On March 24, 2021, Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, testified before the Senate Committee On Rules & Administration on S. 1, the For the People Act, landmark legislation to repair and revitalize our democracy.
The For the People Act would be the most significant democracy reform bill in at least a half century and would markedly improve our system of self-government. It would set national standards to ensure that all eligible citizens can cast a ballot — guaranteeing access to vote by mail and early voting and extending automatic voter registration nationwide. It would ban partisan gerrymandering and set clear rules for the drawing of congressional districts. It would curb the corrosive role of big money in politics, require disclosure and enforcement, and enact a system of voluntary small donor matching funds. It would strengthen rules to ensure ethical conduct by executive and judicial branch officials. And it would restore the right to vote for people with past criminal convictions and commit to strengthening the Voting Rights Act.
Each of these bold reforms meets an urgent need at a time of crisis for our democracy. Each has been found to work at the national, state, or local level. And as state legislatures across the country seek to enact policies to restrict the vote, an assault that targets people of color, the stakes could not be higher. The For the People Act is the next great civil rights bill. It is a direct response to the call for racial justice and for a better democracy. It must become law.