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House passes sweeping voting rights, electoral reform bill

How can a country set an example to other countries on Democracy when their own political Democracy is still trying to secure voting rights for its citizens? Here we go again with the same ole, same ole, political game run by cheaters and hypocrites.

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HR 1 aims to make Election Day a federal holiday, help publicly finance elections, and require presidents to release their tax returns.

House Democrats passed expansive legislation Friday aimed at increasing ballot access, including making Election Day a federal holiday, as well provisions for publicly financing elections and requiring presidents to release their tax returns.

The bill, known as HR 1, passed by a vote of 234-193 Friday. It has been a top priority for Democrats since the party took back the House in November, following an election marked in large part by voting rights issues, including Stacey Abrams’ refusal to concede in the Georgia gubernatorial election and the passage of Amendment 4 in Florida, which re-enfranchised 1.4 million formerly incarcerated people.

While many of the individual provisions have been considered in previous bills, progressive voting rights and electoral reform legislation has been essentially nonexistent since Democrats lost the House eight years ago, and the party has made HR 1 their top priority since taking back the chamber.

Though the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate — and even less likely to be signed into law by President Donald Trump — legislators and activists have cheered the bill’s passage as step one and hope it will become law should a Democrat win in 2020.

“In the years since the Supreme Court struck down critical protections in the Voting Rights Act, voters of color have faced intimidation, voter suppression and an outright theft of our electoral power,” Jennifer Epps-Addison, network president and co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, said in a statement Friday. “HR1, the For the People Act, is a step forward in ensuring that all of us, no matter who we vote for, what we look like, or what we believe, can have our voices heard in our democracy. It improves access to the ballot, strengthens election security, ends partisan gerrymandering, and bolsters oversight and accountability of elected officials. Democracy is best when all of us can participate in it.”

If signed into law, the legislation would create a national voter registration system and expand access to early online voter registration. It would also institute new donor disclosure requirements for political organizations and a 6-to-1 matching system to multiply small dollar donations to federal campaigns.

Additionally, HR 1 aims to end most first-class travel for federal officials and mandate a new ethical code for the Supreme Court, as well as requiring presidents to release their tax returns, as President Donald Trump has repeatedly refused to do.

“During the campaign, Democrats declared unequivocally that we would clean up corruption to make Washington work for the people. We pledged to reduce the role of money in politics, to restore ethics and integrity to government, and to strengthen voting laws,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), the bill’s principle author, wrote in a Washington Post opinion column last fall. “We now have our marching orders. The new Democratic House is ready to deliver with H.R. 1: a bold reform package to restore the promise of our democracy — a government of, by and for the people.”

Provisions that would make Election Day a federal holiday, as well as implement a small dollar donation matching system, have attracted the ire of Republicans, in the month since Democrats introduced the legislation.

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