H.R. 1: The “For The People Act”

Since before the midterms Democrats have been pushing what they asserted would be “HR 1,” a bill to improve democracy in America. It was submitted to the House today, captioned as the “For The People Act.” You can read the nearly 600 pages of it HERE:

The highlights include (though you may want to skip to the last one):

  • Internet Voter Registration: States must provide means for eligible voters to register to vote via the internet.
  • Automatic Voter Registration: States are required to set up systems where if you provide one agency all the documentation required to register to vote then that agency (e.g. DMV, Marriage License Office, etc) must give the information to the voter registration agency which must register you to vote, unless you specifically opt out.
  • Same Day Voter Registration: States must allow you to register and vote on election day.
  • Creation of a felony for hindering, interfering or preventing lawful voter registration. This would criminalize what went on in NC District 9 where Republicans knocked on doors collecting registration packets that they then did not turn in.
  • Prohibition against states from using “voter caging” processes. Voter caging essentially means mailing someone a notice that they will be automatically removed from the voter rolls is they do not respond to the mailing. It’s controversial because people often move or don’t pay attention to what can look like junk mail.
  • Making it a crime to, within 60 days of an election, intentionally spread false information about the time and place of elections. This is aimed at voter suppression efforts that by robo-calls or social media that often targeted minorities.
  • Prohibiting materially false communications relating to claims of endorsement by a party or individual.
  • Felons regain the right to vote unless actually serving in prison at the time of the election.
  • Mandate use of paper ballots to verify election results.
  • Mandates the counting of provisional ballots subject to certain verification procedures.
  • States are required to allow early voting at least 15 days prior to the election.
  • States are required to allow absentee voting by mail subject to signature verification. My reading of it is that it will eliminate requirements in some states that you prove or attest you will be absent on voting day in order to vote absentee.
  • Expanding and standardizing rules for service members overseas to vote absentee.
  • Prohibition against the chief State election official from participating in the political campaign (for Federal office) over which that person has supervisory authority.
  • States are required to provide at least 7 days notice of changes in voting places.
  • Election Day is a Federal holiday.
  • States must establish procedures to allow use of sworn written statements to meet voter ID requirements.
  • Mail and absentee ballots must include free postage.
  • A variety of anti-gerrymandering provisions include requiring states to establish voting districts through a nonpartisan independent state commission. The political party affiliation or voting history of the population of a district may not be considered when establishing voting districts.
  • Voters may not be purged from voter rolls for failure to vote in any prior election or for failure to respond to mail from the state.
  • Enhanced security requirements for vendors of voting machines.
  • Additional enhancements to “voting infrastructure” to improve resistance of voting systems to hacking or other attacks.
  • Corporations and unions must disclose political donations to their shareholders/members.
  • A subtitle called “Honest Ads” is designed to address Russian social media meddling in elections. It requires social media to monitor and report on foreign money used on their sites related to elections and otherwise attempts to improve monitoring and reporting of foreign based use of social media related to elections.
  • Provides additional incentives for use of matching payments to Presidential candidates to encourage their use and the restrictions associated with them.
  • Tightening rules aimed to preventing Super PACs from coordinating with campaigns.
  • Establishment of a permanent Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) enforcement division in the DOJ.
  • Requires the President to divest his business assets into a blind trust to prevent conflicts of interest.
  • All Federal employees must sign an ethics pledge to not accept gifts from lobbyists, accept revolving door bans, hire based on qualifications and accept enforcement of ethical guidelines.

And here’s a big one . . .

  • Major party Presidential candidates must submit the 10 prior years of tax returns to the FEC within 15 days of becoming their party’s candidate. Whoever is a sitting President when the bill becomes law must submit their tax returns within 30 days of enactment. The law provides that the FEC shall make the returns publicly available.
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Retired lawyer & Army vet in The Villages of Florida. Lifelong: Republican (pre-Trump), Constitution buff, science nerd & dog lover. Twitter: @KeithDB80

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