Senate Gets Landmark Voting Legislation, But Partisanship Poses Steep Challenges
A House-passed package overhauling voting, improving election security and reforming campaign finance laws is now in the Senate, where deep partisan divisions spell an uncertain fate for the landmark bill. H.R. 1, also known as the For the People Act of 2021, is sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Towson, and co-sponsored by every House Democrat. The measure passed the House March 3 on a 220-210 party-line vote. Sarbanes wrote in a letter on his website that H.R. 1 was “a once-in-a-generation reform effort to protect and expand the right to vote, clean up corruption in Washington and restore trust, transparency and integrity in government.” “Marylanders and Americans of all political stripes are demanding real change and accountability from their elected officials,” the congressman said. “People are deeply frustrated by the state of our political system – where voter suppression, extreme partisan gerrymandering and big, dark, special-interest money drown out the voices of ordinary Americans.” Sarbanes’s bill focuses on three major areas: setting federal standards to make it easier to register to vote and to cast a ballot, expanding public financing of congressional campaigns and requiring greater transparency on donors, and increasing accountability for public officials.