WASHINGTON (January 5, 2021)—The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced HR1, the For the People Act of 2021, a bill to protect voting rights, reduce corruption and improve electoral systems. If passed into law, this bill would ensure a stronger democracy that is more accessible and responsive, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Below is a statement by Taofik Oladipo, policy advocate for the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.
“Last November, voters turned out in historic numbers across the country—but too many voters, especially in Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities, found their access to the democratic process blocked by restrictive voting rules and their voices drowned out by the spending of powerful industries. No one should have to go to extraordinary lengths just to participate in their own government. No one should feel like their voice doesn’t matter. We need serious reforms to reduce the power of money in politics and make sure everyone can vote. HR1 would be a huge step in the right direction.
“This bill would reduce unnecessary and racially-discriminatory barriers to voting. It would prevent politicians from manipulating the voter rolls or district maps to entrench their own power. It would increase disclosure and transparency to reduce the distorting impact of big money on politics. And it would help states expand access to voting so that everyone can participate. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do, and we urge Congress and President-elect Joe Biden to pass it into law.
“Our country is only as strong as our democracy, and everyone deserves the chance to participate in choosing our leaders. We can’t tackle challenges like COVID-19, climate change and environmental injustice unless the communities most at risk from these threats can make their voices heard. Building a safer and healthier country starts with free and fair elections, and HR1 will help make that vision a reality.”
The reforms in HR1(the For the People Act of 2021) reflect recommendations for improving elections laid out in previous UCS publications, including “Fighting Corruption, Promoting Evidence;” “Our Unhealthy Democracy;” and “COVID-19 Underscores the Need for Voting Reform.”