Photo: ACLU of Virginia

The House of Representatives voted today to pass HR 1, the Democrats' big package of voting-reform measures, aka the "For the People Act." The measure passed on a party-line vote, because Republicans just can't stand the bill. Letting more Americans vote more easily is obviously a "power grab." Also, some no doubt grumbled that phrases like "for the people" are Republican Worship Words and shall not be used by dirty evil Democrats who all hate America. Let's take a look at the excellent democracy-restoring ideas in this bill, after a brief pause for some asshole to sneer, "it's not a democracy, it's a Republic!!!!"

HR 1 is a great big grab bag of terrific ideas to restore and protect the right to vote for millions of Americans after years of Republican efforts -- at both the federal and state levels -- to rig the system in Republicans' favor. So in a sense, Mitch McConnell was right when he condemned it as a "power grab"; he just failed to mention it's grabbing power back from the rightwing minority that's been imposing its will on most Americans. HR 1 includes a whole bunch of neat features to fix our broken voting system and expand access to the ballot:

  • National automatic voter registration of all citizens over 18 (with an option for people to opt out)
  • Same-day registration on election day
  • A minimum of two weeks of early voting
  • Funding to help states adopt paper ballots
  • Restoration of felons' voting rights after they've completed their sentences
  • An end to aggressive vote purges, particularly that "purge by postcard" scheme several states use where they remove people from the rolls for not returning a postcard what looks like junk mail
  • Creating standardized absentee voting procedures for members of the military and Americans living abroad
  • Making election day a holiday for federal employees and encouraging states to follow suit
  • anti-gerrymandering provisions

Here's the neat thing: While states have the power to run their elections as they see fit, the Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate federal elections. Should HR 1 (or parts of it) become law, states would be free to run state and local elections using different rules, but that would be a huge, expensive pain in the ass, so many would use the same rules mandated for federal elections.

In addition, the bill calls for the restoration of parts of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court gutted in 2013, tightens ethics rules, and demands transparency for "dark money" campaign spending. It would also make running for Congress possible for people who aren't already rich, by creating an option for public funding of congressional campaigns. For every hundred dollars of small-donor money (up to $200 per donor), a candidate would receive $600 in federal matching funds. OMG, scream the Republicans, those crazy Dems want taxpayers to foot the bill for campaigns! Of course, the money would be available to anyone supported mostly by small donors ... oh, we see the problem.

Now that it's passed the House, HR 1 heads to the Senate, where it will slam into a brick wall like that guy in the Paul Simon song who thought he had supernatural powers. Mitch McConnell simply will not bring it up for a vote, and the White House has already announced Donald Trump would veto it anyway. Fine, say Democrats, let's ALL campaign on restoring free and fair elections in 2020 and see how that works out for you assholes.

Nevertheless, Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico says he'll introduce a Senate version of the bill next week, because you sure can learn a lot about legislation from who's against it:

"The thing that we've seen from the Republican leadership and the lobbyists and K Street is that they are completely against it from day one," Udall said. "It's a real full-court press to stomp this out early."

Rep. Tom Malinowsky (D-New Jersey) is completely confident HR 1 will become law, albeit maybe not right away:

[The] Senate will pass HR 1, and if it doesn't happen with the current leadership, it'll happen with the leadership we elect by running on this agenda.

Another freshman Democrat, Max Rose of New York, said this is much more than a show vote, because of what it's gonna show, you see. After taking a nice victory lap for democracy, said Rose,

We're going to put a very simple question before the Republicans in the Senate: Are you on the side of your own voters or are you on the side of special interests? I am eager to hear what their answer is, and I know that those who are going to go to the polls in 2020 are equally eager as well.

And as we said t'other day when House Dems passed a bill requiring universal background checks for guns, this isn't merely a "symbolic" vote like the many times Republicans voted to "repeal" Obamacare, because unlike those bills, HR 1 is a real bill, crafted in a form that can be passed in 2021 if Dems retake the Senate and the presidency. For that matter, as Malinowsky pointed out, it's a hell of a good way for Democrats to achieve that outcome in 2020.

Here's hoping Senator Stacey Abrams is there to help pass it, huh? (Or hell, maybe President Abrams could sign it!) Let the Republicans gripe all they want about their precious fake "majority" being eroded -- we saw through that hypocrisy back in our our formative political years, when Gil Scott-Heron put it so eloquently in his song about the fake "mandate" of Ronald Ray-gun: "God damn it -- first one wants freedom Then the whole damn world wants freedom!"

Gil Scott-Heron - B-Movie

The first thing I wanna say is, "Mandate my ass." He's talking about you, Mitch.

[Roll Call / WaPo / CNN / Photo: ACLU of Virginia]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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