The For the People Act (colloquially known by its very official name, H.R. 1) passed the House on a predictable near-party line vote. To the right, H.R. 1 represents an attack on electoral integrity on the part of a Democratic-led federal government. To the left, the bill represents a response to an attack on electoral integrity on the part of a number of Republican-led state governments.
To learn about the good, the not so good, and the meh of this bill, I invited election expert and hyperbole crushing queen, Genya Coulter (a.k.a. @ElectionBabe), back on YDHTY to discuss.
The bill, originally introduced in 2019, was resurrected in this legislative session as lawmakers in Republican majority states introduced legislation that critics argue would make it more difficult for your average citizen to vote.
In this sense, H.R. 1 runs counter to this initiative, with provisions to make it easier for the disabled and others who can’t make it to the polls to vote, as well as for native people living on reservations. The bill also includes federal standards for ballot drop boxes which, in theory, should address Republican concerns that they could be used as vehicles for election fraud.
Republican criticism isn’t entirely without merit, however. The bill mandates 15 days early voting, which would be unnecessarily expensive for rural districts that lack the population or the demand for this to be useful. Its provision on same-day voter registration would be problematic in states such as Florida, where many people reside in the state for part of the year and could potentially be registered in another state.
Some of the more questionable parts of the bill highlight the need for compromise and collaboration to enact effective federal policy. In theory, the Senate would be able to address the legitimate concerns of rural regions on some of the provisions that disadvantage them, and come up with a bill that includes enough of the good parts to have an impact.
In today’s era of nationalized politics and partisan media silos, the bill becomes another political football where a segment of the electorate will be harmed no matter what happens.