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Power over elections belong in Montana

by J. Christian Adams
| May 2, 2021 12:00 AM

Congress is considering a bill that would strip Montana of one of its most basic powers – the power to govern their own affairs.

A monster 700 page bill called H.R.1 has already passed the House of Representatives that takes away power to run Montana’s elections and send it to Washington D.C. The bill would do so many bad things there isn’t space to cover it all.

It would mandate ballots to roll in ten days after the election. It bans voter ID. It prohibits Secretary of State from cleaning voter rolls from deadwood.

H.R.1 takes the power away from the people’s representatives to draw legislative lines. It even mandates that criminals convicted of voter fraud get their right to vote back!

That’s just the beginning. It also pays political candidates running for Congress a salary with your tax dollars, as hard as it is to believe.

Not only is H.R.1 full of bad ideas, it fundamentally transforms the relationship between Montana and the federal government. The most fundamental power the states kept in the Constitution was the power to structure their own political system.

If the states did not keep this power 234 years ago under the new Constitution, there would not have ever been a United States. The politicians in Congress supporting H.R.1 want to undo that original Constitutional agreement. They are the new nullifiers, trying to extinguish the original designs of our founding documents.

Power is best kept closest to the people, not in Washington D.C. Our elections are decentralized and given to the states to run because decentralization helps preserve individual liberty. The founders knew when power is centralized, especially power over elections, bad things tend to happen.

Elections certainly have consequences. But there are limits to what Congress can do, even a Congress completely controlled by the Democrat Party.

America has gotten this far because our Constitutional bargain kept power over elections with the states. Nobody in Washington D.C. has the power to undo that bargain. If they try, it will be a destabilizing blow to our Constitution.

—J. Christian Adams is the president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a former Justice Department attorney and current commissioner on the United States Commission for Civil Rights.