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Senate Democrats unveil new election reform bill, Freedom to Vote Act

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections and campaign finance law, joined with her colleagues to introduce the Freedom to Vote Act, legislation to improve access to the ballot for Americans, advance commonsense election integrity reforms, and protect our democracy from relentless attacks.

The bill includes many of the crucial reforms in previous democracy reform legislation led by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Klobuchar.

“The freedom to vote is fundamental to all of our freedoms. Following the 2020 elections in which more Americans voted than ever before, we have seen unprecedented attacks on our democracy in states across the country. These attacks demand an immediate federal response,” said Klobuchar.

“With the Freedom to Vote Act, the entire voting rights working group, including Senators Manchin and Merkley, is united behind legislation that will set basic national standards to make sure all Americans can cast their ballots in the way that works best for them, regardless of what zip code they live in. This bill will ensure Americans can request a mail-in ballot, have at least 15 days of early voting, and can register to vote on Election Day,” Klobuchar added.

Unlike the For the People Act, this proposal comes with the backing of key Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who was the lone member of the Democratic caucus to oppose the exhaustive election reform bill.

As elected officials, we also have an obligation to restore peoples’ faith in our Democracy, and I believe that the commonsense provisions in this bill – like flexible voter ID requirements – will do just that,” said Manchin.

The bill would:

  • Make Election Day a federal holiday
  • Create a national standard for states that require voter identification
  • Ensure at least 15 days of early voting, including two weekends
  • Create new automatic voter registration systems, mandate same-day voter registration
  • Overhaul Congressional redistricting
  • Bolster voting system security
  • Mandate donor disclosure

Other Democratic lawmakers to back the bill included Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., one of the most staunch proponents of voting rights in the chamber, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.

Despite the expected universal support from the chamber’s 50 Democratic members, the bill is unlikely to receive the backing of Republicans, all but dooming the bill’s prospects thanks to the chamber’s 60-vote filibuster threshold.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday that he intends to hold a vote “as soon as next week” on the bill.

 

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