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Democracy Reforms Being Debated in Washington

Our Congress is currently debating HR 1, For the People Act. Advocates say the bill is the most consequential piece of voting legislation since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I’m all for it. In my opinion it will strengthen our democracy in critical ways. It will help us get along with each other better, as Americans.

The Act’s stated purpose is to “to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and implement other anti-corruption measures for the purpose of fortifying our democracy, and for other purposes.”

Proposed reform measures are three types — voting, campaign finance, and ethics. If passed the bill would, for instance, require automatic voter registration in all states, end partisan gerrymandering, and encourage small-dollar campaign donations, among many reforms. The bill targets ‘big money’ donations and foreign interference as eroding to our democracy’s foundation. Additional overhaul of the Office of Government Ethics is intended to tighten the ethical standard for government officials.

Opponents say that the bill will affect mostly Democratic voters, make it easier for more Democrats to vote than Republicans. I’m fine with that. There are significantly more Democrats in our country than Republicans so anything that affect “most Americans” is going to affect more Democrats than Republicans.

More than that, just on principle, this package of reforms is deigned to level the playing field among all Americans in many ways. It gets us closer to the basic American ideal that I have held up before in these pages: that everyone gets a vote and the majority decides. The bill is not perfect but moves us in the right direction.

Read the bill here.

See here for the sponsor’s statement.

2 thoughts on “Democracy Reforms Being Debated in Washington

  1. The Republicans in America today have a problem, as stated in the Supreme Court arguments this week. Their stated goals do not coincide with those of the majority of Americans. They are in the minority. Unlike changing the voting laws to make them more restrictive HR 1 would direct us to one person one vote. The Republican Party must change. There are several Republicans that see this. Among them is Margaret Hoover who believes that a new Republican Party can meet the needs of the American people. I believe that a vibrant two party system is in the best interests of this country. I also believe that HR 1 should be the law of the land.

  2. Everything in this bill is extremely important, and perhaps nothing is more important than addressing Citizens United. Included in this package is the DISCLOSE Act, which aims to bolster transparency in federal elections and strengthen safeguards against foreign interference. Citizens United made it possible for many new types of entities to spend money on electoral advocacy without being subject to any legal limits. Gaps in the law make it possible for these entities to keep their sources of funding secret — which is why their spending is often called “dark money.” Dark money groups have spent more than $1 billion on federal elections since 2010. Almost all of this spending is concentrated on the most competitive races. Dark money is also an avenue for foreign funds to infiltrate U.S. campaigns. The DISCLOSE Act seeks to close the major loopholes responsible for dark money and make other related changes to protect the integrity of the U.S. political system. The version included in this package would also extend disclosure requirements to ads seeking to influence federal judicial nominations (more than $30 million was spent on ads related to the last two Supreme Court nominations alone). See an annotated guide for HR1 at

    https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/policy-solutions/annotated-guide-people-act-2021#t4-sf

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