The For The People Act Could Bolster Democracy

The Andrew Goodman Foundation believes that the unprecedented voter engagement of the 2018 Midterm Elections will have an undeniable impact on the legislative agenda of the new Congress. That’s why we applaud the House’s introduction of HR1 yesterday, also known as the For the People Act.

Last election cycle, 37 states voted on ballot measures. Of those, 11 voted on measures involving voting. In Michigan, lawmakers passed Proposal 3, allowing for automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration, as well as expanding access to absentee ballots. This was an incredible win for voting rights advocates. In Florida, voters passed Amendment 4, automatically restoring the voting rights of an estimated 1.5 million former felons. However, this was scaled back as Florida government officials stalled implementation. Other attacks on democracy, such as the required use of voter ID, were birthed in states like Arkansas and North Carolina.

The For the People Act has been dubbed a “sweeping anti-corruption bill.” It exemplifies that lawmakers are ready to listen to voters. The bill focuses on campaign finance, voting rights, and good governance, all of which remain at the crux of our nation’s attention. The campaign finance section of the bill provides a voluntary 6-1 match of small donations for candidates for president and Congress while taking other measures to reform campaign financing. On the governance end, the bill takes steps to ensure public officials respect ethical standard by requiring any president to disclose his or her tax returns, creating a new ethical code for the Supreme Court, and prohibiting members of Congress from “using taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment cases or buy first-class plane tickets.” Lastly, the Voting Rights section of the bill focuses on three pillars: Restoring the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was dismantled by the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County vs. Holder decision, creating a new national voter registration system, and strengthening elections security.

We believe every eligible voter deserves a right to participate in our democracy. Legislation like the For The People Act reminds us why our work to ensure that young voices and votes are a powerful force in democracy is more important than ever. It brings us closer to realizing the legacies of civil rights martyrs like Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner. Grassroots movements influence the hearts and minds of public officials. That’s why we’ll work every day to diligently preserve and achieve the greatest and most just vision of our country. Join us as we continue to knock on doors, register youth voters, particularly minority and low-income voters in the South, and expand voting rights for all Americans, together.