Letter: What does the Freedom to Vote Act mean to you? | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: What does the Freedom to Vote Act mean to you?

In July 2006, Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act. The Senate voted 98-0 to reauthorize the legislation. It was initially passed in 1965, during the height of the Civil Rights movement, to prohibit racial discrimination in voting.

It was reauthorized in 1970, 1975 and 1982. Every time, the vote in Congress was overwhelmingly bipartisan and then signed into law by the Republican and Democrat president at that time.

In fact, there are 16 Republicans in the Senate right now who were in Congress (House or Senate) in 2006 and supported the Voting Rights Act. Please review a brief overview of the Freedom to Vote Act.

Expanded opportunities to vote: Early in-person voting periods for at least two weeks prior to Election Day; mail-in voting with no need for an excuse to vote by mail for every eligible voter; Election Day holiday; protections for individuals with disabilities; and a national validation identification requirement for in-person voting, allowing for the use of a wide range of forms of identification.

Preventing voter suppression: Cracking down on the dissemination of false and misleading information on voting requirements; voting rights restoration to formerly incarcerated citizens upon their release; and preventing long lines and related discriminatory practices to vote.

Redistricting reform: Banning partisan gerrymandering and establishing clear, neutral standards; and ensuring greater transparency in the redistricting process with public redistricting commissions.

Preventing election sabotage: Restricting the politically motivated removal of election officials; enhanced protections of ballots and records; and preventing politically motivated failure to certify election results by states.

Modernizing voter registration: Automatic voter registration will be the national standard; online voter registration; and protections against unlawful voter purges.

Campaign finance reform: Small donor matching system for elections to the House of Representatives for states that opt in; shoring up campaign transparency rules to address the phenomenon of “dark money” from undisclosed sources in federal elections; fixing enforcement at the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission; and ensuring that super political action committees are truly independent.

Promoting election security: Requiring post election audits to follow clearly defined election rules and procedures; and requiring paper records and other election infrastructure improvements to backup electronic voting records.

We are talking about a basic tenet that is the bedrock of our country in maintaining and fulfilling the aspirations of our democracy. Ask Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet at senator_bennet@bennet.senate.gov and John Hickenlooper at senator_hickenlooper@hickenlooper.senate.gov to support this act.

John Spezia

Steamboat Springs

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