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 been engaged in investigations into Russian influence. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found that then-candidate Donald Trump knowingly welcomed the assistance of Russians set on interfering in our elections. American intelligence agencies are in consensus that Russia conducted a widespread social media campaign to sow disinformation and division and a criminal email hack-and-dump targeting the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton Campaign. As Robert Mueller testified before the House Intelligence Committee, Russia and other nations are already at it again, preparing to throw a wrench into our next election. In addition to holding accountable those who illegally disrupted the 2016 election, we must be on guard to prevent similar interference in the future.

Congresswoman Speier voted for the House-passed H.R. 2722, the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act, which would provide over $600 million of federal funding to state and local election officials to replace aging voting machines with secure paper ballot systems and hire qualified IT and cybersecurity staff to help run elections. The bill also requires states to perform hand-count audits of paper ballots to quickly detect any system errors and make sure there is an accurate vote count. With Russia and other bad actors actively seeking to undermine our free elections, these measures are necessary to protect the people’s voice in government.

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.

Congresswoman Speier is a cosponsor of H.R. 1, the For The People Act, which 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.

Ethics Reform

During the Trump Administration, we have witnessed unprecedented exploitation of loopholes in ethics laws governing the conduct of individuals running for the Offices of the President and Vice President, which decreased information available to voters to make informed decisions. In response, Congresswoman Speier introduced H.R. 1028, the RIGHT Act, which would complement H.R. 1 in its efforts to strengthen long-standing ethical norms. To increase transparency and accountability surrounding elections, the bill would require candidates for President and Vice President to disclose 20 years of federal tax returns and prevent government contractors from donating to presidential inaugural committees.

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