How the Democrats propose to expand voting and change election law

People at voting booths.
Voters cast their ballots at the Dilworth Community Center in Dilworth, Minn., on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.
Ann Arbor Miller for MPR News file 2020

In early March, the Democratically controlled U.S. House passed an expansive voting reform bill. Called the For the People Act, it would make major changes to laws that govern campaigns and voting.

It has little hope of passing the split Senate, thanks to the filibuster. But that hasn’t stopped both sides from crying foul.

Republicans have attacked the bill — also known as HR1 in its House form and S1 in the Senate — as a partisan power grab that will damage democracy. Democrats argue the bill is the only way to preserve democracy in the face of widespread Republican efforts to restrict voting access and spread disinformation claiming that voter fraud cost former President Donald Trump the 2020 election. 

The bill is massive — more than 800 pages. So Monday, MPR News host Kerri Miller dove in, with the help of two guests who are experts in voter rights, and examined what it really does. Will this proposal federalize elections and take too much power away from the states? Or is an overhaul necessary to stop some states from suppressing the vote?

Guests:

  • Marcia Johnson-Blanco is the co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  

  • Ari Berman is a journalist and author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.”

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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