Skip to content

GOP showcases states with added voter ID laws as model for country

Democrats note that racial voting gaps increased where tighter laws were enacted

Rep. Laurel Lee , R-Fla., chairs the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections.
Rep. Laurel Lee , R-Fla., chairs the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans are highlighting states that have tightened voting laws — especially with added voter identification requirements — like Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Ohio as models to increase election integrity, drawing a fight with Democrats over what constitutes a successful election. 

At the first meeting this Congress of the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections, majority members on Friday invited a panel of election officials from some of those states to speak about the ways they’ve fortified elections and increased voters’ faith in the process.

“Ultimately, I hope more states will follow the lead of Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, those states that have set the standard even higher and higher and continue to review their own processes to identify ways we can make elections better and better,” said Rep. Laurel Lee, who chairs the subcommittee and who was Florida secretary of state for three years before her election to Congress in November.

House Administration has pursued an aggressive oversight agenda since Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., took the reins of the committee in January. In an organization document approved in February, Republican members indicated their intent to “review and examine the 2022 election with a focus on ensuring all lawful ballots in congressional races were counted fairly, accurately, and according to law.”

Concerns about voter fraud and election integrity were amplified by former President Donald Trump, who falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen after he lost to President Joe Biden.

Eight GOP senators and 147 members of the House — including House Administration members Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma, Morgan Griffith of Virginia and Greg Murphy of North Carolina — voted to overturn the 2020 election results on Jan. 6, 2021, hours after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol.

Voter fraud is exceedingly rare in American elections, according to official inquiries. A commission convened by Trump after he made election fraud claims in 2016 disbanded without uncovering sufficient evidence. And the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, maintains a voter fraud database that lists just 63 cases decided in 2022, though the think tank notes its list is not exhaustive.

Steil, in his opening remarks Friday, said the subcommittee had “opportunity here to find some real common ground.” But while Republicans focused on election integrity, Democrats instead turned to debunking voter fraud myths and addressing discriminatory laws.

“After the last two years [of] baseless claims of fraud and repeated attacks on our democracy it is important to recognize the 2022 election was secure and applaud the country’s election officials for their hard work,” said Rep. Joseph D. Morelle of New York, the top Democrat on the House Administration Committee.

Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Ala., who is ranking member on the Subcommittee on Elections, noted a series of legal attacks on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a seminal piece of civil rights legislation that prohibited racial discrimination in voting. 

The majority’s witnesses — Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson from Florida, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose — maintained that recent attempts to bolster election integrity were encouraging voter participation. The measures range from tightening voter identification laws to increasing investigations into election crimes.

LaRose testified that 2022 saw the second highest number of voters ever for a midterm election in his state. And Loudermilk touted Georgia’s controversial 2021 election law, which established new voter ID requirements, limited early voting ballot drop boxes and shortened early voting in runoff elections, measures that opponents had criticized as suppressing votes.

Despite the changes, Georgia set an all-time turnout record for a midterm election in 2022, according to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

“I think one of the things that we really see, as the data shows, is that when we have strong elections, strong integrity in our elections, we actually see increased voter turnout,” Steil said. “I think that’s gonna be something that we’re going to hear time and time again.”

Sewell countered that looking only at total voter turnout distorts the picture because the racial turnout gap widened in certain states that enacted more restrictive voting laws. 

Minority witness Damon Hewitt, executive director of the nonprofit Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, testified that Georgia had a 13.3 point gap between the percentage of Black voters who cast ballots in 2022 versus whites, wider than the 8.3 percentage point gap in the previous midterm election in 2018. The trend was even more pronounced in Ohio in 2022, where there was a 35 percentage point gap in the turnout between white and Black voters, according to Hewitt.

“This is not success — democracy demands more,” Hewitt said. “This is no time to claim mission accomplished. We have work to do.”