Every vote counts, and everyone’s participation is necessary.

Unfortunately, the first bill of this Congress, H.R. 1, is Speaker Pelosi’s partisan attempt to put this vital process in jeopardy. Instead of focusing on countering legitimate threats to our free and fair elections like fraudulent voting and ballot harvesting, this bill stands to dramatically interfere with a state’s ability to conduct their own elections and guarantee current politicians have taxpayer money to fund their own campaigns.

I was hopeful the new majority in the House of Representatives would use this last year to work towards non-partisan compromises we can all agree on. Unfortunately, this bill H.begins by attacking the very body built to protect Americans’ right to the ballot box: the Federal Election Commission (FEC). This bill destroys the 3-3 equal bipartisan makeup of the FEC, instead proposing a 3-2 body that would turn the FEC into a partisan weapon. The bill also siphons the power to manage elections from the states to the federal government, and forces taxpayers to subsidize the campaigns of candidates they don’t support. This bill also implements a 600 percent government match to certain political donations - essentially forcing hard-earned dollars out of the hands of the taxpayer and into the pockets of campaign consultants and candidates they may fundamentally disagree with. Finally, it reinstates felon voting without regard to state criminal law.

Perhaps most egregiously, this bill increases compliance costs on political free speech, which treads perilously close to violating our First Amendment freedoms.

I absolutely opposed this bill when it came to the floor. The right to vote and participate in our democratic republic is one of the most essential and important civil rights we have as free citizens. This bill was not the answer.

The Constitution vests primary responsibility to the states to conduct elections, allowing states and localities to determine how best to meet the needs of voters in their communities. H.R. 1 completely reverses this longstanding history of state control of the electoral process. Rather than strengthening the election process by working with Republicans to find solutions, H.R. 1 paves the way for rampant fraud, abuse, and litigation that diminishes the value of a legitimate vote.

With all this said, there is still an opportunity to work together. In a divided Congress, I remain hopeful that Democrats will come to the table and work on compromises, rather than advance partisan legislation that will go nowhere. We can protect our elections, and we can do it together. But never at the expense of the first Amendment rights of Americans.