You know the For the People Act, the Democrats’ huge democracy reform bill, would make Election Day a federal holiday. You’ve probably also heard about some of the other major ways it would boost turnout and restore faith in U.S. elections:
- automatic voter registration
- 15 days of early voting
- independent redistricting
- campaign finance transparency
So here are some of the provisions in the For the People Act (H.R. 1) that haven’t gotten as much play. For an even more detailed breakdown, visit Rep. John Sarbanes’ page.
Psst! The For the People Act passed the U.S. House on March 8, but it isn’t law yet! It’s time to build pressure on your Senators to vote for it.Call your Senators today via the Senate switchboard: (202) 224-3121.
Support for D.C. Statehood
By passing H.R. 1, the House went on the record for the first time in history as supporting statehood for D.C. Members of Congress also reaffirmed their support for the rights of Native Americans and Americans in U.S. territories (like Puerto Rico) to vote.
If the For the People Act becomes law, it would also require a Congressional Task Force to issue recommendations on extending full voting rights — including voting for President — to U.S. territories.
Outlawing “voter caging”
Here’s how voter caging works:
- an organization (say, the local Republican Party) sends non-forwardable mail to voters’ listed addresses
- they use any returned mail to challenge voters’ eligibility
Needless to say, the practice is used to target voters by race and party affiliation. The Brennan Center for Justice lists a few obvious reasons why mail is an unreliable method of verifying eligibility: people move, people lose mail, and people make typos. (One study found Florida records spelled Fort Lauderdale 40 different ways.)
The For the People Act would make voter caging — and other sketchy challenges to voter eligibility — illegal.
Voting rights is just the first part of the For the People Act. The other two parts cover campaign finance reform and ethics reform. (Yep, this is a big bill. There’s a lot to fix.)
Division C, ethics reform, includes provisions to
- require the President and Vice President to disclose their financial interests and tax returns
- prohibit members of Congress from using public funds to settle things like workplace harassment
- prohibit members of Congress from serving on corporate boards
That’s just some of what’s in the bill. There’s plenty more in the full text.
Restored voting rights for ex-felons
Back to voting rights — some states deny voting rights to people convicted of felonies, even if they’ve served their time. (Not Florida, for the most part. Thanks, Amendment 4 voters!) This disproportionately affects people of color who have been targets of the war on drugs and similar measures.
The For the People act would restore voting rights to people convicted of felonies, unless they are currently serving time. Then it goes one step farther: it requires states to send the re-enfranchised voters materials to register to vote. That’s huge.
$1 billion of election security
Of course, all this means nothing if bad actors attack our voting infrastructure. That’s why the For the People Act authorizes $1 billion in grants for election security this fiscal year.
That money would go toward things like training, machinery, testing — and good old paper ballots.
How you can help pass the For the People Act
If you’re a fan of voting rights and ethics, we need your help to pass this bill. It’s set to be introduced in the Senate soon, and that means we need to build pressure on Mitch McConnell to actually bring it to a vote. Call your Senators today via the Senate switchboard: (202) 224-3121.