LWVUS sent the following letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives highlighting the need for HR1, the For the People Act.
Members of the 116th Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear members of the 116th Congress,
Today, our democracy is out of balance. That makes it harder to solve the big problems facing our country and our communities. But right now we have a real opportunity for change and solutions that work.
As a response to the impact our broken democracy has had on civil rights, and many other issues facing the country, the Declaration for American Democracy coalition was formed. This collection of more than 120 organizations has come together to press for top to bottom, systemic political reforms to return power in our government to the people and the League of Women Voters is proud to stand with them in that effort.
Following the 2013 Supreme Court Shelby decision which gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, our current system allows more blatant and rampant voter suppression across the country that defies the foundational principles of fairness, equity, and open, free access of eligible citizens to vote. The unfortunate result is that our government has become more responsive and protective of vote suppressors than to the people. That must end with this Congress.
In the 2018 midterm elections we saw voter suppression in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, as well as other states across the country. Issues included inadequate number of functioning machines, ill-equipped facilities to accommodate the disabled, hours-long lines, and misinformation to voters on Election Day regarding their registration. With the span of issues across the country, this is no longer simply a state issue, but one that must be addressed nationally.
The American people know that Washington is not representing their best interests when millions of Americans who are eligible to vote cannot do so because they are not registered, voter ID laws are used as a tool to suppress the vote, millions of Americans are disenfranchised due to a felony conviction, and a number of states are improperly purging eligible voters from the registration rolls.
The American people know that Washington is not representing their best interests when congressional districts are drawn to achieve highly partisan results at the expense of fair representation for citizens.
The American people know that Washington is not representing their best interests when executive branch, congressional, and judicial ethics rules have major flaws and are not properly used for oversight and enforcement.
The American people know that we can’t fix vote suppression and voter purging until we repair our democracy.
We are proud to stand with the Declaration for American Democracy coalition in calling for:
- A strong democracy where voting is a fundamental right and a civic responsibility.
- A strong democracy that serves the people rather than the private interests of public officials and wealthy political donors.
- A strong democracy where our influence is based on the force of ideas, not the size of our wallets.
- A strong democracy where people know who is trying to gain influence over our representatives, who is trying to influence our votes, and how and why policy is being made.
- A strong democracy that works to respond to the needs of all people and communities, building trust in governance and equity.
We understand the importance of seizing the historic opportunity we face to repair our political system by moving immediately on a single package of comprehensive democracy reforms. We stand ready to work with you to achieve this critically important outcome.
The upcoming 116th Congress could make history with the first comprehensive package of democracy reforms scheduled for 2019, HR1. Since the announcement of HR1, LWVUS has been talking to folks on the Hill and working with partner organizations to help shape the bill’s language and ensure that voting rights are strengthened by this important legislation.