For The People Act - 20 Reasons Why H.R. 1 is a Damn Good Piece of Legislation
It’s being touted as an anti-corruption ethics bill, which in many ways it is, but it is so much more than that as well. House Resolution 1, the For the People Act, makes it clear that attacking voter suppression has now become a top priority within the Democratic Party. H.R. 1 is more about protecting voting rights and being anti-voter suppression than it is anti-corruption. It’s proudly pro-democratic and right now America desperately needs democracy reform.
HR1 - The For the People Act of 2019 would be huge for protecting voting rights!— Black and Intellectual (@_blackintellect) January 4, 2019
- Automatic/Online Voter Registration
- Outlaws Voter Purging
- Curtails Interstate CrossCheck!
- Campaign Finance Transparency
- Goes after Gerrymandering
- Restore the VRAhttps://t.co/eQXeRoz8FR
The For The People Act does a lot of things and addresses issues raised by people such as myself regarding voter suppression. You can read the full text of the bill here to see what it includes that’s not getting a ton of media attention. The bill was introduced this past Thursday and will go through a series of hearings in Democratic-controlled committees before being voted on.
The issue of voter suppression touches all other issues because if we can’t depend on the right to vote to put the right people into power, not only is America’s democratic legitimacy up in the air, but it cements the fascist shift this country has taken in recent years.
So what does H.R. 1 do? It does lots of things -
It modernizes voter registration by allowing for internet registration and the ability to update your information over the internet.
It requires that States establish and operate automatic voter registration systems. The bill defines ‘automatic registration’ as the ability for State election officials to electronically transfer information necessary for registration from government agencies to register voters in Federal elections if they aren’t already registered and they want to vote.
It allows for Same-Day Registration which gives voters the ability to register at the polls which would cut down on the ability of voter suppression tactics to benefit the Republican Party
It guts the Interstate Cross-Check System! H.R. 1 forces States using Cross-Check to verify more information and confirm the voter is no longer a resident of the State by comparing his/her data with other voter systems. Something that is not done now and is completely arbitrary.
It prohibits and effectively abolishes Voter Caging! Voter caging is one of many voter suppression tactics used to kick people off of voter rolls. It is the practice of sending mail to addresses on the voter rolls, compiling a list of the mail that is returned undelivered, and using that list to purge or challenge voters registrations on the grounds that the voters on the list do not legally reside at their registered addresses. Brennan Center for Justice has a good article on it if you want more information.
It includes another Act called the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2019 which prohibits knowingly false claims and statements from being made by public officials before an election that could hinder people from voting. This could have been of use in Georgia in the 2018 midterms when newly-elected Governor Brian Kemp made a false claim about the Democrats attempting to hack election systems before the midterm elections. A false claim that was been debunked after the election was over. What Brian Kemp did appears to have been a deceptive practice which would be illegal if H.R. 1 were law prior to the election.
It includes the Democracy Restoration Act of 2019 which guts felony disenfranchisement nationwide and restores voting rights to those who have done their time and are out of prison!
It puts limitations on the construction of state and local jails and prisons by holding back federal funds unless incarcerated people are informed of their rights once they leave jail/prison. *It doesn’t go far enough for my tastes, but I’ll take it.
It mandates the usage of paper ballots in voting systems! *I’m assuming alongside electronic voting machines
It amends the Help America Vote Act of 2002 by requiring that provisional ballots are all counted! An issue that has arisen in several primary and general elections throughout the years. It creates uniform and non-discriminatory standards for the counting of provisional ballots.
It amends the Help America Vote Act of 2002 by making early voting mandatory in all States across the country!
It makes Election Day a federal holiday.
It strengthens the Election Assistance Commission which protects America’s election integrity. The EAC was created in 2002 and was subsequently attacked and defunded in 2017 by the GOP-controlled House.
It reaffirms a commitment to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which was gutted in 2013 in a horrible ruling by the Supreme Court in Shelby v. Holder. A ruling that has been proven to be incorrect and terribly political.
It brings with it gerrymandering reform by ensuring that states draw congressional districts using independent redistricting commissions whose members represent diverse communities across the state, by establishing fair redistricting criteria, and by mandating greater transparency for the redistricting process.
It promotes cybersecurity and prevents election hacking.
It calls for the creation of a national strategy and national commission to protect American democratic institutions.
It attacks voter purging by prohibiting the removal of a voter from the rolls if they haven’t voted in a previous election or the failure to respond to a mailed notice. This directly guts successful voter purging tactics that have been used in recent elections.
It comes with a plethora of campaign finance reforms that increase transparency, oversight and allows for the small dollar financing of elections!
Lastly, it comes with a number of ethics reforms such as Lobbying Disclosure reform, Supreme Court ethics, and stopping Super PAC-Candidate Coordination.
As I said, there’s a LOT in this bill. Yes, I’m aware that it won’t become law with a right-wing Senate and Trump in office. However, H.R. 1 could possibly be the light at the end of the tunnel once Democrats take back full control of Congress with a Democratic President. Hopefully, that’ll happen in 2020 and we won’t have long to wait.
It’s also possible parts of H.R. 1 will be broken up into smaller chunks. I hope not as I don’t really see the point of it. The Democratic House passing this, despite the fact that the Republican Senate will surely kill it is a major statement being made. The Republicans don’t support this bill because they know how important voter suppression is to their success - a point I’ve made on numerous occasions.
There are more things I’d like to see that this bill doesn’t address such as the abolition of the Electoral College and actual restoration of Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The passage of the PAYGO budget rule recently is also an issue that needs to be addressed and changed if we are to see things like Medicare-For-All and a Green New Deal.