Government Institutions & Election Integrity - Meet the Freshmen

Government Institutions & Election Integrity

While the 117th Congress will forever be known as the Congress that withstood an attack on a free and fair election, the 118th Congress may ultimately have an even more lasting effect on American democratic institutions.

House Democrats began the last Congress by passing HR 1, the For the People Act, which would expand access to the ballot box, impose greater ethics enforcement, and increase transparency for campaign donations.[1] Later in the year, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA-30) introduced the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which would rein in presidential power, shore up election security, and bolster Congress’s role as a check and balance against the Executive Branch.[2] Both bills passed the House but could not reach a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

In response to the January 6th effort to disrupt the electoral count, both houses of Congress took on the issue, passing the Electoral Count Reform Act in the Senate, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), and the Presidential Election Reform Act in the House, sponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-18) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY-At large).[3]

As Democrats took these steps at the federal level, several Republican-controlled state houses worked to curtail voting rights, and the 118th Congress could have intense debates over those issues. Mail-in voting and national voter ID laws–like one proposed by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR-04) in 2021–could be considered this year if Republicans take control. In his policy agenda for the 118th Congress, National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) suggested eliminating mail-in voting and ballot drop-boxes, instead mandating that all votes be counted by hand, rather than by tabulation machines.[4] [5]

Democrats also hope to codify certain individual rights–namely, the right to abortion and same-sex marriage–into federal law in response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

[1] “HR 1 – The For the People Act,” US House of Representatives Committee on House Administration, accessed November 7, 2022, available at

[2] HR 5314 – Protecting Our Democracy Act, December 13, 2021, available at

[3] Alex Tausanovitch, “Electoral Count Act Reform Is Now Within Reach,” Center for American Progress, September 27, 2022, available at

[4] HR 1529 – VOTER ID Act, March 2, 2021, available at

[5] “Fair, Fraud-Free Elections,” Rescue America, accessed November 7, 2022, available at

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