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March 27, 2019

Senator Doug Jones Backs Sweeping Reform Package to Expand Access to the Ballot Box

The For the People Act would help expand voting rights, strengthen accountability for public officials, and shed light on dark money in politics

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) today co-sponsored introduction of the For the People Act — a sweeping package of reforms intended to strengthen our democracy by removing barriers to voting, shedding light on the influence of money in politics, and ensuring that public officials are working for the public interest.

“We should be making it easier for eligible Americans to vote, not harder,” said Senator Jones, who is a vocal advocate for restoring voting protections and has also sponsored the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which aims to combat voter suppression. “Voting is a fundamental tenet of our democracy and too often folks in power want to make it more difficult to fulfill this civic duty. The For the People Act  would not only help expand access to the ballot box, it would restore ethics and integrity to our political system by tackling the lack of transparency around dark money in politics and addressing the disproportionate influence of special interests in Washington.”

Companion legislation, H.R. 1, passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year.

The For the People Act  would:

Make It Easier, Not Harder, To Vote

  • Improve Access and Secure Voting Rights – Expands access to the ballot box by taking aim at institutional barriers to voting, such as cumbersome registration systems, limited voting hours and many other roadblocks. The bill creates automatic voter registration across the country, ensures that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full rights restored, expands voting by mail, promotes early voting and online voter registration and modernizes the U.S. voting system.
  • Promote Integrity – Fights back against the assault on voting rights by reaffirming Congress’s commitment to restoring the Voting Rights Act, prohibiting voter roll purges like those seen in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere, and ensuring that discriminatory voter ID laws do not prevent Americans citizens from exercising their rights. This bill would also end partisan gerrymandering to prevent politicians from picking their voters and making Americans feel like their voices do not count.
  • Bolster Election Security – Ensures that American elections are decided by American voters without interference by foreign adversaries. The bill creates a national strategy to protect our democratic institutions, increases oversight over election vendors, and enhances federal support for state voting system security upgrades, including paper ballot voting systems.

Shed Light on the Influence of Dark Money In Politics

  • Guarantee Disclosure – Shines a light on dark money in politics by requiring all political organizations to disclose their donors, which will break the nesting-doll system that allows big-money contributors and special interests to hide their spending in networks of so-called “social welfare” organizations; expands “Stand By Your Ad” provisions; and harmonizes internet disclosure rules with existing broadcast rules.
  • Empower Citizens – Builds a 21st century campaign finance system to increase the power of small donors, reaffirms Congress’s authority to regulate money in politics, and pushes back against Citizens United. This bill levels the political playing field for everyday Americans, creating a multiple matching system for small donations which will be paid for out of penalties on corporations who break the law, and allowing the American people to exercise their due influence in a post-Citizens United world, while reaffirming that Congress should have the authority to regulate money in politics. The new system of citizen-owned elections will break special interests’ stranglehold on Congress and the White House and lay the groundwork for an agenda that serves the American people.
  • Strengthen Oversight – Repairs and restructures the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to break gridlock and enhance enforcement mechanisms, tightens rules on super PACs, and repeals policy riders that block sensible disclosure measures.

Ensure Public Officials Work For The Public Interest

  • Fortify Ethics Laws and Slow the Revolving Door – Breaks the influence of special interests in Washington and increases accountability by expanding conflict of interest law and divestment requirements, slows the revolving door, prohibits members of Congress from serving on for-profit corporate boards, limits first class travel for government officials, ends taxpayer-financed settlements for officeholders, and requires presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.
  • Impose Greater Ethics Enforcement – Gives teeth to federal ethics oversight by overhauling the Office of Government Ethics, requires the Supreme Court to create a new ethical code, and closes registration loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents.

The full text of the legislation is available here.

 

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