In response to the more than 253 bills that would restrict voting access that have been introduced in 43 states and efforts like the recently signed “Election Integrity Act of 2021” in Georgia, the Democrats in Congress introduced the “For the People” Act.
Let’s take a quick look at what the “For the People” Act would do. Among other things it would:
- Require states to offer same-day voter registration for federal elections and to permit voters to make changes to their registration at the polls.
- Require states to hold early voting for at least two weeks and would establish automatic voter registration for citizens who provide information to state agencies (such as state departments of motor vehicles) unless they opt out of doing so.
- Make Election Day a federal holiday.
- Require states to offer online voter registration.
- Authorize 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote in advance of their becoming 18.
- Limit states’ ability to remove registered voters from the rolls, and set conditions for when they could do so.
- Prohibit voter purges from taking place less than six months before an election.
- Restore voting rights to felons who complete prison terms.
- Mandate the use of paper ballots that can be marked by voters either by hand or with a ballot marking device.
- Require state officials to preserve paper ballots for recounts or audits, and to conduct a hand count of ballots for recounts and audits.
- Require the voting machines used in all federal elections to be manufactured in the United States.
- Impose stricter limitations on foreign lobbying.
- Require super PACs and other “dark money” organizations to disclose their donors.
- Require the president and vice president, as well as presidential and vice-presidential candidates, to publicly disclose their previous ten years of income tax returns.
- Thwart gerrymandering by requiring states to use independent commissions to draw congressional district lines.
That’s a lot of good stuff in there. Frankly, in a rational world, these are proposals that — for the most part — should be supported by both Democrats and Republicans.
But, as we all know, we don’t live in a rational world.
By the way, it should be noted that the Democrats don’t just have the “For the People” Act, but they also have the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which, among other things, would restore and strengthen parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, especially those provisions that were struck down by Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013), requiring certain states to “pre-clear” changes to their voting laws with the Attorney General of the United States.
Which brings us to the next issue: how to get the “For the People” Act (and the John Lewis Act) into law as long as we have the filibuster.
Ah, the filibuster.
(That will be tomorrow’s topic)