Story by Rebecca Kaplan

WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Monday unveiled voting legislation they say will make elections more secure, fulfilling a campaign promise that Democrats immediately criticized as rooted in former President Donald Trump’s denial. 

The House Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, chose the city of Atlanta as a backdrop to introduce the bill and hold a hearing, as they weigh in on a battle over access to the polls that has largely been playing out at a state level in recent years.

The committee chose Atlanta as a nod to Georgia’s 2021 voting law that added additional ID requirements for mail-in ballots, limited ballot drop boxes and barred people from bringing food and water to voters waiting in lines, among other changes. The bill drew a lawsuit from the Justice Department and national controversy, including a decision by Major League Baseball to pull the All-Star game out of Atlanta.

Critics said the Georgia law would make it harder to vote and disproportionately disenfranchise people of color. On Monday, the sponsor of the new House Republican bill, Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil, R-Wisc., said that was a false narrative because voter turnout increased between 2020 and 2022.  An analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice found that while overall voter turnout increased, so did the gap between white and nonwhite turnout. Nonwhite voter turnout declined between the 2018 and 2022 midterm elections, the Brennan Center found.

The House GOP bill makes certain federal changes to assist states with election administration, including by mandating that the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration give states access to voter data, free of charge, so they can remove non-citizens and dead people from voter rolls. It would also reform the REAL ID Act to require that people’s citizenship status be printed on identification documents like driver’s licenses for the purposes of checking citizenship status at the polls. The bill also seeks to disincentivize states from allowing non-citizens to vote in local and state elections, by reducing their eligibility for grants under the Help America Vote Act.

“This legislation is the most substantive and conservative election integrity legislation that will come before the House in over a generation,” Steil said.

Lawmakers also took advantage of Congress’ control over Washington, D.C., to propose a host of changes in the bill to the city’s elections, seeking to make it an example of effective election administration. The new legislation would establish photo ID requirements, signature verification for mail ballots, a ban on same-day voter registration and on mailing ballots to anyone other than those who request them in the nation’s capital. The bill would also repeal the city’s new law that allows non-citizens to vote in local elections.

New York Rep. Joe Morelle, the top Democrat on the committee, criticized Republicans for holding up Georgia’s SB 202 voting law as a model, saying it was only enacted because former President Trump lost the state of Georgia in 2020.

“The Big Lie origins of SB 202 mirror the Big Lie origins of the majority’s ACE Act. And the damaging effects of SB 202 on Georgia voters will be imposed upon all Americans if the ACE Act is enacted nationally,” he said. 

 Other sections of the bill make it easier for non-profit organizations engaged in politics to keep their donor lists private and remove some campaign finance regulations.

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Even if it passes the House, the GOP elections legislation is all but certain to go nowhere in the Democratically-controlled Senate.

Democrats have also struggled to pass their own version of voting rights legislation that they say would expand voter access in the face of a filibuster by Senate Republicans.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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