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Danielle Lang @DaniLang_DC
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I'm home sick but never too sick to rave about #HR1: a bill to continue our long American project of creating a democracy that represents all of us equally. I'm gonna talk wonky on here for a minute. #ForThePeople
My @CampaignLegal colleagues @DelaneyMarsco @brendan_fischer and others will tell you about the campaign finance and ethic portions (they are big! really big! change our democracy big!). I'm here to talk about the provisions at the heart of our democracy: VOTING.
The bill is 571 pages and it is CHOCKFULL of good ideas (hint, hint, states could adopt a lot of these on their own). #HR1
The voting section starts where it should: a revamp of the National Voter Registration Act. We @CampaignLegal promoted this a while back as an HR priority:…
What does it do? Let's see. It requires every state to allow online registration. Most states already do this (37 plus DC) and where they do, its very popular. For many (although nota all), a system without forms, postage, or leaving the house is the most accessible.
Importantly, it requires that online reg be accessible for ppl with disabilities. It also requires states to create a system for accepting electronic sigs or allowing sigs to be collected at the time of voting.
That's pretty in the weeds but it matters. PA currently require voters to either have a DL or send in a paper signature on a postcard to get registered. Others limit online reg only to those with DLs.That somewhat defeats the point of online reg & causes confusion.
And when you provide an email address with your registration, #HR1 requires that you receive information about your polling place, ID requirements, and hours of your polling place.
But lets move beyond online registration because what's next is even more exciting: AUTOMATIC voter registration. Another reform that has been a success in the states (15 states plus DC have approved it, Oregon was the first in 2015). #HR1
The program will require automatic voter reg through every state DMV but ALSO a slew of other state and federal agencies that collect all the information needed for eligibility to vote (e.g. residence, age, citizenship).
That's SUPER important because as we've learned in the voter ID debate, not everyone has an ID. Indeed millions do not (see @SpreadTheVoteUS). This automatic system will reach millions who do not interact with the DMV.
Some key agencies included: schools, safety net organizations, and criminal justice agencies (prisons, probation/parole). So when you lose your right to vote b/c of a conviction, the agency that restores your right to vote will register you as well! I'm pretty excited about this
The bill isn't just about automatic voter reg going forward either. It will require a one-time transmission of data already in the state's possession (with an opt-out option) to get folks on the rolls ASAP.
This bill isn't slapdash either--it includes a lot of protections for the security and privacy of citizen data.
Another key reform from the states: registration portability! You register and then you move? No problem! You can correct your address at the polling place and vote a regular ballot. Voting doesn't have to be endless red tape to work efficiently and securely.
And when all these other registration reforms fail? There is same day voter registration allowing those who procrastinate among us to participate. I'm sure many of our NY resolutions are to procrastinate less but broken resolutions shouldn't be punished with disenfranchisement.
Heard a lot about voter registration purges this cycle? HR1 tackles that issue as well. It promotes good list maintenance systems like ERIC (thanks @pewtrusts) but puts strict limits on purging based on sloppy data.
And strengthens criminal penalties on interfering with voter registration. Voter suppression is a crime and should be treated that way.
Subtitle B is all about access for individuals w/ disabilities. We need it. There are approx. 35 million eligible voters w/ disabilities but most of our polling places are not fully accessible. Voters w/ disabilities turnout less & often cite accessibility as the reason. Not OK.
I'm not as expert in precise disability issues as I want to be and would love to hear from @MichelleVotes about whether it goes far enough but its a very good start!
I particularly like the idea of requiring each state to have a designated office in charge of all voting accessibility issues for people with disabilities.
And the funding for pilot programs so that we can innovate in the area of voting accessibility!
Do you know what voter caging is? Probably not but it is bad! Basically there are bad actors out there trying to use state procedures to challenge the registration of as many voters as they can.
It's dangerous and too often flies under the radar until people show up at the polls and find themselves not on the rolls.
HR1 says that voter registration eligibility challenges/determinations should be left to state and local election officials unless the person challenging has personal knowledge that a registered voter is ineligible. This just makes good sense.
In the category of stopping bad actors: Remember those stories about misleading voters about the day of the Election or saying you can vote by phone? HR1 also makes it a criminal offense to purposely disseminate false information about voting.
And also requires the Attorney General to take action to actually CORRECT misleading information where it is reported.
It sure would be nice to get more help from elected officials in trying to correct the deluge of incorrect information out there about voting. Right @866OURVOTE?
I've been going in order of the bill text, so sorry if I'm burying the lead but #HR1 lays down a serious marker for reform on rights restoration for people with conviction. It seeks to restore the right to vote of all people with convictions after incarceration. #restoreyourvote
That's millions of eligible voters that live in our communities, pay taxes, & deserve their say in our gov. (I think this would be best passed under Congress' authority under the 14th A & 15th A to correct racial discrim in voting since these laws have a dark Jim Crow past.)
The next section is just as impt. It requires NOTICE to people w/ convictions about their voting rights. Anyone who knows me know this is my hobby horse. @CampaignLegal's helped tens of thousands of ppl with convictions understand their rights this cycle.
The next sections require verified durable, paper, readable records of all our votes. In an age of hacking, this is just plain common sense.
Here's another great but in the weeds section: out-of-precinct provisional ballots. So, you show up to the wrong polling place on Election Day. But you don't have time to go to another polling place b/c his is your lunch break & your only opportunity to get to the polls today.
In many states, you'll be offered a provisional ballot that will NOT COUNT. But under HR1, the state will count your ballot for all the elections you are eligible to vote in despite being in the wrong precinct.
What does that mean? Well your local votes might not count if you should be voting in a different race but your votes in statewide and countywide races (e.g. president, senator, governor) will count.
Man, this bill has so much voting, you are going to be sick of voting. Under HR1, Americans would not just have one day to vote, amen to that.
HR 1 makes Election Day a holiday, which is great, but will only help a limited class of voters whose employers will honor that holiday. That's why its so key that it requires at least two weeks of early voting, including weekends. There is no excuse for limiting voting to 1 day.
AND if in-person voting isn't your thing (I need my sticker), no-excuse vote by mail for all!!!! 📬📬📬 Just ask voters in Oregon, Arizona, California, etc. how vote-by-mail revolutionizes elections.
Believe it or not there is more: revisions to help uniformed voters overseas, poll worker training & recruitment, recusal requirements for chief election officials overseeing their own federal elections (e.g. if Kemp had been running for Senate), polling place change notice, etc.
But I'm getting awfully hangry for lunch. So I'll end with this: It creates a sworn written statement of eligibility safety valve for all voter ID requirements. If you don't have the particular ID a state wants, it has to accept a sworn statement of your eligibility.
Ok I lied. A couple more highlights: postage-free ballots (duh) and a voter information hotline (with input from our friends @866ourvote and others doing this work already.
FINALLY: HR1 affirms the work would not be done with this law. It reaffirms the need to restore the VRA & protect Native American voting rights. These bills will need a larger record to make sure they survive SCOTUS scrutiny (I think felony rights restoration should go here too).
We all know that this bill (at least in its entirety) has an uphill climb to law. But there should be bipartisan support for many of these provisions that are commonsense solutions to a 21st century election infrastructure.
#HR1 is an extraordinary commitment to a better democracy. We should fight every day to make its promises a reality. It can serve as a model for states as well. Here's to a productive 2019 (and lunch!).
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