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