“For the People Act” Explained

You’ve probably heard something about the “Voting rights bill” that the Democrats passed in the House. The Senate is about to take it up.  What’s in it and what are some of the myths that are now being leveled against it?

The bill that the House passed is H.R.1For the People Act”.  It passed along strict party lines.  In the Senate it is called S.1 and it’ll be taken up in committee this Wednesday, March 24th.

It’s much more than a voting rights bill.  It’s a desperately needed democracy reform billVox.com compiled an excellent description of what’s in the bill, so rather than paraphrase, here is an excerpt:

Voting rights

  • Creates new national automatic voter registration that asks voters to opt out rather than opt in, ensuring more people will be signed up to vote. Requires chief state election officials to automatically register eligible unregistered citizens.
  • Requires each state to put online options for voter registration, correction, cancellation, or designating party affiliation.
  • Requires at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections; early voting sites would be open for at least 10 hours per day. The bill also prohibits states from restricting a person’s ability to vote by mail, and requires states to prepay postage on return envelopes for mail-in voting.
  • Establish independent redistricting commissions in states as a way to draw new congressional districts and end partisan gerrymandering in federal elections.
  • Prohibits voter roll purging and bans the use of non-forwardable mail being used as a way to remove voters from rolls.
  • Restores voting rights to people convicted of felonies who have completed their sentences; however, the bill doesn’t restore rights to felons currently serving sentences in a correctional facility.

Campaign finance

  • Establishes public financing of campaigns, powered by small donations. This has long been Sarbanes’s vision:  The federal government would provide a voluntary 6-1 match for candidates for president and Congress, which means for every dollar a candidate raises from small donations, the federal government would match it six times over. The maximum small donation that could be matched would be capped at $200.  This program isn’t funded by taxpayer dollars; instead, the money would come from adding a 4.75 percent fee on criminal and civil fines, fees, penalties, or settlements with banks and corporations that commit corporate malfeasance (think Wells Fargo).
  • Supports a constitutional amendment to end Citizens United.  (requires a separate resolution).
  • Passes the DISCLOSE Act, pushed by Rep. David Cicilline and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, both Democrats from Rhode Island.  This would require super PACs and “dark money” political organizations to make their donors public.
  • Passes the Honest Ads Act, championed by Sens. Klobuchar and Mark Warner (VA), which would require Facebook and Twitter to disclose the source of money for political ads on their platforms and share how much money was spent.  (A Facebook spokesman told Vox the company has publicly supported Honest Ads Act since 2018).
  • Discloses any political spending by government contractors and slows the flow of foreign money into the elections by targeting shell companies.
  • Restructures the Federal Election Commission to have five commissioners instead of six, in order to break political gridlock at the organization.
  • Prohibits any coordination between candidates and super PACs.

Ethics

  • Requires the president and vice president to disclose 10 years of his or her tax returns. Candidates for president and vice president must also do the same.
  • Stops members of Congress from using taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment or discrimination cases.
  • Gives the Office of Government Ethics the power to do more oversight and enforcement and implement stricter lobbying registration requirements. These include more oversight of foreign agents by the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
  • Creates a new ethics code for the US Supreme Court, ensuring all branches of government are impacted by the new law.

Clearly, this is a pro-democracy bill that makes it easier for U.S. citizens to get registered and vote, ends partisan gerrymandering, promotes small donor campaign financing and ends “dark money” by promptly disclosing donations over $10,000.

Sadly, republican lawmakers in 43 states have introduced 253 bills to restrict ballot access, citing the need to assure Americans that elections will no longer be “rigged” — despite the lack of evidence of widespread fraud in 2020.

So, republicans are eager to disparage and mischaracterize what’s in the bill. Here are some of their falsehoods:

  • It uses your tax dollars to support candidates you don’t support. No, it uses criminal and civil fines and settlements with corporations that commit malfeasance.
  • This is a democratic power grab that is anti-republican. Well, yes, it pushes back against GOP voter suppression laws.  Sadly, the GOP is increasingly a minority rule party pushing an agenda dictated by its rich donors in addition to other constituencies: gun enthusiasts, anti-abortion folks and white nationalists.
  • It’s an unconstitutional overreach of states’ rights. This set national standards for registration and voting.  There are national standards for lots of things, and this is necessary to push back against current voter suppression tactics. Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution gives the Congress the power “at any time” to “make or alter” state election regulations.
  • Same day voter registration invites fraud. More than twenty states already have same day registration. Proof of identity and residence are required and there are criminal penalties for fraudulent voting.  Cases of fraud are far and few between.

