Republican Sen. Mike Lee says Democratic voting rights bill was ‘written in hell by the devil himself’

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, questions Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on September 27, 2018.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, questions Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on September 27, 2018. Andrew Harnik/Getty Images
  • Sen. Mike Lee compared House Democrats to the “devil” over democracy reform and voting rights legislation.
  • “Everything about this bill is rotten to the core,” Lee told Fox News.
  • The far-reaching bill would boost transparency around campaign finance and expand voting rights.
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Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, on Wednesday compared House Democrats to the “devil” for authoring and passing major democracy reform and voting rights legislation known as HR 1.

“Everything about this bill is rotten to the core,” Lee told Fox News of the legislative package. “This is a bill as if written in hell by the devil himself.”

HR 1, which is also known as the For the People Act and passed the House largely along party lines earlier this month, would reform campaign finance, set stricter rules for lobbyists, and widen access to voting, including by expanding voter registration, mail and early voting, and election security measures.

The senator said he disagrees with “every single word in H.R. 1, including the words ‘but,’ ‘and,’ and ‘the'” and argued that Congress is attempting to undermine state control over elections “in an effort to ensure an institutional, revolutionary Democratic Party of sorts, one that can remain in power for many decades to come.”

“This takes all sorts of decisions that the federal government, really, has no business making – takes them away from the states, makes them right here in Washington, DC by Congress,” he went on.

While the Constitution delegates most of the authority over elections to the states, it still has the power to oversee and pass legislation concerning the administration of federal elections.

Congress has previously passed major, nationwide election reform legislation in bills including the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

-Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 10, 2021

Because the Senate filibuster requires a 60-vote majority to pass legislation, H.R. 1 faces serious challenges to passage in the upper chamber.

Some voting rights advocates, including powerful Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, have argued that the Senate filibuster should be reformed to allow civil and voting rights legislation like H.R. 1 to be more easily adopted.

H.R. 1 requires states to enact online, automatic, and same-day voter registration and to give voting rights to the formerly incarcerated, and softens voter ID laws by allowing voters to sign sworn affidavits instead of showing an ID. It is already a federal crime to lie about your identity while casting a ballot.

The bill also requires all states to hold 15 days of early voting as well as no-excuse mail voting while offering online ballot tracking, prepaid postage, and the option for voters to return their ballots at drop boxes.

Notably, many of H.R. 1’s provisions are already in place in Utah, which Lee represents and has won two statewide elections in over the past decade. Utah has online and same-day voter registration, offered two weeks of early voting in most counties in 2020, and has a non-strict non-photo ID law that allows voters to sign an affidavit if they don’t have the required ID.

And beginning in 2018, Utah has sent all registered voters a mail-in ballot, which goes beyond H.R. 1’s requirement for states to simply allow voters to request a ballot without an excuse.