Democrats have passed an “election reform” bill that some say actually weakens the democratic process and moves control of elections nationwide to Congress.
The bill, which contains sweeping and controversial changes, was passed overnight Wednesday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was “urgently needed” to “repair” democracy.
Officially numbered H.R. 1, the 800-page For the People Act, passed on a razor-thin party-line vote 220-210 with all Republicans voting against it, being joined by one Democrat.
Here’s what the bill does:
- Restructures the non-partisan Federal Election Commission (FEC) into a partisan and, (for now) Democrat-controlled regulatory agency over all elections in the nation.
- Takes away redistricting from elected state legislators and instead uses appointed academics and unnamed elected “officials.”
- Restricts freedom of speech of candidates during campaigns by overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court case.
- Requires disclosure of donors to religious and nonprofit groups (and could be interpreted to mean churches). The requirement affects all Americans, not just candidates.
- Allows incumbents to receive “salaries” from their campaign funds.
- Forces all states to provide a minimum of 15 days of early voting.
- Prohibit candidates from communicating and coordinating with Political Action Committees.
- Creates a slush fund for Congressional candidates by which they could receive up to 6 times the amount of a small donation paid for by government tax and fine revenue. Creates a 4.75 percent “surcharge” on fines and settlement proceeds that small businesses and corporations pay to the government.
- Allows no-excuse late voting.
- Allows no-excuse absentee voting.
- Creates online voter registration.
- Expands the controversial practice of widespread mail-in ballots.
- Forces states to count ballots even if they are received up to 10 days after Election Day.
- Forces states to automatically register eligible voters and offer same-day voter registration.
- Restricts states in their ability to clean up out-dated voter rolls that contain deceased, out-of-state, multiple registrations, and ineligible voters such as felons.
- Overturns all federal and state laws that prevent felons and from voting.
- Imposes new campaign finance rules, including more disclaimers on political advertising.
The proposed legislation would need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. Democrats currently hold the smallest possible majority in the Senate, with 48 Democrats and two independent senators who caucus with them.
It is unclear whether there would be enough support, with the bill needing 10 Republicans to overcome the filibuster and dozens of Republicans already speaking out agains the un-Democratic aspects of the legislation.
“This is called the For The People bill. And in doing so, we combat big, dark, special-interest money in politics and amplify the voice of the American people,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday at an event prior to a vote on the reform bill.
The bill was created by Democrats with no input from Republican members of the House. However, the Biden administration hailed it as bi-partisan and is pushing for passage, saying the legislation is “urgently needed to protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections and to repair and strengthen American democracy.”
A previous version of the bill had passed the Democrat-controlled House 234-193 in 2019 but was not considered by the then Republican-controlled Senate.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice