We the People deserve a responsive, accountable government that gives us all a stronger voice and puts our needs ahead of special interests.
The House of Representatives introduced their first 2019 priority — the For The People Act, also known as H.R. 1 — is the boldest democracy reform since Watergate. It’s a massive overhaul of money-in-politics, voting, and ethics laws — all to make our democracy more inclusive.
Victory won’t come easily. We will need to fight to make to ensure H.R. 1 passes. We need to prepare right now for a multi-year fight to protect these bold reforms and pass them to ensure that all Americans for generations to come have a healthy democracy, built on transparency, trust, and the full participation of We the People.
What is The For the People Act?
For The People Act is a multifaceted bill addressing voting rights, money-in-politics, redistricting, government transparency, and ethics.
Many parts of the bill are reforms Common Cause has successfully won at the state and local level, often with bipartisan support. Now, the For the People Act is an opportunity to pass these important reforms at the federal level.
It’s also the product of Common Cause members’ efforts in the midterm campaigns. We secured the pledges of more than 100 incoming members of Congress to our Democracy 2018 questionnaire to work aggressively to prioritize issues of voting rights, money-in-politics, and ethics.
Here is a quick snapshot and some highlights, broken down by the three key issue sections of the bill.
- Automatic voter registration
- Online voter registration
- Same day voter registration
- Make election day a federal holiday
- Voting rights restoration to people with prior felony convictions
- Expand early voting and simplify absentee voting
- Prohibit voter purges that kick eligible voters off the registration rolls
- Enhance election security with increased support for a paper-based voting system and more oversight over election vendors
- End partisan gerrymandering by establishing independent redistricting commissions
- Prohibit providing false information about the elections process that discourages voting and other deceptive practices
- Require secret money organizations that spend money in elections to disclose their donors
- Upgrade online political spending transparency rules to ensure voters know who is paying for the advertisements they see
- Create a small donor-focused public financing matching system so candidates for Congress aren’t just reliant on big money donors to fund their campaigns and set their priorities
- Strengthen oversight rules to ensure those who break our campaign finance laws are held accountable
- Overhaul the Federal Election Commission to enforce campaign finance law
- Prohibit the use of shell companies to funnel foreign money in U.S. elections
- Require government contractors to disclose their political spending
- Slow the revolving door between government officials and lobbyists
- Expand conflict of interest law
- Ban members of Congress from serving on corporate boards
- Require major party presidential candidates to publicly disclose their tax returns
- Overhaul the Office of Government Ethics to ensure stronger enforcement of ethics rules
- Require members of the U.S. Supreme Court abide by a judicial code of ethics
The For The People Act is a strong, comprehensive package— and we need to keep it that way– especially as special interest groups and others who prefer the status quo try to weaken it. We can’t let those who fear change stand in our way. Voters delivered a mandate— and an opportunity— to move our democracy forward.
We need a democracy where voters are protected from discrimination and can make themselves heard at the ballot box — with sensible reforms like automatic voter registration. A democracy where electoral districts are drawn fairly so that every voter’s ballot is worth the same. And a democracy where ordinary Americans — more women, people of color, and working people — can run for office without relying on special interest Big Money.
We already have the solutions that work. Letting independent redistricting commissions draw electoral maps is a check on the power of self-interested politicians. Small-donor, citizen-funded elections — which more than two dozen states and localities have enacted — are proven to allow ordinary people to run for office while helping ensure that elected officials stay accountable to the public interest. We must make sure that these vital reforms are included and stay in the For The People Act.