Former Vice President Mike Pence is adding his voice to the chorus of Republicans opposed to Democrats’ voting reform legislation just passed by the House of Representatives, breaking his media silence to decry a bill that he warned would “increase opportunities for election fraud.”
Pence made his feelings known in an op-ed published Wednesday by the Daily Signal, a blog run by the conservative Heritage Foundation, where the former VP is a fellow.
“After an election marked by significant voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election,” Pence’s op-ed began.
The former vice president, whose name is repeatedly floated as a potential 2024 White House contender, went on to discuss the “tragic events of Jan. 6,” referencing the Capitol riot that he found himself at the center of.
That day, he said, “also deprived the American people of a substantive discussion in Congress about election integrity in America.”
Mike Pence wrote that the Jan. 6 Capitol riot “deprived the American people of a substantive discussion in Congress about election integrity in America.”Erin Schaff – Pool/Getty Images
Pence’s relationship with former President Donald Trump was strained in the two months after the November election, with issues coming to a head during the Capitol riot.
The Electoral College went 306-232 for President Biden, but Trump alleged that widespread fraud had tipped the results in swing states.
Courts rejected those claims, and Trump refused to concede, though in the aftermath of the riot, he pledged a “peaceful transition of power.”
For his part, Pence faced considerable pushback from Trump for declining to challenge certain swing-state electoral votes to turn the election in their favor in his capacity as president of the Senate.
However, the former vice president told House Republicans during a meeting last month that he and the former president maintain a strong relationship.
In his Wednesday op-ed and first extended comments since leaving office, Pence slammed Democrats over the For the People Act.
“Congress will vote this week on HR 1, the so-called For the People Act, a massive 800-page election overhaul bill that would increase opportunities for election fraud, trample the First Amendment, further erode confidence in our elections, and forever dilute the votes of legally qualified eligible voters,” Pence argued, going on to cite a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that upheld Indiana’s voter ID law, which noted that the US has a history of election fraud.
That ruling, according to Pence, “cited the 2005 report of the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform headed by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, which said the ‘electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud.’”
In this image from security video, Vice President Mike Pence is evacuated as rioters breach the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Senate Television via AP
“HR 1 would eliminate those safeguards and prevent states from implementing new, needed reforms,” he continued.
The longtime lawmaker, who previously served as Indiana governor and in the House, raised concern about the rising distrust from Americans on both sides of the aisle.
“Polling shows that large numbers of Democrats did not trust the outcome of the 2016 election and that large numbers of Republicans still do not trust the outcome of the 2020 election.
“We have to do everything we can to change that and ensure that the American people, no matter which political party they favor, have confidence in the fairness and security of the election process.”
While Pence has been largely quiet since leaving office, he told House Republicans during their meeting last month that he was working on launching his own political organization to promote the Trump agenda.
He is currently operating out of a new office based in northern Virginia.
He told supporters in late January that he planned to move back to Indiana by this summer, and is splitting his time between there and DC until then.
House Democrats passed their sweeping voting rights bill over Republican opposition late Wednesday.
House Resolution 1 was approved along party lines on a 220-210 vote.
The legislation aims to lower voting barriers, expand access to the polls, put an end to gerrymandering and set up public funding for congressional races.
It has the backing of Senate Democrats and Biden.