Proposed 'Defend Elections and National Democracy' (DEFEND) Act

6 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2021 Last revised: 7 Sep 2022

Date Written: May 20, 2021


This paper presents a proposed Act of Congress which would block all state restrictions on voting rights, or other state laws affecting federal elections, enacted after January 6, 2021, unless such laws were enacted with bipartisan support.

This would have the effect, in one fell swoop, of blocking and invalidating any and all partisan and abusive state legislation (whether Republican-sponsored or Democratic-sponsored) attacking voting rights or threatening election integrity.

It would also effectively block any state map seeking to "gerrymander" districts for the U.S. House of Representatives on a partisan basis, with an express exemption allowing redistricting to proceed as usual in the ten states currently using independent nonpartisan or bipartisan districting commissions or procedures (Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington), and a provision encouraging other states to adopt similar commissions.

Furthermore, the proposal would affirm and reenact existing independent districting commissions (and the nonpartisan district maps they have approved), thus shielding them from the potentially dangerous and destabilizing effect of a Supreme Court ruling adopting the so-called "independent state legislature" doctrine.

Finally, the proposal (as now revised) would also, effective January 1, 2024, block any state from administering or supervising federal elections in that state by any partisan elected or appointed chief elections officer, a crucial safeguard given the extremist election deniers nominated for election as state Secretary of State by the Republican Party in several critical swing states, including Arizona and Michigan.

Keywords: Congress, federal elections, state election law, voting rights, gerrymandering, independent districting commission

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Wildenthal, Bryan H., Proposed 'Defend Elections and National Democracy' (DEFEND) Act (May 20, 2021). Thomas Jefferson School of Law Research Paper No. 3850421, Available at SSRN: or

Bryan H. Wildenthal (Contact Author)

Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( email )

701 B Street
Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92101
United States

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