Mike Pence Calls Proposed Election Reform Bill 'Reckless' and 'Anti-Democratic' in Op-Ed

With the House of Representatives expected to pass H.R. 1 this week, former Vice President Mike Pence has accused Democrats of pushing forward a "brazen attempt to nationalize elections in blatant disregard of the U.S. Constitution."

In an editorial published Wednesday by The Daily Signal, a conservative political news site, Pence asserted that H.R. 1—also known as the For the People Act—was "an unconstitutional, reckless, and anti-democratic bill that would erode those foundational principles and could permanently damage our republic."

He added that every proposed change in the 800-page legislation "serves one goal, and one goal only: to give leftists a permanent, unfair, and unconstitutional advantage in our political system."

The House began debate on the For the People Act on Tuesday, and could hold a full floor vote as soon as Wednesday evening. It's poised to pass the chamber, as every single Democratic member signed onto the bill on Monday.

The legislation would touch on nearly every piece of the electoral process. It would work to expand voter access, improve election security and integrity, and revise rules for political spending, among other measures. It would also require each state to establish an independent commission to redraw district lines following the census.

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.), the chair of the House's Democracy Reform Task Force who reintroduced the bill this year, said in a statement earlier this week that "the 2020 election underscored the need for comprehensive, structural democracy reform."

But Pence asserted that H.R. 1 would limit the power of states to conduct elections.

"Election reform is a national imperative, but under our Constitution, election reform must be undertaken at the state level," he wrote. "Our Founders limited Congress' role in conducting our elections for good reason: They wanted elections to be administered closest to the people, free from undue influence of the national government."

In response to Pence's editorial, Sarbanes told Newsweek in an email statement: "Mike Pence is Exhibit A of the corrupt status quo in Washington that H.R. 1 aims to tear down. Most Americans – including a majority of Republican voters – support the core elements of this historic and transformational reform effort."

mike pence election reform oped
Vice President Mike Pence visits Rock Springs Church to campaign for GOP Senate candidates on January 4, 2021 in Milner, Georgia. The former Vice President has written an op-ed calling a proposed election reform bill "reckless" and "anti-democratic." Megan Varner/Getty

While congressional Democrats are on board with the bill, it faces significant Republican opposition.

Pence's sentiments on the bill have been echoed by GOP leaders. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has deemed the election reform bill a "federal takeover," and said it would allow Democrats to "grab unprecedented power over how America conducts its elections and how American citizens can engage in political speech."

Polling, however, shows the bill has public support from both sides of the aisle. A Data for Progress survey last week found more than two-thirds of likely voters (68 percent) said they would back the proposal. Seventy percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independent or third-party voters, and 57 percent of Republican voters expressed approval for the bill.

Updated 12:31 PM ET: to include comment from Congressman Sarbanes.