Standing Up to Voter Suppression
It’s time to tackle the big, structural problems that keep our democracy from working for everyone. It’s time to pass the For the People Act, a sweeping reform bill that would expand voting rights, add millions of eligible Americans to the rolls, and reduce the influence of big money in our politics.
Far too many Americans have lost faith in our government because our democracy has never worked for all of its citizens. Instead, it perpetuates a status quo that works well for the rich, white, and well-connected.
Rampant voter suppression prevents millions of Americans from having a voice in government. Barriers to voting and representation — like gerrymandering, racist voter ID laws, long lines, unnecessary hurdles to registration, and felony disenfranchisement — disproportionately marginalize Black and Brown people, skewing power in favor of white Americans.
Fighting back against voter suppression is especially urgent given the onslaught of voter suppression bills we’re seeing across the country from Arizona to Georgia. In response to the historic voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election, Republicans are doing everything in their power to make it more difficult for Americans to cast ballots in future elections. They know their chances of winning decrease when more people vote.
What kind of tricks is the GOP up to? In Arizona, they’ve introduced a bill that makes it a felony for a parent to forward their out-of-state college student an absentee ballot if it’s sent to a home address. A bill in Florida seeks to get rid of all absentee ballot drop boxes, which were used by millions to vote in 2020. And in Georgia, the state legislature has successfully passed a bill that makes it a crime to give water to voters standing in line and severely limits the ability to vote absentee in the state. These laws reinforce the systemic racism in our country and are yet another barrier to building a truly inclusive democracy.
Our broken system of funding elections further reinforces existing inequalities. The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United vs. FEC allowed wealthy donors and special interest groups to spend unlimited amounts helping elect candidates. This gave the overwhelmingly white, wealthy, and male donors who contribute the vast majority of the money in politics even more sway over our elected officials.
We must act. Without bold and sweeping change, our political system will never be truly democratic, our government will continue to work only for the privileged few, and we leave ourselves open to future anti-democratic leaders coming to power.
The For the People Act Act is a bold step towards reducing the racial and economic inequalities in our political system. It would strengthen our democracy by expanding voting rights, reducing the influence of big money in politics, taking on corruption, and setting minimum standards that would make many of the voter suppression bills currently being proposed illegal.
This legislation would enact automatic voter registration and same day registration nationwide, as well as restore voting rights to the formerly incarcerated, reduce voter purges, and expand early voting.
These changes would stop voter suppression in its tracks and add tens of millions to the voter rolls — particularly voters of color — to help ensure our democracy works for all of us.
Empowering voters of color on such a large scale would dramatically change the American political landscape. Just take the historic Georgia Senate runoff. Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won their Senate seats with narrow margins and their victories certainly would not have been possible without the newly registered voters added to the rolls after activists like Stacey Abrams pushed for the enactment of automatic voter registration four years earlier. Those voters were predominantly younger and people of color.
If we don’t pass the For the People Act, we’ll continue to see successful attacks on voting rights from state legislatures. This bill is a powerful antidote to racist, arbitrary restrictions that will make voting more exclusive and less democratic.
The For the People Act would also reduce corruption in politics by enacting limits on donations from lobbyists and requiring presidents to release their tax returns and divest from financial holdings. It would increase the power of grassroots campaign contributions from ordinary Americans by enacting a small-donor matching program.
Rooting out corruption and enacting public campaign financing would incentivize candidates to seek out support and donations from all of their constituents, not just the white, wealthy donor class. Decreasing the influence of big money and increasing the influence of constituents would also allow a more diverse candidate pool to run for office and be elected.
The Path to Winning
You might be thinking that this is a lot to address in one piece of legislation. And you’re right, the For the People Act is sweeping democracy reform. Ambitious legislation is worth fighting for, which is why we need you with us in this fight.
In 2019, the House passed the bill with unanimous Democractic support, and so there is already momentum now that House Democrats have reintroduced the bill this year. But passage is not guaranteed in the narrowly-controlled Democratic House and even less assured in the 50-50 Senate (with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris!). It will be up to us to let our elected officials know where their constituents stand on democracy reform — and to ensure that they prioritize it and don’t let the filibuster stand in the way.
Make your voice heard in this fight by calling your senator and urging them to pass the For the People Act as soon as possible.
Call Your Senators
The GOP is spearheading a nationwide assault on our freedom to vote. Thankfully, there are two bills in Congress right now that can stop voter suppression in its tracks: the For the People Act & the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
Make a call to your senators, urging them to pass both of these critical pieces of legislation—and not let the filibuster stand in the way.