What’s in Democrats’ latest voting legislation, and what would the bills do?

Democrats are redoubling their efforts to push through federal voting legislation through a tightly divided Senate, a move President Joe Biden continues to advocate.

Two voting bills are being weighed in the Senate.

The first is a sweeping measure called the Freedom to Vote Act, a compromise bill crafted by Senate Democrats after Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., said he would not support a bill broader, the For the People Act. . This bill, which was first introduced in 2019 – before the latest wave of restrictive bills passed by Republican legislatures – included a long list of Democratic priorities.

The second bill, the John Lewis Advancement of Voting Rights Act, is an update to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, signed as co-sponsor. A version of the bill has already been passed by the House.

Democrats say it’s imperative to pass a bill. Fueled by former President Donald Trump’s stolen election lie, 19 states passed restrictive election laws last year, and some legislatures are expected to consider more of them this year.

Both bills have the backing of the Senate’s 50 Democrats and Independents, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., has vowed to put them to a vote before Martin Luther King Jr.’s recess on Monday. But without the support of 10 Republicans, whose votes would be needed for the legislation to cross the 60-vote threshold, the legislation risks failing.

Democrats say they will then pivot to try to change Senate rules to remove the 60-vote requirement, a move Biden approved on Tuesday. But the move is unlikely to win the support of the 50 voting Democratic senators it must pass.

Here’s what’s in the proposals:

National standards for voting access

The Freedom to Vote Act would create a set of standards for federal elections to ensure that voters have similar access to the ballot boxes across the country.

Lawyers say the provisions would neutralize ballot box restrictions many states advanced last year and plan to move forward this year, while also setting standards that would make U.S. elections more similar from state to state.

States would be required to offer a minimum number of early voting days and the ability to vote by mail for any reason. Some of the recently enacted restrictions have limited the hours and days of early voting.

After postal voting was heavily used during the coronavirus pandemic, Republican-controlled states – some of which already limited postal voting to people with excuses like medical conditions or travel – imposed new requirements and regulations .

If states choose to require voter identification, the bill would create a national standard of acceptable forms; the standard would allow for a wider range of identification documents – and electronic copies – than some states with strict voter identification laws currently allow.

The bill would also make election day a national holiday, which advocates say would make it easier for people to vote. Others warned it would make it even more difficult for shiftworkers and those with childcare issues to vote.

To crack down on long lines, which historically have affected communities of color disproportionately, the bill would require states to keep voting lines 30 minutes or less. The Justice Department used to review polling station closures that can lead to long lines under the Voting Rights Act before the Supreme Court eviscerates it in 2013; since then hundreds of polling stations have closed in southern states.

The bill would also create or increase the penalties for voter intimidation and deception to counter the disinformation and disinformation about elections, which has been rampant since 2020.

The Freedom to Vote Act would restore federal voting rights to those convicted of felony after release from prison. State limits on voting by ex-criminals prevented more than 2 million people from voting in 2020, according to the Sentencing Project, an advocacy organization. In Florida, voters sought to re-emancipate those convicted of felony, only for the Republican legislature to reimpose restrictions.

Voter registration would also become easier in many states, which would be required to offer online registration and automatic registration at national motor vehicle agencies. States should also allow voter registration on election day at polling stations, which Republicans say would create opportunities for voter fraud and confusion at polling stations.

Cutting reform

The free vote law would also ban partisan gerrymandering in congressional maps and require neutral redistribution standards for all states and require transparency in the process. This would risk fueling court challenges in states that have already adopted new legislative maps for this year’s election and force states that have yet to draw their maps to adopt the new standards.

Protect election workers and records, and provide legal remedies

The Freedom to Vote Act would make it a federal crime to intentionally harass, intimidate, threaten or coerce election officials, election officers and election volunteers for doing their jobs. In a survey of election workers last year, about 1 in 3 people said they felt unsafe about their job; 1 in 6 people said they had also been threatened.

Conservative critics have argued that the legislation could intimidate supporters of polls, who monitor the work of election officials.

The bill would also reaffirm the ability of voters to sue in federal court if they believe their votes or the right of those votes to be fairly counted have been violated, which advocates say would give voters a remedy. electoral subversion. Advocates hope the measure would ask federal courts to continue enforcing access to the vote.

Election records and paper ballots would be subject to new requirements and regulations to prevent the use of election materials in partisan ballot examinations like the one in Maricopa County, Arizona, after the 2020 election. was subsequently decertified by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs due to the work of inexperienced third-party contractors. However, official audits would be needed after the elections to build public confidence and transparency.

Campaign finance reform

While the Freedom to Vote Act is often seen as a reform of voting and electoral administration, as well as a response to restrictions put forward by Republicans, it would also address a long-standing Democratic priority, campaign finance.

To limit the effect of anonymous money in elections, the bill would require disclosure of major donors by entities that spend more than $ 10,000 in an election reporting cycle while also subjecting super PACs to news. rules to separate their operations from campaigns.

Campaign funding limits have been a part of Democrats’ wishlist policy since the Supreme Court ruling on United Citizens in 2010 lifted limits on corporate campaign contributions. Republicans oppose the limits as a violation of free speech, but they are open to increased disclosure rules.

The bill would also create a small donor matchmaking program for opting House candidates, apparently in an effort to hold small donors accountable.

The Federal Election Commission, which has been hampered by a partisan deadlock, would be reworked to be less dependent on a majority of the commission to approve new inquiries and to allow the commission’s attorney general to investigate and issue subpoenas.

Update the law on the right to vote

A separate and much smaller bill would update the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A version of the House Act, named after John Lewis, the civil rights leader who served in Congress for more than 30 years old and died in 2020, was passed by the House in August. . Murkowski and other senators updated the bill in the Senate in November.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was landmark legislation that banned discriminatory election laws and gave the Department of Justice the power to challenge new state laws in jurisdictions with a history of discrimination prior to their implementation, through ‘a process called preclearance.

In 2013, the Supreme Court said in Shelby County v. Holder that the formula used to decide which states were precleared was unconstitutional; the bill would update the formula, subjecting states with at least 15 voting rights violations over 25 years – or 10 if one was committed by the state itself – to the process. A state could opt out of the preclearance process if it avoided violations for a decade.

At the time of the Shelby decision, some or all of 15 states were subject to preclearance. Wendy Weiser, an expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October that seven states – Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia – and Cook County of Illinois would be eligible for preclearance, with a long list of voting rights violations among them. Alabama and Florida are “close” to qualifying, she added.

The bill would also make it easier for lawyers to prosecute under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, strengthening the protections in the law for groups of voters who are disproportionately harmed by voting rules. vote; the Supreme Court limited the use of section 2 in a decision last year.

The bill would also add a Native American Voting Rights Act, which includes a number of provisions to make it easier for voters on tribal lands. The bill would require states to offer polling stations and voter registration on tribal lands.

Related Posts

error: Content is protected !!