Securing Our Elections
Elections are the foundational processes of our democracy. We cannot take for granted free and fair elections nor can we ignore Congress’ role in ensuring that elections across the country operate effectively.
Our elections are increasingly under attack. As a Member of the House Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Congresswoman Speier has promoted the necessity of securing our elections against nefarious influence. These elections must also be viewed as free and fair, and seen and experienced as such by all Americans.
Congresswoman Speier cosponsored and voted for the House-passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2021, which, in part, aims to improve the security of U.S. election infrastructure to counter the threat of foreign interference. H.R. 1 takes a whole-of-government approach to securing our elections, including directing the Election Assistance Commission to develop best practices and guidelines for ballot design, providing funding and requiring states to undertake measures to prevent and deter cybersecurity incidents involving computerized voter registration databases, and requiring the Department of Homeland Security to maintain the designation of election infrastructure as critical and requiring they provide timely threat information to chief state election officials.
Recent efforts on January 6, 2021 to overturn the results of our free and fair election through violence were despicable assaults on our democracy and American values. Congresswoman Speier is committed to holding the perpetrators accountable and rooting out domestic terrorism from our country. She has introduced the bipartisan Commission on Domestic Terrorism Act to create an independent, bipartisan commission modeled after the 9/11 Commission to investigate both the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the federal government’s failure to more broadly respond to the threat of domestic terrorism over the past two decades.
Protecting the Vote
Congress must ensure that every vote counts—a foundational and most basic requirement of the U.S. Constitution. Voting rights are under attack across the country, and the Federal Government must act to prevent state election officials from suppressing the vote. Reports of voter suppression and efforts in some states to limit the number of polling places in communities which are predominantly home to people of color demonstrate that constant vigilance to protect hard-won voting rights is necessary. After the devastating Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision that weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the need for Congress to pass legislation to ensure Americans have equal access to the polls became even more acute.
The House-passed H.R. 1, the For The People Act, also promotes clean and fair elections, ends the corrosive power of big money in politics, and imposes ethics reforms to ensure public officials work for the people. Among its provisions, H.R. 1 empowers federal officials to oversee state elections and enforce constitutional standards of one-person, one-vote. Congresswoman Speier believes voters have a right to pick their representatives, not the other way around, and that efforts at the state level to gerrymander Congressional districts are corrosive to our democracy. Recent Supreme Court rulings in Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, which determined that federal courts could not hear partisan challenges to state legislature-drawn voting maps, adds new urgency for Congress to prevent these partisan practices from influencing our system of government.
Getting Dark Money Out of Politics
The Citizens United decision released the floodgates for a wave of unaccountable dark money to overwhelm our electoral system. To protect the voice of the ordinary American voter who doesn’t have millions to spend on super-PAC shadow campaigns, we must empower the voter and candidates with better information and greater public financing and support. This way, we can make sure that voters have an informed choice about who they are voting for and to enable a more diverse and representative slate of candidates on the ballot.
H.R. 1, the For the People Act, will require organizations to disclose large donors, and it creates a matching system for small donations, thus shining a light on dark money that can influence campaigns. Congresswoman Speier is also an original cosponsor of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s We the People Amendment, which would amendment the Constitution to make clear, once and for all, that Constitution does not protect corporations and establish that spending of money to influence elections cannot be construed as protected speech under the First Amendment.
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