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The Freedom to Vote Act: Strengthening our Democracy

UPDATE: Democrats released a new version of their voting rights bill, H.R.5746, Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. This bill combines the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act into one package. The bill is set to pass the House and move on to the Senate for debate.

Donald Trump’s presidency and attempts to steal the 2020 election brought into sharp focus the importance of preserving and protecting our democracy against ongoing attempts to erode it. While structural problems with our democracy are longstanding, Trump and his GOP enablers added a sickening layer of corruption, and they continue to work to further suppress the vote,  do the bidding of dark money donors, and attack essential democratic norms and the rule of law. To make matters worse, in reaction to the 2020 election, Republican state legislatures across the country doubled down on efforts to suppress the vote, specifically to disenfranchise Black people and people of color. Over 250 bills were introduced in states across the country, all designed to restrict the right to vote. Democrats have an opportunity to push back and to change course. 

Without a functional democracy in which everyone is included and represented, all the issues we care about deeply are at risk. Health care, livable wages, immigration, ending wars, racial justice, climate change—fixing these things requires a democracy that is responsive to the people, not the powerful and wealthy.

In the 117th Congress, Democrats’ first order of business was introducing H.R. 1/S. 1, the For the People Act, signaling that democracy reform is their number one priority. After passing the House, the For the People Act was brought to the Senate floor where Republicans filibustered the bill. When Republicans blocked the bill for a second time, Senate Democrats renegotiated the bill within the Democratic caucus. This new bill, the Freedom to Vote Act, is a robust reform package that targets voter suppression, gerrymandering, money in politics, corruption, and more.

It is crucial that Democrats show their commitment to fighting hard  to ensure that everyone has the unimpeded right to participate in our democracy. With hundreds of voter suppression bills either passed or pending on the state level, we need federal protections more than ever to ensure our democracy represents the people, not the rich and powerful.

Indivisible’s Democracy Reform Agenda

In order to save our democracy, we need a bold day-one democracy agenda: we must pass legislation to democratize the Senate, institute voting rights for all, legitimize the courts, preserve a free and independent media, create fair maps and fair elections, and institute campaign finance reform. Read about our entire democracy reform agenda here.

What is the Freedom to Vote Act

The Freedom to Vote Act,  alongside the D.C. Statehood bill and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, are the cornerstones of the necessary reforms we need to unrig our democracy and make it work for all. The Freedom to Vote Act includes the following provisions:

  • Voter empowerment and access. Through measures such as automatic voter registration, same-day registration, restoring portions of the Voting Rights Act, protecting against improper purging of voter rolls, requiring states to upgrade and secure their election systems, restoring voting rights to those with past criminal convictions, providing adequate early voting opportunities, and improving access to voting for individuals with disabilities, the Freedom to Vote Act ensures that everyone is included and represented in our democracy, and has unimpeded opportunities to participate.
  • Money in politics. A constitutional amendment is needed to overturn the chaos that Citizens United and related Supreme Court decisions unleashed into our campaign finance system. The For the People Act  starts that process by eliminating “dark money” by requiring disclosure of all political spending (including online ads), cutting off cooperation between candidates and super PACs, and empowering the Federal Election Commission to truly enforce campaign finance law.
  • Redistricting and Fair Maps: The Freedom to Vote Act would ban partisan gerrymandering and provide a specific criteria for states to abide by for federal redistricting. States will be able to choose how to best pursue non-partisan redistricting within their state, including with independent redistricting committees.
  • Preventing Election Subversion. After the 2020 election and subsequent efforts to overturn the results by state officials and other bad-faith actors, it was clear there needed to be more protections against election subversion. The Freedom to Vote Act would prevent the arbitrary removal of local election administrators, increase protections for election workers, prohibit deceptive practices that discourage voting, and increase protections of election records and infrastructure.

Call your Senator and demand they support and move swiftly on the Freedom to Vote Act

Passing the Freedom to Vote Act is an essential first step to protecting our democracy. Call your Senators and demand they vote YES on the Freedom to Vote Act and not let the filibuster get in the way of passage.