While Democrats aim to eliminate voter ID laws under the 800-page election bill H.R. 1, also known as the “For the People Act,” they contrarily flirt with the idea of mandating citizens show proof of COVID-19 vaccine or testing results.
According to H.R. 1, states are to be prohibited from requiring voter identification, including things like witness signatures, and notary stamps. This would ultimately overturn laws in 36 states, as noted by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“A state may not require an individual to provide any form of identification as a condition of obtaining an absentee ballot,” the legislation states, which passed in the House 22o to 210 on March 3.
Republican attorneys general, led by Indiana’s Todd Rokita, wrote in a letter to Congress in early March that the bill would erode faith in our elections and systems of governance.
“As introduced, the Act betrays several Constitutional deficiencies and alarming mandates that, if passed, would federalize state elections and impose burdensome costs and regulations on state and local officials. Under both the Elections Clause of Article I of the Constitution and the Electors Clause of Article II, States have principal—and with presidential elections, exclusive— responsibility to safeguard the manner of holding elections,” the letter stated.
Why would mandating proof of vaccination be acceptable if laws that reasonably mandate people demonstrate they are an American citizen by ID are not?
In an executive order in January, President Joe Biden urged government agencies “to assess the feasibility” of having COVID-19 vaccination certificates, and documents available for digital purposes. Subsequently, 30 airlines and travel organizations penned a letter to Jeff Zients, the COVID-19 Recovery Team Coordinator, telling Zients to take action on vaccine passports for international travel.
On March 9, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki fielded a question on “vaccine passports,” noting that “we recognize that as many Americans get vaccinated, questions will come up, and they’re already starting to come up, as to how people will be able to demonstrate they are vaccinated. I think it’s important to remember only about 10 percent of the American population is vaccinated at this point. We’ve obviously made progress, but we have more work to do.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a “Pilot Program” recently that forces New Yorkers to display an “excelsior pass” in order to gain entry to Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center. IBM has partnered with the state to deliver the program.
“The Excelsior Pass will play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way, allowing us to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal,” Cuomo’s press release read.
In February, the International Air Transport Association announced a new travel app that will provide the U.S. government and others with the vaccination status and COVID-19 test results for passengers.
“Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass’s ‘Wallet App,” Cuomo added. “Each pass will have a secure QR code, which venues will scan using a companion app to confirm someone’s COVID health status.”
The New York Times, who has been ardently in favor of H.R. 1, contemplated the idea of vaccine passports.
“There are clear upsides: grandparents reuniting with out-of-town grandchildren; sports, concerts and other events partly but safely returning; resumption of international travel and some tourism; businesses reopened without putting workers at undue risk,” the Times writes.
As noted by CNN also in December, “Vaccination cards will be used as the ‘simplest’ way to keep track of Covid-19 shots, said Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director of the Immunization Action Coalition, which is supporting frontline workers who will administer Covid-19 vaccinations,” writes John Bohnfield and Amir Vera.
Former 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang favored the idea, noting that “mass gatherings” ought to be vetted with “a bar code.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called HR. 1 a “universal voter fraud law” on Fox News last week.
“You know, it’s an amazing thing, we came out of this last election where we saw multiple instances of serious allegations of voter fraud, and the Democrats and the media took on the talking points that voter fraud doesn’t exist [and] that anyone who says it exists is somehow engaged in a conspiracy theory,” Cruz said. “Now with HR.1, the Democrats are seeking to lock in their advantage. They want mail-in balloting everywhere. They want no photo ID.”
H.R. 1 will head to the Senate at a date to be determined.