|By Meara Geraty
Digital Content Coordinator, RepresentUs
The most important anti-corruption legislation of our lifetimes is currently in the Senate — and the future of our democracy depends on it passing.
Here’s what’s in this crucial bill, and how you can help bring it to victory.
- Stop billionaires from buying our elections
- Secure and modernize our outdated election systems
- Strengthen our freedom to vote
- End partisan gerrymandering
- Make sure politicians in Washington represent you, not special interests, lobbyists, or their own agenda
1. Stop billionaires from buying our elections
A nation of, by, and for the people is entirely incompatible with a handful of wealthy elite wielding massive influence on our elections, government, and policy.
The For the People Act will kick billionaires out of our political system by:
- Cracking down on “dark money” — secret campaign donations that use a loophole to skirt contribution limits, letting anonymous wealthy donors influence policy and politics behind the scenes.
- Formally denouncing Citizens United, the infamous Supreme Court case that allows billions of dollars to flow into our elections.
- Empowering everyday Americans and leveling the playing field by establishing programs to publicly finance elections. This change would allow Americans to run for office based on the support of their community rather than the size of their bank account.
- Strengthening enforcement and accountability by reinvigorating the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) — a government agency tasked with enforcing campaign finance laws that has been hamstrung by partisanship in recent years.
2. Secure and modernize our outdated election systems
Regardless of where you stand on the 2020 election, we can all agree that our democracy is only as strong as our elections are secure. With imminent threats from foreign actors, voting machines often more than a decade old, and insufficient paper ballot backups, election integrity is at risk.
The For the People Act will ensure our elections are secure by:
- Mandating paper ballot backups, widely regarded as the most effective way to secure our voting systems and ensure every single vote can be verified.
- Requiring voting machines to be manufactured in the United States, and setting high quality standards for their production.
- Funding critically needed election infrastructure improvements and ensuring states follow up-to-date election security practices.
3. Strengthen our freedom to vote
Our founding ideal — a government of, by, and for the people — is only realized when we the people have the freedom and access to use our voice and our vote.
But while most of us agree that every American deserves equal access to the ballot box, politicians like to make it hard for us to exercise this right. The For the People Act removes unnecessary barriers to voting by:
- Enacting same day and automatic voter registration to make registering to vote simpler and more accessible — while also ensuring our voter roles are kept up to date and accurate.
- Expanding early voting and voting by mail, so that Americans can vote in the way that works best for them. Both of these methods are secure, and frequently used by voters of both parties.
- Ending needless voter roll purges and requiring alternatives to voter ID requirements, ensuring eligible voters can cast their ballot easily. Thanks to automatic voter registration, voter rolls will be better kept up to date, so our voter rolls won’t need any cleanup.
- Ensuring every eligible American can exercise their right to vote after serving felony sentences and paying their debt to society.
4. End partisan gerrymandering
Partisan gerrymandering is one reason why nearly 90% of House races are not competitive, because it allows politicians to rig voting district lines and ensure their own re-election, regardless of what voters think. The For the People Act would:
- Take map-drawing power away from politicians — who have every incentive to abuse it — and empower an independent redistricting committee to draw congressional districts.
5. Make sure politicians in Washington represent you, not special interests, lobbyists, or their own agenda.
When we elect politicians, we put faith in them to represent our voices in Congress and fight for our values, but current ethics and lobbying laws fail to hold them accountable. Foreign actors, high-paid lobbyists, or their own self-interests can easily influence a lawmaker more than their constituents.
The For the People Act will restore trust, integrity, and transparency by:
- Closing lobbying loopholes and strengthening disclosure to make sure that no one can wield under-the-table influence or hide who’s dollars are pressuring our officials.
- Requiring officials to disclose conflicts of interest and take an ethics pledge, as well as disclose their tax returns (for Presidents) and require members of Congress to set up blind trusts, so they can’t use their insider knowledge for personal monetary gain.
- Closing the revolving door between elected officials and industry so politicians can’t cash in on their public service to enrich themselves.
- Establishing transparency and accountability by setting up publicly-accessible databases of lobbying activity and enforcing the laws on the books.
Amidst historic polarization and threats to our democracy, it’s no surprise that this bill has massive popular support. But with the system rigged against us, we know politicians won’t pass it unless we put real people-power and grassroots pressure on them.
Making an impact doesn’t take a lot of time. Find out what you can do to support the For the People Act here.