Conservative nonprofit Heritage Action for America is on Monday expected to announce plans to spend $10 million on a wide-ranging election integrity campaign to strengthen voting laws in eight swing states, according to reports.
According to Fox News, the campaign will target Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin, with the effort involving such initiatives as digital and television advertisements, as well as direct lobbying of state lawmakers.
“Fair elections are essential for every policy debate in the future,” Heritage Action Executive Director Jessica Anderson told the outlet in a statement. “We are working to help state lawmakers restore trust in our elections, ensure transparency, and protect the rights of every American to a fair election. This is our number one priority, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes.”
Heritage Action, which is affiliated with the right-leaning think tank The Heritage Foundation, seeks to turn “conservative ideas into reality on Capitol Hill,” the nonprofit says on its website.
“We do that by holding lawmakers accountable to their promises to advance the conservative principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense,” the organization says of its core priorities.
Election integrity came to the forefront in a dramatic way in 2020, with former President Donald Trump and his allies making claims that reduced security measures—primarily around mail-in ballots—led to fraud that cheated him out of victory.
In the broader debate about election security, conservatives—and Republicans in general—have tended to argue that casting a vote is a privilege of citizenship that should be safeguarded with secure processes and restrictions, and that lowering requirements around voting opens the process up to fraud and abuse. Progressives—and their Democrat allies—tend to hold the view that barriers to casting a ballot should be as low as possible and that the kind of security measures pushed by conservatives, such as stricter voter ID or proof-of-citizenship laws, amount to disenfranchisement. Progressives often frame the debate as between voter suppression and expansion, while conservatives tend to see it as election security versus vulnerability to abuse.
In the wake of the 2020 election controversy, Republican and Democrat lawmakers across the country have been pulling in opposite directions by introducing legislation that either reduces barriers—and guardrails—to voting, or seeks to strengthen election integrity, which can also make casting a vote more effortful or burdensome.
The Brennan Center for Justice, an advocacy group that pushes for progressive policies, counted 106 bills in 28 states designed to tighten voting standards so far this year, a significant jump from last year. At the same time, 35 states introduced a total of 406 bills to make voting less restrictive, also up from last year.
A key law in this regard being pushed by Democrats is H.R. 1, or the For the People Act of 2021. It passed the Democrat-controlled House last week on a largely party-line vote of 220-210, with all Republicans voting against it.
The controversial election reform package, which spans nearly 800 pages, seeks to impose requirements on voting procedures across the entire country. Its provisions include transferring authority over how elections are administered from states to the federal government, mandating automatic voter registration in all 50 states, and legalizing nationwide vote-by-mail without the need to provide photo ID to obtain an absentee ballot.
Heritage Action, in one of its key election integrity policy fights, called H.R. 1 “Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s signature piece of legislation to rig the election system in favor of Democratic politicians by undermining America’s electoral process.”
The organization argues that the bill “interferes with the ability of states and their citizens to determine qualifications for voters, to ensure the accuracy of voter registration rolls, to secure the integrity of elections, to participate in the political process, and to determine the district boundary lines for electing their representatives.”
“The end goal of H.R. 1 is clear—to enshrine into law dubious electoral practices that enable and encourage fraudulent behavior, such as ballot harvesting, false voter registrations, duplicate voting, and ineligible voting,” Heritage Action says.
The Biden administration, which has strongly pushed for the bill, praised its passage, saying the legislation is “urgently needed to protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen American democracy.”
Biden has said he would sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk, which may be a tall order since the proposed legislation would need 60 votes to overcome the Senate filibuster, meaning 10 Republicans would have to buy in.
Republicans have roundly denounced the bill, with governors and state legislators across the country saying it would kneecap election integrity efforts.
A previous version of the bill had passed the Democrat-controlled House 234-193 at the beginning of the 116th Congress in 2019 but ultimately did not get taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate.