Politics

Democrat House Passes 800-Page, Sweeping Election And Voting Rights Changes

The Democrat-led House passed a sweeping law that makes numerous and substantive changes to federal election and campaign finance law.

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The Democrat-led House of Representatives Wednesday night passed HR1, otherwise known as the “For The People Act,” a sweeping law that makes numerous and substantive changes to federal election and campaign finance law.

The 800-page bill passed by the slim margin of 220-210 in the House, and will now go to the Senate.

In a statement, John Sabranes (D-MD), who reintroduced the bill after it was introduced and passed in 2019, said, “The 2020 election underscored the need for comprehensive, structural democracy reform. Americans across the country were forced to overcome rampant voter suppression, gerrymandering and a torrent of special-interest dark money just to exercise their vote and their voice in our democracy.”

The bill passed along party lines.

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What Does The ‘For The People Act’ Do?

A report from USAToday entails some of the changes that the bill would usher in.

As Vox points out, many of the changes would cement in place many of the COVID-related voting changes from 2020.

Among these, requiring 15 days of early voting, lessening identification requirements, allowing same day registration, and requiring states to establish automatic registration for federal elections.

Additionally, states would be required to automatically register felons to vote once they have completed their sentences. The bill also expands absentee and mail-in voting, and sets new rules governing how voters would drop off ballots, and applying to vote-by-mail.

The bill also requires states to establish a “bipartisan commission” to redraw congressional districts every ten years during the once-per-decade redistricting process. However, the redistricting changes will not kick in until after the 2030 census.

In a nod to civil rights groups who say that purging of voter rolls disproportionally affects minorities, the bill limits states from purging nonactive voters from the voter rolls without verifying that they are in fact, ineligible from voting in that state.

The legislation does call for paper ballots and encourages risk-limiting audits of ballots. It also aims to clamp down on voter intimidation, and the “spread of disinformation” about voting rights.

The bill also makes major changes to campaign finance law.

Super PACs will be required to disclose their donors, and the bill supports a constitutional amendment to end “Citizens United” rules, placing limits on donors from business organizations.

The bill would also put taxpayers on the hook for federal elections. Candidates would get a 6-1 match from federal funds on their small dollar donations. (If a candidate raises $1, they receive $6 from the federal government.)

The bill would require 60 votes to pass in the Senate.

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Passage Of HR1 Has Mixed Reaction

As would be expected, passage of the “For The People Act” has mixed reaction split along party lines.

President Joe Biden praised the passage of the bill, calling it “urgently needed,” and went on to call the right to vote “sacred and fundamental, the right from which all of our other rights as Americans spring.”

Still, Biden signaled that he wants changes made.

According to The Hill, Biden said, “I look forward to working with Congress to refine and advance this important bill. And I look forward to signing it into law after it has passed through the legislative process, so that together we can strengthen and restore American democracy for the next election and all those to come.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blasted the bill as “exactly the wrong response to the distressing lack of faith in our elections.” He added that, “Democrats want to use their temporary power to try and ensure they’ll never have to relinquish it.”

During floor debate on Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “It is not designed to protect Americans’ vote – it is designed to put a thumb on the scale in every election in America, so that Democrats can turn a temporary majority into permanent control. It is an unparalleled political grab.”

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) said, “This bill isn’t for the people, it’s for the politicians.”

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Some Lingering Roadblocks

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) was the lone Democrat “nay” vote on the bill.

When asked about his vote he replied, “My constituents opposed the redistricting portion of the bill as well as the section on public finances. I always listen and vote in the interest of my constituents.”

Also in the mix, according to a CNN report, while the bill was passed in the House in 2019, it failed to pass in the GOP controlled Senate. The narrow Democrat Senate majority limits what can be done.

In order for the bill to pass the Senate, all 48 Democrat Senators and the two Independents who caucus with them would need ten Republican Senators to overcome a filibuster.

 

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