The last few months have been a stark reminder of just how fragile Democracy can be. This notion has inspired the Democratic Party to propose a bill also known as the ‘For the People Act’. Let’s take a look at this bill and what it would mean for the future of America’s voting and campaign processes.
This proposed bill has three main goals for changing the way campaigning and voting are done. An article written by Jon Schwarz for theintercept.com explains, “The bill’s provisions largely fall into three categories: First, it makes it far easier to vote, both by eliminating barriers and enhancing basic outreach to citizens. Second, it makes everyone’s vote count more equally, especially by reducing gerrymandering. Third, it hugely amplifies the power of small political donors, allowing them to match and possibly swamp the power of big money.”
The United States is unique in the way that it requires citizens to register to vote. In most other countries, once you come of voting age, you’re automatically registered. You simply have to show up to vote. On the other hand, the U.S. has a two- step process that requires its’ people to register to vote before you can actually participate. This has resulted in a significant amount of people who are ineligible to vote because they have not registered. Streamlining the process is one way this piece of proposed legislation wishes to make voting more accessible to the American people. It also talks about felons being granted their right to vote back upon completion of their sentence. Lastly, it seeks to get rid of voter identity verification via I.D. You would simply be required to sign a sworn statement that says you are, in fact, who you say you are.
Equality of Votes
Gerrymandering is a term used to describe the act of manipulating the boundaries of a district (for election purposes) to favor one party or hurt another. It’s a way for a political party to win the majority of seats in the House of Representatives without having actually won the popular vote. Gerrymandering is certainly being done across the United States and it’s a big reason why a lot of people feel their vote doesn’t matter and their voices aren’t being heard. This proposed piece of legislation seeks to reduce the effects of gerrymandering.
Amplify Smaller Donors
Under the bill, congressional hopefuls can opt into a system that provides matching funds for small donations. The above mentioned article also states, “To qualify, the candidate would need to raise $50,000 from at least 1,000 individuals; take no more than $1,000 from any contributor; and spend no more than $50,000 of their own money. In return, all donations to the candidate up to $200 would be matched with public funds at a 6 to 1 ratio.” While Congress has over 2,000 bills to review throughout this session, it will be interesting to see how this particular bill is received.