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Sen. Mike Lee says ‘devil himself’ wrote Democrats’ election reform plan

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, meets with reporters and members of the the Deseret News and KSL editorial boards in Salt Lake City on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Lee blasted Democrats’ plan to reform election laws as so bad, it’s as if it was written “by the devil himself.” 
Hans Koepsell, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A sweeping Democratic plan to reform election laws, according to Sen. Mike Lee, was written “by the devil himself.”

The Utah Republican said in a Fox News interview Wednesday that he disagrees with every word in the For the People Act, including “but, and, and the.”

“Everything about this bill is rotten to the core. This is a bill as if written in hell by the devil himself. This takes all sorts of decisions that the federal government really has no business making. It takes them away from the states, makes them right here in Washington, D.C., by Congress,” he said.

Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at Lee over the comment during his monologue Wednesday night.

“This is a bill that would expand voting rights and reform redistricting laws. Republicans in the Senate don’t like that because it limits their ability to prevent poor people from voting, and no one is more upset about than Utah Sen. Mike Lee,” Kimmel said before showing a clip of Lee.

Kimmel then chuckles and says, “The devil is not in hell writing bills. The devil is in Mar-a-Lago eating fried chicken.”

The bill would require states to offer same-day voter registration for federal elections and to allow voters to change their registration at the polls. It calls for states to hold early voting for at least 15 days, offer ballot drop boxes and expand mail-in voting. It also includes campaign finance and ethics reforms.

The House passed the bill, known as HR1, last week, but it’s not likely to get through the evenly divided Senate where it needs 60 votes to pass.

Lee and Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, addressed the issue Wednesday in a joint online town hall meeting.

“HR1 is a disaster,” Owens said, adding that there’s “nothing good about that, particularly when you have no bipartisanship.”

Lee said elections in the United States have always been conducted at the state and local levels.

“They are completely flipping that principle on its head so that all these things can be micromanaged from Washington. That’s wrong, that’s really wrong. It’s bad policy. As much as anything else, it’s wildly unconstitutional,” he said.

Even though Utah has some “cutting-edge” laws on mail-in voting, it doesn’t mean they would work in other states, Lee said.

“It’s completely inaccurate to say that because those things have worked in Utah, they’re going to work everywhere,” he said. “Make no mistake, the fact that something works in Utah, doesn’t mean that it’s OK to mandate it on everyone federally.”