A group of U.S. Senators have introduced a new bill, the Freedom to Vote Act, that would increase Americans’ access to the freedom to vote, curb gerrymandering and improve disclosure in our campaign finance system.
The new bill, introduced on Sept. 14, 2021, is the result of negotiations stemming from the original For the People Act, also known as H.R. 1/S.1, and retains most of its key pillars.
This comes during a period of considerable urgency around passing these reforms following restrictive voting bills introduced in 43 states just this year and record-setting secret spending, also known as dark money, during the 2020 election cycle.
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 creating jobs. In order to effectively advocate for equal access to resources, we must have a democracy that works for all of us.
For months, the American people have been calling for national standards to protect our freedom to vote, ensure fair representation and increase transparency in political campaign spending. The Freedom to Vote Act is a result of that effort.
What’s In the Bill?
The bill addresses a number of priority items for American elections that Campaign Legal Center (CLC) has consistently promoted:
First, it advances voting access by implementing reliable state best practices for voter registration and election administration to ensure all Americans can easily exercise their freedom to vote regardless of where they live. The bill will modernize voter registration through online, same-day and automatic registration. And it will provide a federal baseline of voting opportunities, including a minimum of 15 days of early voting and equal access to mail-in ballots, consistent with recommendations issued by CLC in a report released in August.
Second are measures to ban partisan gerrymandering. Specifically, a provision would require states to abide by specific criteria for congressional redistricting and makes legal solutions available for states’ failure to comply.
Third are measures that establish uniform disclosure standards for money in politics at the federal level and empower states to make critical investments in their election systems. Next, the bill adds provisions to curb unlimited secret spending by enhancing campaign finance disclosure provisions. Additionally, the bill would stop the wrongful practice of coordination between super PACs and campaigns, which is a significant reform that CLC has long advocated for.
A Time for Action
The introduction of the Freedom to Vote Act in the Senate is an important step after months of delay in Congress.
CLC is encouraged to see many of the provisions it advocated for included in the bill and will continue to work with Senate leadership to ensure this bill is as strong as possible and sets robust national standards for Americans in all 50 states.
CLC developed a memo showing how the democracy reforms 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 Democrats and Republicans.
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.