The 2020 election and efforts to limit ballot access in Texas, Georgia and elsewhere, underscores the urgent need for comprehensive, structural democracy reform. We must defeat voter suppression, gerrymandering and a torrent of special-interest dark money just to exercise their right to vote in our democracy and make their voices heard.
We must protect and expand the rights to vote, preserve the integrity of our elections, crack down on lobbyists and Washington insiders, hold elected officials accountable and end the era of big, secret, special interest money in our politics. This historic reform effort would return power back to the people and help us build a more just, equitable, and prosperous future – for all Americans.
Protecting Access to the Ballot Box
I voted for and sponsored the "For the People Act," which puts the power back in the hands of the American people as it protects clean and fair elections through improving access to the ballot box, promoting election integrity, and ensuring election security. You can watch my floor speech in support of its passage here. This legislation looks to end the dominance of big money in our politics by guaranteeing disclosure of political ads, empowering citizens with a multiple matching system for small donations and strengthening campaign finance oversight; and ensures public servants work for the public interest by fortifying ethics law and imposing greater ethics enforcement in Washington.
It also includes a provision I authored to ensure the disclosure of the business tax returns, as well as the personal individual returns, of candidates for President and Vice President.
Clean and fair elections
The For the People Act looks to expand access to the ballot box by:
- Expanding online voter registration
- Implementing automatic voter registration and same day registration across the country
- Restoring federal voting rights to the formally incarcerated
- Expanding early voting opportunities
- Expanding voting by mail opportunities
- Reducing long lines and wait times for voters
- Expanding access to voting for citizens living in U.S. territories
- Eliminating barriers to voting by mail for Native American voters on tribal lands
- Ending the dominance of big money in our politics
- Ensuring public servants work for the public interest
End the Dominance of Big Money in Our Politics
Enhancing Disclosure by shining a light on dark money in politics and enhance transparency in our elections. Ensuring big money spenders disclose their spending so voters can follow the money, establish online political ad disclosure requirements, and end the so-called ‘nesting-doll' sham that allows big-money contributors and special interests to hide the true funding source of their political spending.
Empowering Citizens by creating a multiple matching system for small donations. Reaffirming Congress' authority to regulate money in politics, pushing back on the Supreme Court's harmful Citizens United decision.
Ensure Public Servants Work for the Public Interest
We must increase accountability in government by expanding conflict of interest law, expanding disclosure requirements for lobbyists and foreign agents, and slowing the revolving door, preventing Members of Congress from serving on corporate boards.
As Texans know so well, Republicans have long found success creatively suppressing the votes. It is hardly a surprise that their reaction to those voters who managed to overcome the many obstacles placed in their way, has now turned to throwing out and repressing the vote - ignoring the majority's will.
If we cannot prevail in the Senate, millions will be effectively obstructed from participating. As I noted in my March 2021 floor speech:
"Fearing voters, fearing accountability and their opposition to this bill, and in legislative efforts across the country and some 43 states, the Republican solution to losing power in the last election is to reduce the number of voters in the next election. "Truth" for them is not a matter of the facts; it's whatever Trump declares. "Fraud" is their description of any election that they lose. Today's bill favors turning out the votes, not throwing them out. Let's protect America democracy, which worships above all, the voice of the people expressed through free and fair elections. Not bowing before the golden idol of one who has betrayed our country."