Senate Bill 1, named the For the People Act, will come to a vote in the U.S. Senate this month. It was resoundingly approved by the House earlier this year. It deserves the support of Missouri’s two senators, Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley.
This bill is the product of broad bipartisan support among the citizens of this country. The bill has been around for a long time, and the contents of this bill are indicative of, until recently, bipartisan support of members of both parties in our federal legislative branch — rightly so, as the bill, among many things, makes it easier to vote regardless of political party. So it benefits all political parties to adopt it.
This historic legislation will:
• Make it easier to vote in federal elections by modernizing voter registration, and the bill provides financial support to states to do so.
• Establish uniform rules that all states will follow when drawing congressional districts, effectively reinstating the heart of the Missouri Constitution’s Amendment 2, which voters passed in 2018.
• Overhaul federal campaign finance laws by shedding a bright light on dark money.
• Increase safeguards against foreign interference.
• Strengthen government ethics rules.
• Provide for automatic voter registration for federal elections, unless the voter opts out, adding up to 50 million new eligible voters to the rolls.
• Legitimize same-day registration, or SDR, for federal elections. By ensuring that all eligible voters who go to the polls can participate in an election, SDR helps safeguard against registration system errors, cyberattacks and wrongful purges. As of 2020, 21 states and the District of Columbia had enacted SDR. It’s time to extend SDR to the rest of us, especially those of us who live in rural areas, who work during regular business hours, who don’t have a computer or who find it otherwise difficult to register ahead of time because of distance or a disability.
S.B. 1 should be supported because it addresses a foundational pillar of democracy: the right to vote. In order for our democracy to work, we need an engaged citizenry and transparency in our electoral processes. We need to make it easier for eligible people to vote, not harder. Without this, to paraphrase the words of Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, we do not have government “of, by and for the people.” We have government “of, by and for the powerful.”