How H.R. 1 could turn the next election into a clusterf**k

“Listen, I’ll do this—if the law passes, I’ll follow it,” said one state-level Democratic election director in the southeast who declined to be named. “But I can’t guarantee it’s not going to be a total clusterfuck the first election.”

The sections of the bill related to voting systems—wholly separate from its provisions on voting rights—show remarkably little understanding of the problems the authors apply alarmingly prescriptive solutions to. Many of the changes the bill demands of election administrators are literally impossible to implement. Others would significantly raise the cost of elections but provide no assured long-term funding…

“I don’t know what they were thinking, honestly,” said the head of an elections nonprofit. “It’s a bad bill. The goals might be admirable, but it’s a fucking bad bill.” Election administrators used the F-word a lot during my chats with them, frustrated because they’ve eagerly sought federal funding and basic attention to their offices, only to be handed impossible goals they’ll be held individually responsible for meeting. This person isn’t the only one who declined to be named when I asked more than 15 election administrators—a mix of federal, state, and local officials—to comment on the bill. It’s easy to understand why they blanched at offering their candid opinions.