In 2012, candidates and outside groups spent $6 billion on the Presidential election alone. This is unacceptable and I believe this Congress must enact comprehensive campaign finance reform. Furthermore, we must overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and, if necessary, I will support a Constitutional Amendment to do so.
Corporations and so-called “issue/advocacy” groups are using the Supreme Court’s interpretation of free speech to exert undue influence. Everyday voters do not have the resources or organizing power that certain companies and groups have. That is why I have cosponsored bills to prohibit issue/advocacy groups from interfering with political campaigns and reform the way companies spend money on politics, requiring more transparency and accountability. The health of our democracy may be in serious jeopardy if we do not reduce the influence of money.
The right to vote is a critical component of American democracy. However, many Americans, including the elderly, new voters, the disabled, and minorities, are facing new state laws that make it harder for them to participate in this fundamental American right.
Proponents of voter ID laws, which require voters to present a government issued photo ID, claim they are designed to reduce voter fraud. These laws are nothing but artificial excuses to disenfranchise certain voting populations.
Between 2000 and 2010, 649 million votes were cast in general elections, yet there were just 13 credible cases of in-person voter impersonation. As a result of voter ID laws, however, in 2008, 2.2 million registered voters did not vote because they didn’t have proper ID, and most of them were minorities, of lower socio-economic status, seniors, or young voters.
That is why I support the Voter Empowerment Act, a comprehensive voting rights bill intended to modernize our voter registration system, reduce long lines at polling places, and ensure equal access to the ballot box for all Americans. I am also a firm supporter of H.J.Res 44, the Pocan-Ellison Right to Vote Amendment, which would amend the United States Constitution explicitly guarantees our citizens the right to vote.
The Supreme Court’s decision to strip a crucial element of the Voting Rights Act, preclearance requirements, could seriously undermine the ability of millions of Americans to participate in the political process. I believe we should be making the act of casting a ballot easier, not harder. Congress owes it to American citizens to acknowledge the gravity of this issue. Voting is a fundamental right and I will work hard in Congress to eliminate existing barriers.
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