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Protect Democracy Applauds Senators Upon Introduction of the Freedom to Vote Act

New Senate compromise bill will set basic national standards ensuring free, fair, and accessible elections for all Americans

Washington, DCProtect Democracy applauds Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) for introducing the Freedom to Vote Act, compromise legislation that would help ensure free and fair elections across our country. 

In reaction to the bill’s introduction, Jessica Marsden, counsel with Protect Democracy, released the following statement:

“Today we applaud members of the Senate who have worked to find common ground to protect Americans’ fundamental right to vote and curtail election subversion. This bill pushes back on state legislatures who are systematically undermining the basic principle that voters, not politicians, should decide election outcomes. Americans overwhelmingly support federal legislation that would secure ballots, combat voter intimidation, and protect election results from partisan interference. It’s time for the rest of the Senate to listen to the American people and pass these common-sense reforms to safeguard our elections from partisan actors who appear willing to subvert the will of the people.” 

Notably, the bill includes several components that are vital to protecting against the partisan subversion of our elections. These subversion efforts include more than 200 bills introduced across nearly every state that enable partisan interference with election administration, as documented in A Democracy Crisis in the Making, a recent report from Protect Democracy, States United Democracy Center, and Law Forward.

The Freedom to Vote Act responds to overwhelming, bipartisan voter support for legislation to secure ballots, combat voter intimidation, and protect election results from partisan interference. A recent poll by Protect Democracy and Secure Democracy found that “84% of voters nationwide would support a new federal law to ensure every eligible citizen’s right to have their ballot counted and included in the totals of votes, and 85% of voters would support a law to ensure that officials cannot influence election procedures to benefit a particular candidate or political party.”

A few notable highlights from the Freedom to Vote legislation: 

Protecting Election Administration from Interference and Preventing Election Subversion

We are pleased to see text from the Protecting Election Administration from Interference Act (S. 2626, H.R. 5053) and the Preventing Election Subversion Act (S. 2155, H.R. 4064) included in this new bill. These proposals, originally introduced in the Senate by Senators Klobuchar and Warnock, and in the House by Representatives Colin Allred and John Sarbanes, provide a critical bulwark against potential election subversion and an important step towards ensuring that American voters can have confidence that their elections will be administered fairly, transparently, and free from partisan interference.

To learn more about the Protecting Election Administration from Interference Act, click here. To learn more about the Preventing Election Subversion Act, click here. To learn more about how the Freedom to Vote Act stops election subversion, click here.

Providing for Meaning Judicial Review of Burdens on Voting

We are also pleased to see the text from the Right to Vote Act (S. 2615/H.R. 4959) is included in the bill. This proposal would create a statutory right to vote in federal elections and require courts to apply heightened scrutiny to laws, policies, or other government actions that burden that right—particularly when a government takes steps that make it harder to cast a ballot or have that ballot counted.  This bill would address gaps in the existing constitutional framework in which courts rarely consider burdens on the ability to vote to be severe enough to merit close scrutiny.

To learn more about the Right to Vote Act, click here

Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation

We applaud the inclusion of S.1840 the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, which would help ensure that elections are free and fair by prohibiting underhanded and discriminatory attempts to deprive citizens of their vote through deception about the time, place, eligibility, or procedures of a federal election. This legislation would also strengthen protections against deception and intimidation that would prevent people from registering to vote or casting their vote. Protect Democracy joined a broad group of advocates and organizations in a letter of support for this bill earlier this year.