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Vaccine Passports

Over the past few weeks, we have heard a series of concerning proposals regarding requiring proof of COVID vaccinations (AKA "vaccine passports") in order for people to travel, work, and engage in business. While some have feared this could be a federal program, indicators from the White House suggest they prefer allowing states or corporations to create these programs.

Nevertheless, the federal government intends to be involved. "We view this as something that the private sector is doing and will do. What's important to us, and we're leading an interagency process right now to go through these details, are that some important criteria be met with these credentials," Andy Slavitt, acting director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said during a White House COVID-19 briefing earlier this week.

This dystopian vision is already being implemented in New York with the "Excelsior Pass" created in partnership with IBM. Likewise, universities are starting to implement COVID vaccination mandates, with Rutgers University in New Jersey formally announcing that it will require all in-person students to be vaccinated starting in the upcoming fall term.

Fortunately, some states have begun pushing back, with Florida doing so most aggressively. Friday morning, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order explicitly prohibiting the state's government entities from issuing vaccine passports or any similar proof of COVID vaccination. He didn't stop there, also prohibiting businesses in Florida from "requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business."

Such efforts are necessary to protect the individual liberty and privacy of Americans and to prevent discrimination and the creation of two classes of citizens based on vaccination.

I strongly support being proactive and taking preemptive, affirmative steps to make sure that Idahoans will not be required to show proof of vaccination in order to live their lives or conduct their business in the Gem State.

Protecting our Elections

Ever since the 2016 election, there has been a concerted effort to federalize our election system and to roll back election security efforts implemented in some states. This campaign has escalated following the 2020 election, and we now have H.R. 1 in Congress, which would eviscerate states' authority to protect the integrity of their election systems.

While by no means an exhaustive list, here are just a few of the most objectionable things H.R. 1 would do to compromise our election process:

  • Seize the authority from states to regulate voter registration and the voting process.
  • Prevent election officials from checking the eligibility and qualifications of voters.
  • Ban state Voter ID laws.
  • Expand regulation and government censorship of campaigns and political activity and speech.
  • Transfer the right to draw congressional districts from state legislatures to independent commissions whose members are unaccountable to voters.
  • Limit access to federal courts for anyone challenging H.R. 1.

This massive bill would federalize and micromanage the election process administered by the states, imposing unnecessary, unwise, and unconstitutional mandates on the states and reversing the decentralization of the American election process. It would take the most harmful changes implemented during the 2020 election cycle and make them permanent, further eroding even the most basic security protocols that states have in place.

When combined with the intentional mismanagement of border security by the current administration and the push to provide permanent residency and even amnesty to millions of lawbreakers, it seems quite obvious why there is such a push to undermine states' election security measures.

There have been several bills related to election security introduced during Idaho's 2021 Legislative Session, but very few have made much progress. Even proposals as basic as requiring verifiable government ID to vote have run into surprising resistance right here in our state. 

One bill that has passed the State Senate is SB 1168, which would prevent county clerks and local elections offices from accepting or expending gifts worth more than $100 from "private persons, corporations, organizations, business entities, political parties, or any other private entity."

Many people may not know that during the last election cycle, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg donated more than $750k to a small non-profit which sent this money into nearly half of Idaho's county election offices. What strings or favors may have been tied to this money?

At both the state and federal level, we must work diligently to increase our election security, not allow it to be compromised or destroyed by those who seek to manipulate elections and to attain political office through improprieties or fraud.

Sincerely,

Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin
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