In September 2021, eight Senators introduced the Freedom to Vote Act (S. 2747) in Congress. But what is it? What does it mean for the future of voting rights? And what happened to the For the People Act (S. 1)?
A Little Background
After passage in the House of Representatives and months of consideration in the Senate, a Republican Senate minority filibustered the For the People Act in June 2021. Since then, Senators have proposed a piece of voting rights legislation as a compromise: the Freedom to Vote Act. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced this new legislation—which was also co-sponsored by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA)—as an alternative to the For the People Act because of the lack of bipartisan support for S.1.
How is the Freedom to Vote Act different from the For The People Act?
Similarly, the Freedom to Vote Act is a once-in-a-lifetime pro-voter, pro-democracy reform package.
|For The People Act||Freedom to Vote Act|
|Automatic Voter Registration though DMVs to ensure online voter registration access||x||x|
|Mandatory 15 consecutive days of in-person early voting (including 2 weekends)||x||x|
|Same-day voter registration at all polling locations by 2024||x||x|
|No-excuse mail in voting for all voters in federal elections||x||x|
|Counting of all mail-in ballots sent by Election Day and received within 7 days of an election||x||x|
|Counting of all provisional ballots for eligible races in a county, regardless of the precinct in which they were cast||x||x|
|Public holiday for Election Day||x|
|Voting restoration for people who were formerly incarcerated who have served their sentenced time||x||x|
|Mandatory nonpartisan criteria for redistricting||x|
|Mandatory use of independent commissions for drawing new congressional districts||x|
|Voluntary public financing program for political campaigns||x|
|State prohibition on enacting laws that make voting harder, with any new restrictions subject to heightened scrutiny by the courts||x|
|Uniform standards for voter identification||x|
What would the Freedom to Vote Act mean for the future of voting rights?
For way too long, the American people have been calling for national standards to protect our freedom to vote, ensure fair representation, and get big money out of politics. The Freedom to Vote Act creates national standards for how states conduct federal elections, gives people back their power against big money, and expands the freedom to vote by making sure every American has equal access to the ballot box.
What can you do?
The future of our democracy is in the hands of Congress, and it is up to us to hold them accountable for voting for a just democracy. Take action here: Call, email, or tweet at your U.S. Senators to tell them it is crucial that they pass the Freedom to Vote Act to protect our democracy.
About the Author
Katy Butler is the Senior Digital Engagement Strategist at The Andrew Goodman Foundation. In her role, she supports the lifecycle of digital campaigns and strengthens engagement strategies.