House Resolution: 01 – For the People Act
In January 2019 U.S. House Representative Sarbanes (D – MD) introduced the For the People Act of 2019 to institute electoral reform. H.R. 01 passed by the Democrat majority in the House (March 2019) then failed in the Republican-majority Senate (October 2019). It reentered discussion following 2020’s election.
The objective of this bill is to “expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes”. The contents of the bill, though not limited to these areas, once passed, would place into action a series of government reforms meant to establish a new Legislative Branch commission to monitor “democratic institutions” of the United States, create a new code of ethics for judges and justices, and alternative transparent campaign funding systems from the current ones in order to monitor varying sizes of donations to any certain campaign. As for voter reforms, there may be the prohibition of certain stringent criteria that purge voters from voter rolls due to not meeting specific requirements, as well as increase voter participation in elections by reforming election systems to permit flexible time frames for a voter to choose when to become registered and expand electronic voting systems to also include internet voter registration. Additionally, the bill aims to reevaluate statehood for the District of Columbia, increase accountability of promulgated misinformation via the internet, and mandatory disclosure by any presidential or vice-presidential candidate of 10 years of tax returns.
This House Resolution 01 will be at the top of the list for the unified government as they advance efforts to prioritize within this bill “campaign finance reform and voting rights”. More specifically some concerns have arisen as to what may be the effects of this prospective bill being signed into law by President Biden, especially concerns pertaining to fraud in voter registration due to both last-minute registering of voters, instances where cybercriminals may have an influence in internet registration systems, and re-registering to vote after moving to a new state.
In addition to that, state legislatures may lose jurisdiction to redistrict congressional districts, determination of what advertisements may be classified as misinformation, as well as a relatively ambiguous description of penalties relating to preventing interference through voter registration. This could affect individuals or groups who engage in lawful get-out-the-vote efforts or offering aid to individuals in the preparation of voting. Additionally, H.R. 01 plans to end voter re-registration if voters were to move to another state, a concern that was during the Georgia U.S Senate runoffs held last month concerning individuals having just moved to the state since November 2020.
H.R. 01 is ultimately a preview to what is only the beginning of radical legislative voter reforms 2021 and 2022 that will focus on key issues to the Democrat party without much obstruction, which has already been seen with proposed house bills that aim to enhance election integrity, increase restrictive measures for COVID-19, gun control legislation, and many more to come.