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Congressman introduces election reform bill

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Improving ballot access is the focus of new legislation introduced by a Maine congressman.

The Freedom to Vote Act has been introduced by U.S. Sen. Angus King Jr., I-Maine.

The legislation, if enacted, would set basic national standards regarding voting rights.

“Any threat to the democratic process is a threat to our democracy itself,” King said in a statement. “In the face of state-level threats that undercut the fundamental right to vote for millions of Americans, we must act to protect our democracy. The Freedom to Vote Act sets commonsense minimum standards to ensure that no state infringes upon its citizens’ right to vote and confronts widespread anti-democratic practices such as partisan gerrymandering and dark money spending.

“Free, fair, and open elections are the backbone of our national commitment to government of the people, by the people, and for the people – and through this legislation, we will do our part to pass this experiment in self-government on to the next generation of Americans.”

According to a release, the bill reflects feedback collected from state and local election officials, including Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellow, in a manner that would ensure local officials directly responsible for implementing the reforms under the bill can do so effectively.

The bill has drawn support from Common Cause, a national solutions-oriented voter rights organization.

“Americans expect and deserve a democracy where every one of us has an equal say in the future for our family and community, regardless of our political party, background, or ZIP code,” Marilyn Carpinteyro, Common Cause interim co-president, said in a statement. “The Freedom to Vote Act will help ensure that ‘We the People’ determine the course of the nation instead of the billionaires, special interests, and politicians who are pushing legislation to put up barriers to voting and silence the voices of everyday Americans.”

If enacted, the law would be automatic and online voter registration, make Election Day a public holiday, ensure uniform early voting, and same-day voter registration. According to a release, it would also establish federal minimum standards on vote by mail and drop boxes.

According to a release, the bill would also prevent state election subversion by establishing federal protections and protecting election records, infrastructure, and tabulation.

The bill would also establish nonpartisan redistricting reform and ban gerrymandering by requiring states to follow a specific set of criteria for congressional redistricting. It would also provide for judicial remedies for states’ failure to comply.

The legislation would also require super PACs and other groups spending money in elections to disclose donors while shutting down the practice of transferring funding between organizations to cloak contributors’ identities.

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