Week in Review 3-9-2019
The Meuller report released this week did not conclude that Russians altered the actual vote count in the 2016 election. But the investigation did raise serious concerns about a key component of our democracy - the integrity of the voting process.
"Americans feel left out and locked out of their own democracy," said Rep. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), the lead author of HR1 - For the People Act. "HR1 seeks to strengthen American democracy and return political power to the people with citizen-owned elections," he said.
This was the first piece of legislation the new Congress introduced. It is a comprehensive bill to guarantee that our election process is fairer, more accessible, and transparent. It passed in the House, but its fate is uncertain in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to take action.
Russia's attempts to influence our elections underscores just how precious - and fragile - is our right to vote. But the U.S. lags behind most developed countries in voting. Our 2018 voter turnout was only 47 percent compared to Israel, which saw 76 percent of its population vote in their last election.
Voter suppression and a myriad of difficult voting registration laws make it extremely challenging, and often impossible, for citizens to exercise their Constitutional right to register and vote.
A key component to HR1 will create automatic voter registration (AVR) across the country. Policies that make voting easier would also make American democracy more representative and less likely to favor special interests. In the end, we will get a more diverse voting population - something that may not favor the GOP.
AVR has been implemented already in 15 states and has shown great success. In Oregon, 94 percent of people who interacted with the state's department of motor vehicles and were eligible to vote were registered in the first year after the AVR program was implemented; and 44 percent of those registered actually voted. In New York, where they have one of the lowest voting rates in the country, 1.5 million eligible voters could become new voters with AVR.
Attempts to tamper with our elections may increase, but your vote is the best safeguard we have to protect our democracy. At a time when our nation's institutions and core values feel tested, enabling more people to vote will protect our future. Elections matter, but only if people are register to vote and cast their ballots in every election. Our voice is our vote. Use it loudly and VOTE. Elections do matter.
What You Can Do:
Call Sen. McConnell's office and urge him to bring HR1 to a vote in the Senate. 202.224.2541 - Washington, DC
502.582.6304 - Louisville, KY
859.224.8286 - Lexington, KY
Sources: The New York Times, www.AMNY.com