The League of Women Voters of Alaska strongly supports the For the People Act, a bill that has recently passed the U.S. House (as H.R.1) and is now in the Senate (S.1). The League supports this bill because it establishes safeguards for the voting public and makes our democracy stronger.
The For the People Act addresses many aspects of our voting and campaigning processes, and fair elections are at the top of the list of improvements. Improved access to the ballot box, the restoration of the voting rights act (now named the John Lewis VRAA), automatic registration, restoration of felon rights, and an adequate number of polling places to reduce long lines are just a few of the changes needed across the country. The status of these voting issues vary across the states, and this bill would help equalize voting processes in all states so that all eligible voters have equal access to the voting process. Right now the Brennan center estimates that 253 state voting bills that would in a variety of ways limit voting access are making their way through 43 state legislatures. It is the federal government’s responsibility to stop voter suppression so that all eligible citizens have access to the voting process.
Money in politics is another area the For the People Act addresses, particularly the existence of dark money where large-dollar donors’ identities are shielded. The bill also sets up a small-donor public campaign finance system paid for by a nominal surcharge on penalties assessed against corporate wrongdoers. This system allows candidates to focus on their constituents rather than on big dollar donors and increases the voice of small donors. And in addition, the Federal Election Commission would be reorganized to prevent the political gridlock that has recently hampered it. The bill would give the FEC strengthened powers to investigate campaign complaints.
Finally the For the People act would fortify ethics laws. Presidents would be required to disclose their tax returns. The bill would strengthen the Office of Government Ethics ensuring the Office has sufficient resources to enforce the law. And a code of ethics would be required for the Supreme Court, the only group of federal judges not bound by the Code of Conduct for U. S. Judges.
The League of Women Voters sees the For the People Act as a piece of legislation that will strengthen our democracy at a time when many feel that democracy has been weakened. This bill would aid those citizens who do their part by being active voters who make voting decisions based on the best information they can find. Democracy can thrive with honest and fair laws and citizens who are informed voters.
• Judy Andree is president of the League of Women Voters of Alaska, a retired associate professor UAS and a 54-year resident of Alaska.