Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

March 15: H.R. 1

This coming Monday, we’ll discuss H.R. 1/S. 1, which focuses on voting rights. As is often the case, Wikipedia has a pretty good “Cliff Notes” summary of the bill.

From my perspective, there’s a lot of “good stuff” in the bill. But it does raise some issues that we can discuss. For example:

  • Early voting: How early is too early? In Maine, at least, early votes cannot be changed, no matter what the reason. So the electorate may not be able to respond to “late-breaking news”–positive or negative.
  • Citizens United: When we’ve discussed Citizens United in the past, we’ve often come to the conclusion that the “issue” is really about “big money” in political speech. Yes, some corporations and unions have substantial resources and use those resources to influence elections. But what about wealthy individuals? We’ve had lots of discussions–inconclusive, in my opinion–about where to draw the line.
  • Voluntary public campaign financing: Some of the “big money” advantage in elections would be diluted by a 6:1 match for small donations. Maybe someone will delve into the details enough to know whether this would actually make a difference or whether it will track Maine’s spotty experience with the concept. And, of course, this feature only applies to contributions to political campaigns (?), not to PAC-type political speech.
  • Statehood for the District of Columbia: Continues to express support for DC statehood, and identifies Congressional authority to admit the District as the 51st state.
  • Anti-gerrymandering: The Wikipedia version, at least, suggests that state redistricting commissions must include five members of the majority party, five members of the minority party, and five members of neither party. While the overall mechanism seems fairly reasonable (maybe others will spot faults), do we really want to perpetuate and concentrate power in the hands of the two largest political parties?

Am I missing something? Add a comment to this post.

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