Hearing Today In U.S. House on Bill to Increase Voting Rights

by Suzanne Potter, Nevada News Service

Nevada recently passed an initiative to make voter registration an "opt-out" versus an "opt-in" system, where people are automatically registered to vote unless they specifically decline. (Roibu/iStockphoto)

Carson City – The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing today on the “For the People Act,” the first bill introduced by Democrats since they took control of the House of Representatives.

Hear an audio report from Suzanne Potter …

House Resolution 1 would make it a lot easier to vote by removing a number of state-level restrictions. Leigh Chapman, director of the voting rights program at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said this is a true democracy-reform bill.

“So the bill would make Election Day a holiday and create nationwide automatic voter registration, which could actually get 50 million more voters on the rolls,” Chapman said. “It would also have provisions restoring the right to vote for people with felony convictions, and that would get 6.1 million more voters on the rolls.”

The bill also would try to limit the dominance of big money in politics by strengthening disclosure requirements.

Multiple states take a “use it or lose it” approach, purging inactive voters from rolls, something HR 1 would prohibit. In November Nevadans passed a ballot initiative requiring the state to register people automatically when they go to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

HR 1 would set a national standard of two weeks early voting, as well as weekend and evening voting. Chapman noted a number of red-state legislatures have passed laws to restrict voting in recent years.

“Opponents of democracy have really worked to silence the voices of Americans by voter-registration restrictions, strict voter ID laws and purges of the voter rolls,” she said.

HR 1 is expected to pass the House easily, but it may not get a vote in the Senate because Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sees it as a partisan move, even calling it the “Democrat Politician Protection Act.”