Gary Palmer elections bill passes Committee

Gary Palmer Official

On Thursday, Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL06) announced that the House Committee on Administration has passed his legislation – the Citizen Ballot Protection Act.

“Free and fair elections are something the citizens of this nation expect,” Rep. Palmer said. “However, slowly but surely, noncitizens around the country are being given the ability to participate in a process sacredly reserved for citizens. This creates endless opportunities for fraud, which will counteract restoring faith in the American election process,” said Rep. Palmer. “The American people should be certain their vote is not being erased by noncitizens. My bill passing in committee is the first step in amending the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to give states the ability to verify the citizenship status of their voters when they register. I look forward to seeing the Citizen Ballot Protection Act being passed on the House floor.”

The U.S. Constitution gives states the responsibility of overseeing federal elections. Those state powers have been restricted by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and, more recently, by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (also known as the “NVRA” or “motor voter law”). That federal legislation sets forth certain voter registration requirements for federal elections.

Section 6 of the NVRA requires states to accept and use the U.S. Election Assistance Commission federal mail voter registration application form. It also permits states to create and use their own mail-based form as long as the form meets certain requirements. Section 9(b) of the NVRA lists the requirements for information collected by the federal election voter registration forms. The contents of the mail voter registration form may require information that:

·         Identifies the applicant, including their signature

·         Relates to a previous registration

·         Helps state election officials assess the eligibility of the applicant

It also requires that that form shall include a statement that:

·         Lists each eligibility requirements, including citizenship

·         Confirms the applicant meets each requirement

·         Requires the signature of the applicant, under penalty of perjury

The NVRA forbids the states to include any requirement for notarization or other formal authentication.

All state modifications to the federal mail voter registration form are reviewed by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The EAC and courts have begun interpreting the prohibition of notarized or other formal authentications as justification for denying states the ability to require documentary proof of citizenship with the federal mail voter registration form. Some examples include:

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona could not require docu­ment­ary proof of citizenship on the federal registration form without EAC approval.

In 2021, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that a previous 2016 EAC approval for Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas to include proof of citizenship violated the Administrative Procedures Act.

Palmer’s bill – the Citizenship Ballot Protection Act, establishes the option for states to add a proof of citizenship requirement to their mail voter registration form.

Palmer said that this:

·         Respects and upholds the role of states to administer federal elections.

·         Gives states the option to add more security to their voter registration process.

·         Helps states that have proof of citizenship requirements, such as Arizona, to streamline their registration process so both their version of the federal mail voter registration form and the state’s regular voter registration form can have the same review process.

Palmer is serving his fifth term in the House, representing Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District. He is running for reelection.

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