As people of faith, we believe every person has the God-given right to self-determination. One of the founding principles of our country is the ability to participate in our democracy, and yet we continue to see the right of self-determination threatened by significant barriers to voting accessibility. The prevalence of gerrymandering, archaic and antiquated voter registration polices and unconstitutional voter purges make it harder for many individuals to vote. These barriers are especially harmful to low income individuals and persons of color. Additionally, the current system of unchecked money in campaigns means that many voices are being ignored and denied.
In early March, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the “For the People Act of 2019,” a sweeping bill aimed at protecting the rights of American voters and getting money out of politics. Some of the main provisions of H.R.1 include:
Expanding voter registration and access to voting, including making Election Day a national holiday, limiting the removal of voters from voter rolls, and ensuring that polling locations are more easily accessible to all voters.
Requiring Super Political Action Committees (PACs) and “dark money” organizations to make their donors public.
Setting up nonpartisan redistricting commissions to end partisan gerrymandering and creating a new national automatic voter registration system asking voters to opt out, rather than opt in.
Adding a constitutional amendment overturning the “Citizens United” Supreme Court ruling, ending the ability of corporations to have the same power as individual citizens when it comes to political spending.
The principles in the “For the People Act” eliminate powerful barriers that keep voters from participating in our democracy. It provides important reforms in the areas of campaign finance and good governance that are imperative for a healthy and fully functioning government. This legislation challenges the status quo of our current campaign finance structure and voting system and asks instead that our democracy be open and accessible to all citizens. It is only through building new structures and dismantling those of oppression can we have a democratic system that is truly representative and one that works toward the common good for all.
Please urge your Senators to vote yes on the “For the People Act.” Now more than ever, it is critical for justice advocates to help work for fair elections and ensure that the rights of all voters are protected.