Whatever our color, background or zip code, in America we value our freedom. The freedom to have a say in decisions that impact our lives — from education to healthcare to creating jobs. To be able to effectively advocate for equal access to resources, we must have a democracy that works for us all, but currently, our democracy is facing threats on three main fronts. Firstly, record-setting amounts of campaign spending from wealthy special interests and difficult-to-trace secret spending have been allowed to flood our campaign finance system following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2010 case Citizens United v. FEC. Secondly, in several states, politicians or the party in power have created gerrymandered voting maps that put their own interests ahead of ensuring a fair and equitable community districting process for the people that they represent. Finally, anti-voter laws enacted following the Supreme Court’s decision to gut a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in the 2013 case Shelby County v. Holder and in response to former President Trump’s lies about the 2020 election have limited Americans’ freedom to vote.
For months, Americans have been calling for national standards to protect our freedom to vote, ensure fair representation and decrease the influence of wealthy special interests in our politics. The Freedom to Vote Act is a new and critical bill before the U.S. Senate that would attempt to do this with its comprehensive voting access, redistricting and campaign finance provisions. The ideas in the bill are drawn from bills that have long had bipartisan political sponsorship at both the federal and state levels, and the bill’s provisions would address problematic practices employed by both Democratic and Republican politicians. Among other things, the bill specifically would protect voting by mail and early voting, prohibit partisan gerrymandering, stop the use of intermediary secret spending groups to evade transparency requirements and require a majority vote of the FEC to shut down an investigation at the preliminary stages of the process. Campaign Legal Center (CLC) has worked closely on each of these issues, many of which receive widespread support from American voters across the political spectrum. An example of this is the redistricting provision that establishes a test courts would use to block extreme gerrymandering. Nearly three-quarters of voters support the federal judiciary establishing clear rules for when gerrymandering violates the U.S. Constitution, according to a CLC poll.
This transformative bill shows that American voices have an impact and is an important step toward realizing the promise of democracy for all. Just as we rose up to vote in record numbers amid the pandemic last year, we will now rise up to demand that our leaders exercise their power to pass this new bill that sets national standards for us to safely and freely cast our ballots, ensure every vote is counted and elect people who will deliver for us.