The For the People Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives (HR1) and was introduced in the Senate in March. The League of Women Voters of Iowa strongly believes that this act is needed to protect voting rights in Iowa. The For the People Act will improve and modernize our elections and put power back into the hands of the American people.
The For the People Act is a bold, transformative set of reforms that will strengthen our democracy. It will restore voting rights to felons, limit gerrymandering and help with campaign finance reform.
In Iowa we have 52,000 citizens who are unable to participate in elections because of felony convictions. Iowa and Kentucky are presently the only two states with such restrictions since Florida’s citizens recently voted to restore voting rights for felons. Once an ex-felon has served their sentence, there is no good reason why that right should not be restored. Indeed, restoration of voting rights is credited with reducing recidivism and promoting public safety.
Currently, in many states gerrymandering is used to create districts with an unfair advantage for one political party. The state of Iowa’s method of redistricting, in which the lines are drawn by the Legislative Services Agency and approved by the state Legislature, is considered a model for how to create congressional and state legislative districts. The For the People Act would make sure that such a type of fair process is used in all states.
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Campaign finance reform is a concern for Iowans as well as all political parties. Not only would the For the People Act introduce voluntary public financing for all campaigns, matching small donations at a 6:1 ratio, it would set stricter limits on foreign lobbying and require “dark money” organizations to disclose donations. It would also restructure the Federal Election Commission to reduce the current partisan gridlock.
The power to advance this legislation lies in the hands of the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Iowa’s U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley. Grassley has made no secret of the fact that he does not support portions of the bill, but that should not prevent him from bringing it before his committee for a full and honest discussion of the problems and concerns it addresses.
In the name of good governance, we urge every Iowan to contact Sen. Grassley and demand that he provide a hearing of the For the People Act.