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Cartoon misleads about voter eligibility under HR 1
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H.R. 1 combines proposals for voter registration, absentee voting, in-person voting, campaign finance and ethics related to federal elections. The House passed the bill March 3 and it now goes to the Senate.
The bill would allow 16-year-olds to preregister to vote, but it does not change state voting age requirements. A proposed amendment to lower the voting age to 16 failed.
The bill allows only eligible citizens to vote.
A cartoon making the rounds on Facebook portrays a federal voting rights bill as opening the door to voter fraud.
The cartoon shows a man telling an election worker: "I’m 16, I’m here illegally, I have no ID and I haven’t registered to vote."
The election worker replies: "Here’s your ballot." A sign in the background says: "HR 1 for election fraud act."
The Facebook post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) Editorial cartoons may be funny, but if they convey a factual message, we hold them to a standard of accuracy, just as we do with other forms of political commentary.
The cartoon on voting was drawn by Gary Varvel, a conservative syndicated cartoonist. Varvel did not respond to a request for comment.
The implication of the cartoon is that H.R. 1, a Democratic-backed bill moving through Congress, would allow minors and immigrants in the U.S. illegally to vote. That’s inaccurate.
The cartoon’s implications about voter ID and same-day registration, meanwhile, leave out important context and could create misunderstanding about the bill’s provisions.
H.R. 1, known as the For the People Act, combines proposals for voter registration, absentee voting, in-person voting, campaign finance and ethics related to federal elections. The Democratic-led House passed the bill March 3 largely, along party lines. The Senate is expected to take up the bill this month.
The bill says that states must accept an application to register to vote from anyone who is at least 16 years old. This process is known as "preregistration" and is already allowed in some states for people who are 16 or 17, so they can begin voting at age 18. Some states also permit 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections, if they will turn 18 before the general election.
However, H.R. 1 states that the bill has "no effect on state voting age requirements," and that nothing in the preregistration provision "may be construed to require a state to permit an individual who is under 18 years of age at the time of an election for federal office to vote in the election."
The House rejected a proposed amendment to lower the voting age to 16.
The bill does not permit voting by noncitizens in U.S. elections, whether they’re in the country legally or not.
A provision in the bill would facilitate automatic voter registration for people using services at government agencies. But that section says government agencies would pass along a person’s information for voter registration only if they are citizens. People would still have to attest that they are eligible to vote, with penalties for lying, and it would still be up to election officials to verify their eligibility.
There are several mentions in the bill of the goal to register "eligible citizens."
The legislation doesn’t ban state voter ID requirements, but it does include a workaround for voters that already exists in some states.
The bill says that if a state requires voters to present an ID to cast a ballot, it must allow a voter, as an alternative, to present election officials a sworn written statement attesting to their identity and eligibility to vote.
"This is actually a common practice used in several states, and since the vast majority of voters have identification and carry it with them, it is rarely used," David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, previously told PolitiFact. "But this alternative can be important for those few eligible voters that might have difficulty meeting restrictive identification requirements."
The bill would mandate that states allow any eligible person to register to vote on the day of a federal election and cast a ballot, or to revise their registration information on Election Day.
The National Conference of State Legislatures found that as of October, 21 states plus the District of Columbia already allowed same-day registration.
The sign in the cartoon calls H.R. 1 the "for election fraud act" — implying that it would lead to fraud. We can’t fact-check a prediction, but there are several provisions in the bill that discourage fraud, including grants to states to improve the security of their voting systems and audits of voting systems.
The bill requires information sharing from the federal government to the states about security, including cybersecurity threats. It directs the director of national intelligence to submit an assessment of threats posed by state actors and terrorist groups to chief state election officials and congressional committees. It also creates a bounty program to reward individuals, organizations and companies that report previously unidentified security vulnerabilities.
The Bipartisan Policy Center said many of the provisions would make progress toward ensuring election security, but said that the legislation still falls short in this area.
"Congress must authorize regularized funding for election security, aimed at repelling foreign intrusion into the voting process," the center wrote. "That includes mandating a way to get future funding into the hands of local election officials who are most responsible for the voting infrastructure."
A cartoon on Facebook said that under H.R. 1, a person can still vote if they are 16, in the U.S. illegally, have no ID and have not registered to vote.
The cartoon is wrong on the first two points: The legislation would allow 16-year-olds to preregister, but not cast ballots, and only eligible citizens can vote.
It leaves out important context on the other two points. The legislation would allow a process for a voter without ID to present a sworn statement instead, and it would allow same-day registration. Many states already have these provisions.
The overall message of the cartoon is that H.R. 1 opens the door to fraud and allowing ineligible people to vote. It ignores the security provisions and eligibility checks in the bill.
We rate this statement Mostly False.
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Congress.gov, H.R.1 - For the People Act of 2021, Introduced Jan. 4, 2021
Bipartisan Policy Center, H.R. 1’s Election Security and Integrity Provisions Need Work, March 2, 2021
NPR, Some Noncitizens Do Wind Up Registered To Vote, But Usually Not On Purpose, Feb. 26, 2019
AP, Pennsylvania finds 544 possibly illegal ballots since 2000, Oct. 25, 2017
CNN, Fact check: Pence echoes Trump's Big Lie in dishonest op-ed on election rules, March 3, 2021
Bipartisan Policy Center, Can H.R. 1 Improve Voter Registration? March 2, 2021
Campaign Legal Center, The Bipartisan Origins & Impact of the For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1) Jan. 25, 2021
Campaign Legal Center, For a More Accessible, Transparent and Responsive Government, CLC’s Trevor Potter Encourages Congress to Pass the "For the People Act," Jan. 4, 2021
Campaign Legal Center, How H.R. 1 Will Help Us Achieve a Government for the People, Jan. 4, 2021
Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, Annotated Guide to the For the People Act of 2021, Jan. 20, 2021
National Conference of State Legislatures, Same Day Voter Registration, Oct. 6, 2020
R Street, A Primer on H.R. 1, the "For the People Act of 2021" March 1, 2021
PolitiFact, Why we fact-check political cartoons, 2015
PolitiFact, Fact-checking misleading attacks on the HR 1 voting rights bill, March 5, 2021
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Cartoon misleads about voter eligibility under HR 1
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