This week, U.S. Rep. Laurel Lee, R-Fla., the chairwoman of the U.S. House Administration Subcommittee on Elections, delivered opening remarks at the subcommittee hearing entitled, “American Confidence in Elections, Ensuring Every Eligible Vote Counts.”
Lee said the following:
It is a first principle for our country that every voter, every eligible American citizen who wants to vote, must have the opportunity to cast a ballot within the time and in the manner specified by law—and, just as importantly—for that ballot to count according to law.
According to our Constitution, the states have the primary authority in election administration. They have the responsibility to determine election laws and to administer federal elections.
The role of Congress in elections is secondary: To provide oversight and to support the states in their efforts.
Our hearing today will highlight how voters across the country are demanding reforms to ensure that every eligible American voter can be confident that they will have access to the ballot box and that their ballot will be counted according to established law.
To most Americans, this is not difficult and it is not revolutionary.
While some extreme voices may claim that any effort to help voters have confidence in our elections systems and outcomes restricts access to the ballot box, that simply isn’t what most Americans believe and it is certainly not the work of this committee.
Most of us agree that our federal elections in each state and territory should be governed by a standard of rules: that are in place before balloting starts; that are understandable to the average voter; and that provide protections to ensure all lawful ballots count—but no others.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, efforts to boost voter confidence and improve voter integrity include:
Working to bring trust to our elections by making the process easy to understand;
Bringing transparency through openness for election observers, public access to voting machine testing, and strong communication with the voting community; and
Helping to remedy weaknesses in the system by requiring voter identification, strong chain-of-custody requirements for all ballots, and continuously updating training for our neighbors who volunteer their time as poll workers.
These sorts of reforms have been implemented in states like Georgia, which has seen incredible voter turnout as voters’ confidence in the system has improved.
In New York, voters rejected a number of elections-related ballot initiatives that would have weakened some protections.
And in several states across the country, legislatures have made efforts to modernize their election systems to address voters’ concerns and ensure the integrity of the process and the confidence of the public.
It’s important that we work together because if voters trust our elections systems with tasks like ensuring all voting machines are working properly and that there are a sufficient number of ballots available, voters are more likely to have confidence in our elections and in our election results.
I look forward to hearing from our key witnesses from states across the country, as they share their success and provide insight into the ways voters in their states are following this framework to promote voter confidence.
As the former chief elections official in Florida, I know firsthand the success which led to our work in the elections field and what led to our success in election administration. Engaging directly with voters was one of them.
Ultimately, when voters have confidence their ballot will be counted, they vote.
Our role as the Subcommittee on Elections is to examine areas of improvement in the election administration process and to empower states to make any necessary changes that will ensure every eligible vote counts.
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