Strengthening democracy and ensuring voting rights

Voters cast their ballot in the midterm elections at the Brooklyn Museum polling station in New York City on November 6, 2018. - Americans started voting Tuesday in critical midterm elections that mark the first major voter test of Donald Trump's presidency, with control of Congress at stake. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)

In the last session of Congress, the Republican House made House Resolution 1 their budget and reconciliation bill created to allow them to jam Obamacare repeal through the Senate on a simple majority vote. Which failed. In contrast, the incoming House Democrats have reserved that special designation, H.R. 1 for reclaiming our democratic republic, starting with establishing automatic voter registration and restoring the Voting Rights Act.

“It’s three very basic things that I think the public wants to see,” said Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), making voting easier, closing government ethics loopholes, and reducing the influence of money in politics. Sarbanes, who leads campaign finance and government ethics efforts for the House Democratic Caucus, says the bill “demonstrate that we hear that message loud and clear.”

In addition to automatic voter registration, it would take redistricting power away from state legislatures in favor of independent commissions. It would include provisions to require more campaign finance disclosure and create a public financing match to encourage small contributions. It would close the loophole that exempts the president from the ban on conflicts of interest and require presidential candidates release their tax returns to public scrutiny.

“The path back to having the public trust government and politics is a long one, but we have to start someplace,” Sarbanes said. This is a very good start. We’ve got the most unethical president in recent memory (yes, worse than Nixon) and a Senate Majority Leader in Mitch McConnell who is intent on destroying the institution. This is a smart place for Democrats to attack.

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