HR1/S1 - The For The People Act
Trump is gone, but our democracy is on life support. We won the Presidency, the House and the Senate, but GOP and far-right extremists are working hard to stop us with misinformation, voter suppression laws, dark money, and Trump-appointed judges.
The For the People Act, currently in front of Congress as HR1 (in the House) and S1 (in the Senate) addresses all of this with voting rights expansion, campaign finance reform, and ethics reform.
The bill mandates access to vote-by-mail and a minimum number of early voting days for everyone. It requires permanent paper ballots and counting of provisional ballots cast by eligible voters. It ensures deployed military and overseas voters' ballots are mailed at least 45 days in advance, to ensure their votes are counted.
It institutes automatic voter registration and same-day and online registration, and protects against flawed purges of voter rolls. It restores the Voting Rights Act, restores voting rights to people with prior convictions, strengthens vote-by-mail systems, institute nationwide early voting, and protect against deceptive practices.
By making these voting protections federal law, HR1/S1 will override state laws passed to suppress the vote. Voter suppression, as we all know, has been a mainstay of Republican election strategy since before any of us were born.
The bill itself is long and incredibly comprehensive (see a terrific layman’s “explainer” from the Brennan Center here). HR1 was developed by Dems in 2017 as a “signaling” bill - one they knew wouldn’t be passed in 2017 because of Trump and Republican control of the Senate, but “signaled” Dems’ priority when we regained power in 2020. So here we are.
We must help Congress pass HR1/S1. ICG and our sister groups in COIN (Consolidated Oregon Indivisible Network) are joining Indivisibles across the country in putting out repeated calls-to-action to press our Congressperson (Bentz) and Senators (Wyden and Merkley) to support passage of HR1/S1. When you see a call-to-action (like the one above), please hop right on the phone/email to respond!
But why bother contacting them? I already know …
What? You say you already know where our reps stand on this, so it’s no use contacting them? Here’s a different picture, and one that will hopefully help you reconsider that point of view and understand the utility of our calls/emails to them, for this issue and most others.
Yes, Senators Merkley and Wyden are reliable progressives, and have even said they will support S1. But each of them has also said repeatedly that hearing from us constituents about issues is how they prioritize how to spend their time, energy, and political capital. So YES, they’re going to support S1, but YES, they want to and need to hear from all of us that this is what we think is important for them to devote themselves to.
Yes, Rep. Bentz appears to be every bit as party-driven as Walden was, maybe even more so, and therefore highly unlikely to either listen to us or to support a voting rights act like HR1. But he needs to hear from us loud and clear on issues - X is important to us; we want you to do Y. This notification/request then becomes the basis of our holding him accountable. No info/requests from us, then no accountability. So YES, you’re likely right that he won’t be swayed by our message to support HR1, but YES, he needs to hear it so we can hold him accountable publicly and especially next year when he’ll be campaigning again.
Supporting Youth Activists
ICG is making support of youth activist activities a priority. Many local middle school and high school youth pitched in like champs volunteering for various aspects of the 2020 election - letter-writing, candidate support, driving, copying, shuffling papers. Many of them were introduced to political activism and encouraged by their parents who are ICG members, and some got the advocacy bug in school clubs.
For years there have been various “clubs” at HRVHS, some more oriented to recreation, and some oriented to issue advocacy like climate change and support for girls’ education in developing countries. A new club this year is HRV Demands Action for Gun Safety, which is sponsoring the rally on March 4. The leaders are informed and dedicated and working to raise awareness of gun violence in the community. These young people are our future. ICG is honored to be able to work with them, sharing resources and amplifying each other’s advocacy efforts. Please join in attending their events, cheerleading for them and supporting their work.