Republicans in the Senate would happily use the filibuster rule to kill the For the People Act. Democrats call it necessary democracy reform and they can change or eliminate the filibuster rule with a simple majority.  As majority leader, Chuck Schumer said: “Everything is on the table. Failure is not an option.”

Wisconsin United To Amend supports this major democracy reform bill and hopes you will too.  Please educate your family and friends about it and hopefully together we can see it through.  It represents an important step towards our goal of a Constitutional Amendment that would once again allow states and Congress to set legislative limits on campaign spending.

Please come and help save our democracy!

Please join us Tuesday, January 12th, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm for a meeting of South Central Wisconsin United to Amend. The meeting will be held at the Sequoya Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd, Madison (map). This is THE core issue of our time. Please come meet the group and find your niche in this growing democracy movement!

Also, there will be an informal public hearing at the Capitol on January 21st (North Hearing Room on the 2nd floor of the State Capitol, 10 to noon), which is the 6th anniversary of the horrendous Citizens United decision. This hearing will give Wisconsinites a chance to voice their concerns and express support for real solutions that will get money out of politics and our elections. The first speakers will be Rep. Subeck and Sen. Dave Hansen, who have introduced bills (AJR8/SJR12) calling for a statewide referendum on overturning the 2010 Citizens United ruling. Despite overwhelming bipartisan support to reduce the influence of Big Money in politics, this resolution continues to be denied a public hearing; worse yet, the state legislature recently doubled campaign contribution limits and opened the floodgates for unprecedented amounts of secret, special interest spending in Wisconsin’s elections. The public deserves to be heard. This hearing will give Wisconsinites a chance to voice their concerns and express support for real solutions that will get money out of politics and our elections.

And then, that evening, you’re invited to an Unhappy Birthday Party for Citizens United, 6:30 to 9:30 PM, at the Brocach Irish Pub, 7 W. Main St. on Capitol Square in Madison. Sponsored by South Central Wisconsin United To Amend, it’ll feature Mike Crute of The Devil’s Advocates as MC, Mike McCabe of Blue Jean Nation and John Nichols of The Nation magazine as featured speakers, a couple of other notable speakers (still being confirmed), (soft) classic rock by The Sundogs, a cake, a raffle, networking with fellow advocates of democracy, and the kind of wake that the Irish are famous for. We’re hoping that democracy will sit up in its coffin and loudly proclaim “Hey! I’m not dead yet!”

If you have any questions or comments, just reply to this email. Thanks for all you do!

Al Sulzer & Richard Russell Co-Chairs, South Central Wisconsin United To Amend

Meet the group and help stand up for what’s right!

Please join us Tuesday, December 8th, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm for a meeting of South Central Wisconsin United to Amend. The meeting will be held at the Sequoya Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd, Madison (map). This is THE core issue of our time. Please come meet the group and find your niche in this growing democracy movement!

As you may know, three bad government bills are awaiting the Governor’s signature. Despite the fact that 97% of Americans are very concerned about the corruption in our government and want something done about it, the majority of Wisconsin’s politicians continue to ignore their constituents, while attempting to institutionalize their own corrupt behavior. In this onslaught, they have:

  • doubled contribution limits
  • okayed coordination with issue-advocacy groups
  • eliminated disclosure of contributor’s employers
  • eliminated the Government Accountability Board (GAB)
  • eliminated John Doe criminal investigations into political malfeasance

Had enough yet? It’s time to stand up for what’s right!

If you have any questions or comments, just reply to this email. Thanks for all you do!

Al Sulzer & Richard Russell Co-Chairs, South Central Wisconsin Move To Amend

Meet us at Sequoya Library Tuesday Evening!

Please join us Tuesday, November 10th, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm for a meeting of South Central Wisconsin United to Amend. The meeting will be held at the Sequoya Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd, Madison (map). This is THE core issue of our time. Please come meet the group and find your niche in this growing democracy movement!

Please contact your representatives and tell them you want to see this issue put on a statewide ballot and ask that they co-sponsor AJR8 and SJR12. Finally, please send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Click HERE to see some sample letters. Here are a few talking points:

  • The enormous sums of campaign cash is nothing more than legalized bribery.
  • The huge corporations that are corrupting our political system have usurped the rights of natural people leaving citizens with little influence over the future of our country.
  • A recent poll shows that 97% of Americans are very concerned about the corruption in Congress and want something done about it. If lawmakers stand with the rest of Americans, they can get off the fundraising treadmill and regain control over their own political destiny.

If you have any questions or comments, just reply to this email. Thanks for all you do!

Al Sulzer & Richard Russell Co-Chairs, South Central Wisconsin Move To Amend

Meet us at Lakeview Library Tuesday Evening!

