Remarks on H.R. 1, the For the People Act
Congressman Case's remarks in support of H.R. 1, the For the People Act and his amendment, which was adopted.
Madam Chair: I rise in strong support of H.R. 1, the For the People Act I am proud to have co-introduced, which includes my amendment to further facilitate voting by all eligible Americans through the best-practices expansion of vote-by-mail elections.
Our For the People Act is a truly revolutionary bill that will implement many of the most critical government reform efforts we need to get government working for the people again, such as fighting voter suppression, simplifying voting, promoting election security, curbing special interest and dark money in politics, incentivizing smaller and broader donations, increasing transparency and fortifying ethics laws.
While I applaud the efforts and amendments of my colleagues that incorporate lessons learned in this past election, like ensuring Americans with disabilities have access to voting and verification infrastructure, I believe more can and must be done to analyze the greatest possible utilization of mail-in voting throughout our nation. My amendment, which has been accepted by the House and added to the bill, is needed because we should know what went well and what needs improvement as we look to responsibly expand voter access by mail.
Heading into the 2020 election, five states – Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah and my Hawai‘i – held universal vote-by-mail elections, with no-excuse absentee voting being an option in 34 states and the District of Columbia. The growing concerns over the safety of in-person voting during the COVID-19 pandemic prompted an additional 11 states to make it easier to vote by mail using absentee ballots.
The prevalence and easy access to vote-by-mail led, in part, to record voter turnout in the last election. Roughly two-thirds of eligible voters case a record 158.4 million ballots, with nearly 65 million ballots cast using the mail. This is a dramatic increase from the 2016 elections, where roughly 34 million Americans cast a ballot by mail.
In my Hawai‘i, which performed its first universal vote-by-mail election in the 2020 primary elections, vote-by-mail increased election accessibility across-the-board, especially for our kupuna (elders) and those in underserved communities for whom in-person voting is problematic, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hawaii’s most recent primary election resulted in the highest voter turnout percentage for a primary election in our state’s history, and more people voted in Hawaii’s general election than ever before. We demonstrated to ourselves and the rest of the country that we can hold an all-mail election with virtually no fraud claims or disputed election results.
Despite Hawaii’s success, I am sure we can do even better, and there are best practices that can be shared amongst the states across our nation to encourage the even more widespread adoption of vote-by-mail. Thus, my amendment simply directs the Election Assistance Commission to conduct a study on vote-by-mail efforts in 2020 elections and develop recommendations to help states better administer their elections in the future. My study and the recommendations that will come from it can help improve vote-by-mail procedures and systems to ensure the right to vote to all eligible Americans while protecting the integrity and security of our elections.
I thank this House for supporting my amendment, and urge this body to support final passage of the underlying bill. The For the People Act will truly deliver on our obligation to help renew Americans’ faith in government by making sure it is of and for the people.
Mahalo (thank you).