Legislation would prohibit election security grants from going to states that ignore the U.S. Constitution and rewrite election law by going around state legislatures


WASHINGTON—United States Senators Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) today introduced the PROTECT Electoral College Act, a bill that will protect the Electoral College process and the authority it commits to state legislatures to set election laws by prohibiting federal election security grants from being awarded to states that are unconstitutionally disregarding state election laws.


“The Constitution rightly commits the authority of state elections to state legislatures, not Congress, but Congress must protect the Electoral College and should not subsidize an unconstitutional process in which state election laws are trampled on, like we saw in some states in 2020,” said Senator Hagerty. “Democrats are already advancing H.R. 1, a sweeping proposal that would federalize elections. This is a radical policy that would effectively require states to use insecure election practices that are highly susceptible to fraud. I will fight such legislation while working on constructive solutions like the PROTECT Electoral College Act to safeguard every American’s vote, restore confidence in our elections, and preserve our system of federalism. Tennessee taxpayer dollars should not be sent to subsidize unconstitutional election practices in other states.”


“Democracy is held together by people’s confidence in elections and a willingness to abide by their results,” said Senator Rubio. “While I believe the results of the presidential election were correctly decided, there is absolutely no doubt that the actions taken by some states raised serious constitutional questions. We cannot allow that to happen again, which is why I’m proud to join Senator Hagerty in supporting this legislation to safeguard every American’s vote, restore confidence in our elections, and preserve our system of federalism.”


“Instead of working with Republicans to craft reasonable election security improvements, Democrats have taken a two-pronged approach to enact an extreme vision for America’s elections. While Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats push a bill to federalize elections that tramples on free speech and states’ rights, liberal activists are working at the state level to undermine the Electoral College and take away the voice states like North Dakota have in choosing our president. Both efforts must be stopped,” said Senator Cramer. “Our bill protects the integrity of the Electoral College, preserves the constitutional duty of states to oversee elections, and ensures taxpayer dollars are not used to violate existing election laws. Enacting it would be a common sense way for Congress to help restore the American people’s trust in our elections.”


Leading up to the 2020 presidential election, Congress appropriated over $800 million in election security grants for states, including states in which activists unconstitutionally changed the election rules established by the state legislatures. Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution is clear that elected, accountable state legislatures—not activist judges, not election officials or commissions, not lawsuit settlements—have sole responsibility for setting the presidential election rules in their states. Yet, in several battleground states in the 2020 election, non-legislative actors changed the election rules in the middle of the game, despite having no constitutional authority to do so. In effect, Hagerty, Rubio, and Cramer’s legislation would prohibit federal taxpayer dollars from being used to aid and abet states in modifying their election procedures in violation of the U.S. Constitution.


The legislation, which is supported by Heritage Action, would amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to condition future election security grant awards on certification by the state legislature that: (1) Any mail-in voter verification procedures are established in statute; (2)  Unsolicited mail-in balloting and ballot harvesting are prohibited, unless specifically authorized by statute; (3) Non-statutory, emergency COVID-19-related election procedure changes will end once the public health emergency is over; (4) Ballot counting observation laws and HAVA provisions are followed; and (5) The state has rectified any previous noncompliance with these provisions or departures from state election statutes.


The legislation would also require the Comptroller General of the U.S. to submit a state-by-state report on whether increased unsolicited mail-in balloting, changes to mail-in voter verification procedures, ballot harvesting, or material alterations to election procedures occurred during the 2020 election and, if so, what state authority or directive led to such changes. The report must also cover whether, in each state, there were specific allegations of failing to comply with ballot counting observation laws or other election laws.  Finally, the report must detail the state’s use of election security funds in connection with the 2020 election, including whether they were used for any activities detailed in the report, and note whether the state legislature has taken subsequent action on any such matters.