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Voters wait in line on Oct. 21, 2020, in Cross Lanes, W.Va. (AP) Voters wait in line on Oct. 21, 2020, in Cross Lanes, W.Va. (AP)

Voters wait in line on Oct. 21, 2020, in Cross Lanes, W.Va. (AP)

By Raeanne Beckner April 5, 2021
By Devyn Osborne April 5, 2021

Fact-checking Rep. Alex Mooney of W.Va. on requirements in H.R. 1

If Your Time is short

• H.R. 1 requires states to allow same-day registration, which many states already do.

• H.R. 1 expands the ability of voters to have other people to deposit their completed and sealed absentee ballot for them.

• The bill does not call for universal mail-in voting, or force any state to adopt an all-mail system. It would make it easier for registered voters who wish to cast their ballot by mail to do so.

The Democratic-backed elections and voting bill known as H.R. 1, or the For the People Act, has inspired sometimes fierce opposition from Republicans. One of them is Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va.

The bill, which passed the House on a mostly party-line vote and awaits action in the Senate, includes proposals on voter registration, absentee voting, in-person voting, campaign finance and ethics related to federal elections.

In a press release issued March 3, Mooney explained why he voted against the bill, which he dismissed as the "For the Politicians Act."

"It mandates practices nationwide which are prone to fraud, such as ballot harvesting, universal mail-in voting and same-day registration," Mooney said in the news release. He argued that, collectively, "this power grab would undermine ballot integrity and restrict the voice of each individual citizen in our election process."

PolitiFact’s national staff has previously fact-checked portions of this statement. Overall, Mooney’s statement gets some things right, some things wrong, and some in between. We’ll take a look at each. (Mooney’s office did not respond to inquiries for this article.)

Claim: H.R. 1 mandates "ballot harvesting."

This is partially accurate but needs context

"Ballot harvesting" isn’t an official legal term, but it generally refers to someone collecting completed and sealed absentee ballots on behalf of others and then submitting them. Many states’ current laws allow individuals to collect ballots on behalf of others, sometimes with certain restrictions.

H.R. 1 doesn’t require ballots to be collected this way, but requires states to allow it in some forms. It says that states "shall permit a voter to designate any person" to return their sealed absentee ballot, as long as the person doesn’t get paid based on the number of ballots returned. It would prevent states from putting a limit on how many ballots any person could return on behalf of others.

Claim: H.R. 1 mandates "universal mail-in voting."

This is False.

The phrase used by Mooney, "universal mail-in voting," is not a commonly used term; more common is "all-mail elections." 

In all-mail elections, ballots are automatically mailed to every registered voter. "The voter marks the ballot, puts it in a secrecy envelope or sleeve and then into a separate mailing envelope, signs an affidavit on the exterior of the mailing envelope, and returns the package via mail or by dropping it off," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

This system is used in Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington state and Utah. In addition, California has moved to temporarily extend its use of all-mail voting after adopting it during the coronavirus pandemic.

H.R. 1 doesn’t force any state to adopt the all-mail system or send out ballots automatically.

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Rather, the bill would make it easier for registered voters who choose to cast their ballot by mail. The bill requires states to give everyone access to voting by mail if they want to use it.

The law says that states cannot "impose any additional conditions or requirements" on an eligible voter’s ability to cast an absentee ballot by mail in federal elections. In addition, the bill nixes state laws requiring identification for mail ballots beyond a voter’s signature, such as  notarized statements.

The bill allows states to set a "reasonable deadline" for requesting a mail ballot and returning it to elections officials. And it requires states to treat a mail-in ballot application for one election to stand as a default preference for all subsequent federal elections.

There’s no question that these H.R. 1 provisions set new standards for access to mail ballots. But none of these provisions amount to "universal mail-in" voting. Voting by mail would be an option for voters, not a requirement.

Claim: H.R. 1 mandates "same-day registration."

This is accurate

A little under half the states already offer some form of same-day voter registration, in which individuals can cast a ballot on the same day they register. 

H.R. 1  would mandate that states allow any eligible individual to register to vote on the day of a federal election and cast a ballot that day. People who are already registered could revise their voter registration information and still vote that day.

Are these practices "prone to fraud"?

Practices such as ballot harvesting, same-day registration and mail-in voting are already used in some states. Even so, there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the U.S. election system

Between Election Day and late November, PolitiFact fact-checked more than 80 misleading or false claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election. Federal agencies, state election officials and technology experts have all said that last year’s election was among the most secure in American history.

And in 2018, we found no widespread fraud in elections prior to 2020. 

Our ruling

Mooney said that H.R. 1 "mandates practices nationwide" that include "ballot harvesting, universal mail-in voting and same-day registration."

He’s correct that H.R. 1 requires states to allow same-day registration, which is already used in many states. 

H.R. 1 does not mandate ballot harvesting, but it would remove some restrictions on voters’ letting other people return their completed and sealed absentee ballot for them.

H.R. 1 doesn’t mandate universal mail-in voting. Rather, the bill would make it easier for registered voters who choose to cast their ballot by mail to do so.

We rate the statement Half True.

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More by Raeanne Beckner

Fact-checking Rep. Alex Mooney of W.Va. on requirements in H.R. 1

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