Steil & Lee Lead Effort to Enhance Integrity of American Elections

“By increasing confidence in our elections, more people are likely to vote and participate — and that’s a good thing.”

WASHINGTON, DC – With questions about voting irregularities still fresh on the minds of many American voters, The Ripon Society hosted a breakfast discussion yesterday morning with two leaders in Congress who have introduced legislation intended to help put those questions to rest heading into next year’s campaign.

The leaders were U.S. Reps. Bryan Steil (WI-1) and Laurel Lee (FL-15). Steil was elected to the House in 2018 and serves as Chairman of the House Administration Committee. Lee was elected last year after having previously served as Florida’s Secretary of State, where she oversaw the way elections are conducted in the Sunshine State. They are the authors of The American Confidence in Elections Act, a bill designed to promote transparency, increase security and efficiency, and make sure states have access to resources and best practices to do elections right.

“It is an election integrity bill that makes it easy to vote, hard to cheat, and is the most conservative and substantive election reform bill that would hit the House floor in probably over 20 years,” Steil said of the measure, in remarks to kick off the discussion. “It’s got three key pillars. It talks about how we give states the tools to enhance their election integrity, it cleans up Washington, DC, and it protects our First Amendment rights.”

Steil and Lee introduced the measure this past July – not in Washington, DC, but in Atlanta, Georgia.

“We went to Atlanta because Georgia passed an election integrity bill that the Left vilified,” Steil explained, referring to the state-passed measure that gained nationwide attention in 2021. “President Biden also made false claims about the legislation. Ultimately, many groups would buy into these claims — including Major League Baseball. Major League Baseball would pull the All-Star game out of Atlanta. So, we went to Atlanta the day before this year’s All-Star game to introduce our bill.”

They also went to Atlanta, Steil added, to debunk the President’s claims.

“The true empirical data tells us almost the opposite of what President Biden said,” the Wisconsin lawmaker stated. “What we really saw was a near record turnout. And the University of Georgia did a very significant survey of people’s voting experience. People’s voting experience was incredibly high.”

“That’s important, because I believe that as we enhance voter election integrity, what we do is increase people’s confidence in our elections. By increasing confidence in our elections, more people are likely to vote and participate — and that’s a good thing.”

Lee agreed.

“As election officials, I would often say we have two jobs,” she said, referring to her previous job as Florida’s Secretary of State. “One is to get it right — secure accurate elections with a high degree of efficiency and integrity. And the second is to make sure that we’re talking to the public and sharing what we’re doing so they walk away with the feeling that they understand what we’ve done and have confidence in the outcomes and the results.

“One thing that has been a subject of a lot of public discussion of late is the concept of the accuracy of the voter rolls. That is one of the cornerstones of good election integrity — particularly in states where we’re doing voting by mail. And in Florida we do. I think voting by mail can be a good thing. It can be done securely. But in order to do that, it’s important that we ensure that a ballot is going to a registered voter and is coming back from a registered voter, and that there are safeguards in place to be sure that that is what’s happening.

“One of the most important things that we’re doing to help states in this piece of legislation is allowing state and local election officials to access federal databases. For example, the Social Security Death Database … it’s really vital that we be able to identify and provide local election officials with access to that so that they can keep their rolls clean.”

According to Steil, making sure states have access to this kind of database and other tools the federal government may have in Washington, DC to enhance election integrity is the first pillar of The American Confidence in Elections Act.

The second pillar of the legislation, the Wisconsin lawmaker continued, addresses Washington, itself.

“Washington, DC has one of the most disastrous election administration operations in the nation,” he stated bluntly. As an example, he pointed to a law in the capital city that allows foreign nationals to vote in local elections.

“An individual who is a Russian national working at the Russian Embassy,” he noted, “after residing in Washington, DC, for 30 days, could walk out of the Russian Embassy, have their Russian passport in their pocket, walk down to a voting location next year, and vote for Mayor … Our law ends that practice, because we believe that American elections should be for American citizens.”

The two lawmakers also believe, Lee added, that elections in America should also remain under state control.

“We recognize the constitutional principles that are at issue here,” she stated. “We have been very mindful in this legislation of doing the things that are appropriate for the federal government to do, not doing the things that should be left to the states, but rather to focus on providing resources.”

Steil concurred, and concluded his remarks by expressing optimism that the bill – which has been approved by the House Administration Committee — would be brought up for a vote on the House Floor in the not-too-distant future.

“Over 50 percent of all House Republicans are already signed on as co-sponsors,” he stated. “We continue to work with remaining members to build awareness of this legislation. I am firmly convinced that we’ll have an opportunity to bring this to the Floor and pass it, and it will be a significant piece of our Commitment to America.”

To view the remarks of Steil and Lee at yesterday’s breakfast discussion, please click the link below:

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.