What is the Freedom to Vote Act?
The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act is a bill to increase equitable access, transparency, and accountability in American elections. The purpose of the Freedom to Vote Act is to make it easier to vote, harder to cheat, and help restore trust in our democratic system.
The Freedom to Vote Act is highly popular among a majority of Americans (both Republicans and Democrats). In fact, 70% of Americans support the bill.
What is happening with the Freedom to Vote Act?
Despite its popularity, Republicans have repeatedly used the filibuster to prevent the Senate from even debating the Freedom to Vote Act.
The Senate majority has tried 5 times over 7 months to consider these bills, but Republicans have used the secret filibuster to prevent an open debate on the bill’s merits.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was finally able to bring the Freedom to Vote Act to the floor by leveraging established Senate rules. At that point, Republicans once again deployed the filibuster to prevent the Senate from voting on the bill. Subsequent attempts to reform the filibuster by returning it to its original form of a talking filibuster, and allow the bill to come up for a vote, were blocked by 52 Senators, including every Senate Republican and 2 Democrats.
If not for this action, the Freedom to Vote Act would have passed with every Democratic Senator's support . Without filibuster reform, the Senate Minority can continue to use the secret filibuster to block any piece of legislation that has majority support, like the Freedom to Vote Act. That's why many organizations are leading efforts to ensure that legislation that is supported by the majority of Americans has a fair chance in Congress.
The Freedom to Vote Act will:
Make sure all working Americans have time to vote by:
Making Election Day a federal holiday.
Extending voting hours to include weekends and evening hours.
Reducing long lines from high-demand at polling places on Election Day by guaranteeing a minimum of 15 days of early voting, requiring equitable distribution of polling locations, and protecting rural polling locations.
Make sure all eligible American citizens can vote:
Guaranteeing vote-by-mail (free of any postage charge!). This will be especially important for the elderly, disabled, and front-line workers who have no choice but to work on election day.
Creating automatic voter registration and allowing all voters who are registered to receive an absentee ballot.
Allowing same-day voter registration for American citizens with proper identification. Lying about voter identity will be a felony.
Increase the transparency and integrity of our elections, including by:
Creating nationwide voter ID standards to validate every voter’s identity.
Ensuring every ballot has a paper trail, and every voter can track their mail-in ballot to make sure it was counted correctly.
Funding strong, state-run audits to protect democracy and election integrity and empower states to improve election oversight.
Requiring every voting machine to be made in America.
Ensuring voter rolls are updated on a reliable schedule to remove voters who have moved, died, or changed their name.
Why does having an open debate matter?
Our democracy flourishes when every voice is heard and ideas are shared and debated in the open.
By bringing the bill to the floor, we are allowing for an open discussion on one of our most fundamental rights—the freedom to vote. And we are requiring our Senators to put their votes behind their principles and increase government transparency, helping restore trust in our democracy.
How the Freedom to Vote Act Will Strengthen Democracy
The Freedom to Vote Act is written with American democracy’s best interests in mind. It is designed to create strong federal guidelines to improve election integrity and transparency at the state level.
The Freedom to Vote Act does not undermine state authority over elections; instead, it ensures all states are abiding by minimal standards around election integrity and all American citizens have equal access to vote, as guaranteed by the Constitution.
The Freedom to Vote Act works in Americans’ favor by making it easier to vote, no matter where they live or what they do for work.