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H.R. 1: These Reforms Would Strengthen Our Democracy

On Capitol Hill, Brennan Center’s Weiser advocated for automatic voter registration, small-donor public financing, and restoring the Voting Rights Act.

February 15, 2019

With the conversation building in Washington around a historic voting rights and anti-corruption bill, the Brennan Center’s Wendy Weiser urged members of Congress on Thursday to prioritize reforming the country’s systems of democracy.

Weiser, the director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, testified in a hearing on H.R. 1, or the For the People Act, held by the Committee on House Administration. The sweeping legislation, which was first introduced on January 3, includes reforms that focus on voter registration modernization, election security, and campaign finance reform, among other issues.

The Brennan Center has long advocated for, and in many cases helped innovate, many of the reforms outlined in H.R. 1.  “Perhaps more than ever, Americans understand the problems facing our democracy,” said Weiser. “They are hungry for bold and effective solutions to those problems — like those in H.R. 1 — and real action on those solutions.”

Weiser submitted written testimony in support of the Act in advance of Thursday’s hearing.  In her comments on Thursday, she highlighted three of the reforms outlined in H.R. 1:

  • Restoring the Voting Rights Act, a landmark civil rights law that was hobbled by the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County decision;  
  • Automatic voter registration (AVR), which would streamline how Americans register to vote — and could add up to 50 million new voters to the rolls; and
  • Small-donor public financing, which would amplify the voices of ordinary voters by providing public funds to match small donors. 

Thursday marked the latest in a series of hearings on H.R. 1, which have focused on elements of the bill ranging from presidential ethics to election security. The bill marks the first time in decades that either major political party has made comprehensive reform of the systems of democracy a central priority.

(Image: Mark Wilson/Getty)