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ENSURING FAIR ELECTIONS HELPS ENSURE DEMOCRACY

USRENEW NEWS EDITORIAL | By: Ron Israel, Managing Editor | July 26, 2021

Header photo taken from: Center for American Progress

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The United States of America was intended by our founders to be a democratic republic. Our Declaration of Independence enshrines our commitment to the core values of equality, freedom, and self-government. As Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg address, we are a government “of the people, for the people, and by the people.” Those who govern America are accountable to the citizens they serve. This accountability gets renewed on a regular basis through an election system that is intended to be fair and transparent, with all citizens being given the opportunity to vote.

Over the past decade our electoral system has come under attack, first by Supreme Court decisions that diminished the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and by a recent series of state level voting laws that are  targeted at placing restrictions on minority voting rights ; second by  the increasing use of state-level partisan gerrymandering to reapportion the way Congressional seats are chosen,  third   through a decision by the Supreme Court that allows corporations to make election contributions and allow  unlimited special amounts of money to be spent , thereby favoring candidates supported and tethered to  interests; and fourth by continued reliance on the outdated, undemocratic  use of an electoral college system for determining the outcome presidential elections.

The Biden administration urgently needs to take steps to address these threats to our election system that in turn threaten to weaken our democracy. USRENEW NEWS views the need to restore the equity and fairness of our voting system as more important than any other issue on President Biden’s agenda. We recommend that the administration put its utmost energies into passage of the following electoral reforms.

1.) Pass Federal voting rights legislation that ensures voting rights and easy access to the ballot box for all

First and foremost, this means passage of the For The People Voting Rights Bill (HR 1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act now before Congress.  The For the People Bill would  expand voting rights, change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, ban partisan gerrymandering, and create new ethics rules for federal officeholders. 

Photo taken from: Brennan Center for Justice

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement would restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act back to its original and full power which would prevent future discriminatory bills from being passed. The passage of these 2 bills will pre-empt ongoing Republican backed efforts to pass state level bills that severely restrict voting rights, especially for minorities, the disabled and young people.

Photo taken from: Center for American Progress

2) Support efforts to establish state level non-partisan independent commissions responsible for re-districting.

The success of such commissions is largely dependent on their structure and i internal system of checks and balances. Carefully designing a commission to promote core values like independence, inclusivity, good-faith negotiation, and transparency is critical to fair redistricting that guards against partisan and racial gerrymandering.

Currently, 21 U.S. states have some form of non-partisan or bipartisan redistricting commission. Of these 21 states, 13 use redistricting commissions to exclusively draw electoral district boundaries. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that redistricting commissions, whose redistricting commission process is independent of the state legislature, were constitutional.

Learn more at https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/policy-solutions/better-way-draw-districts

3) Initiate a legal challenge to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

The idea is that a city or state can create a law cracking down on some of the big-money election tactics that have become commonplace, expecting that that law will then be challenged. Once challenged, the fight will advance through the court system and advocates hope, ultimately reach the Supreme Court.

At that point, the court will have the opportunity to reconsider the legal framework of the Citizens’ United case.

Photo taken from: Common Dreams

It also should be noted that a provision of the For the People Act-see # 1—above—calls for public financing of elections and support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United Decision.

Learn more at www.defendourdemocracy.org.

4) Support the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact aimed at deciding presidential elections by popular vote.

The Compact will guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact will go into effect when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538).

So far, The National Popular Vote Compact has been endorsed by 16 jurisdictions possessing 195 electoral votes, including 4 small states (DE, HI, RI, VT), 8 medium-sized states (CO, CT, MD, MA, NJ, NM, OR, WA), 3 big states (CA, IL, NY), and the District of Columbia. The bill will take effect when enacted by states with 75 more electoral votes.  

Learn more at www.nationalpopularvote.com

Learn more at www.defendourdemocracy.org.

Photo taken from: Fairvote

Implementing these electoral reform proposals pose a challenge for the Biden administration, given our current highly charged political atmosphere. But it is a challenge well worth taking on if we are to preserve the democratic values and principles upon which our country and government stand.

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