GOP bill would require DC to change requirements for voters

Republicans sharply criticized D.C.’s election system during a congressional hearing Wednesday, arguing that various problems illustrate the need for GOP legislation that would force the District to change its voting requirements.

Democrats pushed back, charging that Republicans are trying to use D.C. to open the way for a broader agenda to undermine voting rights.

The joint hearing of the House Administration and House Oversight committees was the latest congressional effort by Republicans to zero in on issues in the District, including the rise in crime.

“For years, D.C. elections have been mismanaged,” said Wisconsin Rep. Bryan Steil, chair of the House Administration Committee.

Steil said that in 2020, when D.C.’s Board of Elections sent ballots to all city residents, 11% were found to be “undeliverable.” That was nearly 50,000 of the ballots sent out.

Steil and other Republicans are critical of several voting provisions allowed by D.C., including same-day voter registration, the lack of a requirement to show identification at the polls and allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections, which is scheduled to start next year.

Republicans have proposed the American Confidence in Elections Act, which would require D.C. — but not states — to enact various reforms.

Steil questioned Monica Evans, the executive director of the D.C. Board of Elections, about voter identification.

“In Washington, D.C., if you’re a D.C. resident, you’d need a photo ID to get on an airplane,” Steil said. “You’d need a photo ID to buy a 6-pack of beer. Do you need a photo ID to vote in a D.C. election?”

Evans said that when an individual shows up to a voting center, “they do not need to submit a voter identification.”

Evans pointed to a wide range of steps that are taken to ensure that votes are fully accounted for and accurately counted. Democrats often came to her defense during the hearing, pointing out that a database from the Heritage Foundation has no cases of certified voter fraud in D.C., going back to 1979.

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, accused Republicans of trying to again politically beat up on D.C.

“The only plausible reason for this legislation today is for people, who really know nothing about local Washington, D.C. beyond Capitol Hill, to use D.C. as a whipping post, a guinea pig and a sacrificial lamb in their effort to constrict the vote,” Raskin said.

But Republicans defended their legislation, which was supported in testimony by former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is now with the conservative Election Transparency Initiative.

If the GOP bill were to get to a floor vote and pass in the House, it’s unlikely to be taken up in the Democratically-controlled U.S. Senate.

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Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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