Please join us Tuesday, October 27th, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm for a meeting of South Central Wisconsin United to Amend. The meeting will be held at the Lakeview Library, 2845 North Sherman Avenue, Madison (map). This is THE core issue of our time. Please come meet the group and find your niche in this growing democracy movement!

A series of bad-government bills have been introduced into our state legislature, which would enable more and more corruption in Wisconsin. Legalized bribery via campaign donations would be easier than ever. Other proposed bills would gut the GAB, which would aid in avoiding any repercussions for bad behavior. We must stand up and fight for what is right!  Please call, write, email and meet with any and all representatives you possibly can. For some background information, please read articles HERE and HERE.

If you have any questions or comments, just reply to this email. Thanks for all you do!

Al Sulzer & Richard Russell Co-Chairs, South Central Wisconsin Move To Amend

Meet us at Sequoya Library Tuesday Evening!

Please join us Tuesday, October 13th, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm for a meeting of South Central Wisconsin United to Amend. The meeting will be held at the Sequoya Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd, Madison (map). This is THE core issue of our time. Please come meet the group and find your niche in this growing democracy movement!

A series of bad-government bills are being introduced into our state legislature, which would enable more and more corruption in Wisconsin. Legalized bribery via campaign donations would be easier than ever. Other proposed bills would gut the GAB, which would aid in avoiding any repercussions for bad behavior. We must stand up and fight for what is right!  Please call, write, email and meet with any and all representatives you possibly can. For some background information, please read articles HERE and HERE and join us at the press conference described HERE.

If you have any questions or comments, just reply to this email. Thanks for all you do!

Al Sulzer & Richard Russell Co-Chairs, South Central Wisconsin Move To Amend

Please come meet the Madison group this Tuesday

Dear Supporter —

Please join us Tuesday, June 23rd, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm for a meeting of South Central Wisconsin Move to Amend. The meeting will be held at the Sequoya Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd, Madison (map). This is THE core issue of our time and it’s time for all of us to stand up for what’s right. Please come meet the group and find your niche in this growing democracy movement!

Please contact your representatives and tell them you want to see this issue put on a statewide ballot and ask that they co-sponsor AJR8 and SJR12. Finally, please send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Click HERE to see some sample letters. Here are a few talking points:

  • The enormous sums of campaign cash is nothing more than legalized bribery.
  • The huge corporations that are corrupting our political system have usurped the rights of natural people leaving citizens with little influence over the future of our country.
  • A recent poll shows that 97% of Americans are very concerned about the corruption in Congress and want something done about it. If lawmakers stand with the rest of Americans, they can get off the fundraising treadmill and regain control over their own political destiny.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us. Thanks for all you do!

Al Sulzer & Megan Hines
Co-Chairs, South Central Wisconsin Move To Amend

Please Come to our Madison Garage Sale Fundraiser!

Dear Movers,

On Friday, June 5 (8:00 am to 4:00 pm) and Saturday, June 6 (8:00 am to Noon), the South Central Wisconsin Move To Amend group is having a garage sale as a fundraiser. We have a garage full of a great selection of items: exercise bench, bike and kayak carriers, clothing, sports gear, many books, housewares, electronics and more. Priced to sell!

This sale is at 1817 Sheridan Drive (map) on the north side of Madison. From downtown take Sherman Ave going north. At the stop light at Mac Pherson, go left/west all the way to the end which is Sheridan Dr. Go right to the big white tent. That’s us. Doing our part to save democracy, so please stop by and buy! We end at 4 on Friday and noon on Saturday. It would be great to see you there!

Madison Meeting this Tuesday at Sequoya Library

Dear Supporter —

Please join us Tuesday, July 14th, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm for a meeting of South Central Wisconsin Move to Amend. The meeting will be held at the Sequoya Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd, Madison (map). This is THE core issue of our time and it’s time for all of us to stand up for what’s right. Please come meet the group and find your niche in this growing democracy movement!

Please contact your representatives and tell them you want to see this issue put on a statewide ballot and ask that they co-sponsor AJR8 and SJR12. Finally, please send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Click HERE to see some sample letters. Here are a few talking points:

  • The enormous sums of campaign cash is nothing more than legalized bribery.
  • The huge corporations that are corrupting our political system have usurped the rights of natural people leaving citizens with little influence over the future of our country.
  • A recent poll shows that 97% of Americans are very concerned about the corruption in Congress and want something done about it. If lawmakers stand with the rest of Americans, they can get off the fundraising treadmill and regain control over their own political destiny.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us. Thanks for all you do!

Al Sulzer & Richard Russell
Co-Chairs, South Central Wisconsin Move To Amend