Pelosi uses loophole to allow proxy voting in House through Dec. 31

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has used a provision in a bill passed in May to extend proxy voting in the House for a fourth time, allowing lawmakers there to vote by proxy until December 31, 2020.

The Democrat-dominated House passed legislation allowing members to vote by proxy in May, and part of that bill allowed Pelosi to extend it as many times as she wants.

In a letter announcing the extension, Pelosi cited the House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving, who said in another letter “that a public health emergency due to the novel coronavirus is still in effect.”

Republicans oppose proxy voting

According to the Washington Examiner, the proxy voting provision broke a 231-year old requirement that House members must debate and vote in person, and House Republicans opposed the move, which allows members present in the chamber to vote for up to ten other members not present if those members designate them as their proxy.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tried to get the rule change overturned with a lawsuit earlier this year, but the judge dismissed the case in August as being out of the court’s purview. Republicans have appealed the decision.

Republicans said that members have seemingly used the provision to campaign, take vacations, or deal with family matters, rather than being absent due to coronavirus concerns.

It is noteworthy that the Senate has not adopted proxy voting, but has continued to meet in person, wearing masks, for debates and votes on bills.

While coronavirus cases in the U.S. have spiked to new record highs in some areas and hospitalizations are said to be rising, deaths are still at only a fraction of the level they were at the height of the pandemic’s initial wave in April and May.

In D.C., for instance, new cases are at about two-thirds the level they were in April, but the seven-day rolling average of deaths is currently zero. In May, it peaked at 12 per day.

A bridge too far?

House Democrats are now said to be considering allowing electronic voting after claiming that they had found a system to allow secure electronic voting from a device.

Given the scrutiny now directed at electronic voting machines and the software that controls them, it doesn’t seem like any electronic voting would be secure enough to trust our legislation to it.

But at least, it would be easier to do a recount and get to the truth than it seems to be with the presidential election this year.

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