Political issues are often at the forefront of controversy, debate and fiery disagreements where persons of different opinions are unable to reach a mutual conclusion. The For the People Act of 2019 Bill HR1, is no different. Instituted by the Democritc congressional majority, the bill focuses on fairness in political campaigning and voter rights.
Here’s what you need to know about HR1 from a non-biased perspective.
For the People Act Objectives
The aim of the For the People Act of 2019 is to improve the democratic values of America as a nation. This bill is intended to enhance the power of everyday people in politics and give more power to the larger American population.
The Democratic party claims that there are areas where the American people’s rights in political campaigns and electoral matters has previously been neglected. To resolve these concerns, the bill mainly focuses on political problems in three areas:
- Campaign financing
- Government ethics
- Voting rights
By changing legislation in these three areas, the Democratic party hopes to distribute political power for candidates more fairly, allowing the broader general population more control over electoral outcomes.
For the People Act of 2019: Practical Implications
As stated, the HR1 bill handles the important issue of controlling power, with the aim of providing more power to American citizens. Here are some of the main ways in which the bill will change legislation to accomplish these goals.
Controlling Campaign Financing
By executing stricter regulations regarding how political candidates finance their campaigns, the For the People Act of 2019 aims to prevent financial wealth from governing political outcomes in our nation. Some of the legislation changes in bill regarding campaign finance include:
- Requiring all organizations that are involved in electoral expenditure to disclose donors
- Improving political spending transparency by requiring disclosure to voters regarding who paid for online political campaign advertisements
- Strengthen oversight to ensure that campaign finance laws are strictly adhered to and heighten accountability in this area
- Allowing ordinary Americans to support political campaigns through a donor-focused public financing system
- Setting boundaries in place to restrict foreign companies from funding US elections
- Requiring government contractors to disclose how many is spent for political purposes
Money is power, and this is exactly why the bill aims to regulate political campaign financing more carefully.
By restricting donations and allowing the broader public to not only politically, but also financially support campaigns, the Democratic party aims to restrict money from being the only source of power in America. The party believes that requiring political candidates to rely on “big money” donors creates a situation where some of the wealthiest Americans have too much power – all based on the sole premise of their wealth.
Changes to Government Ethics and Accountability
Government ethics is a vital in allowing the citizens of America to trust that governance of this country is in good hands. Changes that the new bill made to matters of government ethics and accountability include:
- The ban of members of Congress to serve on corporate boards
- Requiring presidential and vice-presidential candidates to disclose three years’ worth of tax returns
- Establishment of rules of ethics binding on the Supreme Court
The changes in the new bill regarding government ethics and accountability are still under debate. Specifically, it is unclear whether Congress has the constitutional authority to impose some of the legislation regarding the Supreme Court, as the Supreme Court was established by the Constitution.
Changes to Voter Rights
Under the new bill, a few important changes have been made to voter rights. These changes include:
- Granting previously convicted felons the right to vote
- Automatic voter registration
- Online voter registrations
- The institution of voting day as a federal public holiday
- Enhancing election security, particularly by using a paper-based voting system
- Prohibit voter purges, thereby helping voters retain their right to vote
- Limit partisan gerrymandering
Many of the changes are controversial. However, there are some legislation changes that could certainly help voters execute their right to vote more easily. The declaration of election day as a public holiday, for instance, could greatly help many voters who might otherwise not be able to vote due to work.
Additionally, while opinions of the matter may differ, there’s no doubt that increased voting rights for previously convicted felons will lead to a larger number of Americans voting in the coming elections.
Opposing Responses to the For the People Act
Some of the main concerns from opposition to the For the People Act of 2019, includes disputes regarding certain areas of legality when considering existing amendments and legislation.
Another concern raised by opposition is the concern that the changes included in the bill won’t successfully allow elections to be more democratic or free, but will instead allow for new ways in which electoral power can be manipulated.
When it comes to concerns regarding the bill being in conflict with amendments and the conflict in authorities, opposition parties brought up the following issues:
- Suggesting that previously convicted felons should be undeniably granted the right to vote is in conflict with the 14th Amendment, which states that states have the authority to deny persons the right to vote based on “participation in rebellion and other crimes”.
- HR1 is conflict with the 10th Amendment, as it grants a three-judge panel the authority to redraw congressional districts.
Opposition parties are concerned that the changes in HR1 are not only unconstitutional, but will impose on the rights Americans in certain ways. There is also concern that the legislation in the bill will lead to states having less control in electoral processes, which some say, is micro-managing the way in which elections are run.
Those opposing the bill don’t believe that disclosing to voters who paid for online political campaign ads. One of the main concerns opposing parties have with this change is that it will largely complicate the process of advertising political campaigns online. Especially the legal aspect of advertisements. Specifically, tech companies can also be held liable for displaying ads that were sponsored by an unauthorized person.
The increased legal risks involved with online campaign advertisements will lead to a significant cost increase. This cost increase will make online political ads less financially accessible going forward, as legal costs will become overly inflated. Opposing parties suggest that the irony of this legislation is that the significant costs involved in online political advertising will make it accessible to only the ultra-wealthy, achieving the opposite effect of what the bill is intended to do.
Many more concerns were raised regarding the bill. However, the main issues raised were all centered around whether all legislation contained in HR1 is constitutional and fair. Opposition concerns are that the widespread effects the bill will affect electoral freedom in ways that won’t inevitably produce elections that are more fair – ultimately leading to a situation where wealth and electoral power still aren’t mutually exclusive, perhaps even promoting a scenario where money drives voting power in the US.
The distribution of power, as well as conflicts of interest regarding electoral matters, isn’t one that will be resolved easily. Struggles for power and conflicts in opinions regarding how elections should be handled in order to be viewed as free and democratic, will continue to exist. For the best interest of all Americans, it’s important to be educated on proposed changes, as well as how changes will affect the electoral process.
For most Americans, however, their right to vote remains one of the most powerful and impactful ways they are able to control the situation in the US. By learning more about political disputes and the effects they have on the country, US citizens can choose to support political candidates with views that align with their own beliefs. The power of citizens to vote for ideals they believe in remains as an integral value which all Americans should gladly support and fight for, regardless whether they believe HR1 will facilitate this right.