The proposed legislation comes after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday announced that the city would be requiring visitors and city residents to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination status, including by using one of two different apps, to go to indoor restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues, becoming the first U.S. city to do so.
"If states that take federal money for elections feel the need to make residents verify a piece of information as private as their vaccination status just to return to normalcy, then they should have no problem requiring people to prove they are who they say they are when they go to vote," Cramer said in a Tuesday statement.
He added that the new bill "would ensure those states are being consistent about their identification requirements and shine a light on those who hypocritically oppose Voter ID laws but support vaccine passports."
No governors have issued any kind of statewide vaccine proof requirement, and 20 states including North Dakota have outright banned the possibility of such a requirement. The Biden administration has repeatedly said it will not issue any kind of federal vaccine passport mandate.
California, New York and Hawaii, however, have helped create optional digital vaccine passports so that residents can show proof of vaccination status from their smartphones at establishments that choose to require them. Oregon is requiring retail stores, restaurants, grocery stores and other establishments to review customers' vaccination status cards that they receive after getting the shot in exchange for services, according to local reports.
Cramer’s bill, which he plans to introduce as both a standalone bill and as an amendment to Democrat's $3.5 trillion spending plan, aims to have "all States which require vaccine passports or other such documentation to also require voter identification at the voting polls" in elections starting in 2022. The senator is seeking cosponsors for the legislation.
Vaccine passports and voter identification requirements have been points of contention between Democrats and Republicans.
Many Republicans — and the American Civil Liberties Union — argue that the former is a violation of civil liberties and an overreach of government authority. Democrats argue that the latter may make it more difficult for some people to vote, with some calling the practice "racist," in response to a slew of GOP-led voting laws introduced or passed in states like Texas and Georgia that restrict things like early voting and mail-in ballots and require identification at the polls.
Cramer's office noted that these states receive millions of dollars each year in the form of federal grants through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 every year to help fund states' election administration expenditures.
The senator's office also noted that California and New York do not have voter ID requirements except for those who are voting for the very first time. The vast majority of Americans (80%) support voter ID requirements, according to a Monmouth University poll published in June.