In a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the vote is one of the most precious rights we have – and it must be defended fully and robustly. Yet, across the country, state legislatures are seizing on the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen, and many have moved to erect new barriers to the ballot box that make it harder for Americans to vote – especially people of color, Americans with disabilities, and younger voters. They are also enacting changes to make it easier for partisans in positions of power to substitute their preferences for the winner of the actual vote – overturning the will of the people. Meanwhile, big corporations and special interest groups continue to flood U.S. elections with secret, undisclosed money that eats away at our democracy, disempowers voters, and leaves the American people in the dark. Senator Van Hollen believes we must act urgently to put our democracy firmly back in the hands of the American people, and he’s a key leader in the fight to do just that.
In Congress, Senator Van Hollen is fighting to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, legislation he has cosponsored that would establish a minimum set of national standards to ensure that our fellow citizens can make their voices heard at the ballot box. In addition, this bill includes essential campaign finance reform provisions that Senator Van Hollen has championed for years, including the DISCLOSE Act that he originally authored and passed in the House to expose the individuals and corporations that are flooding our elections with secret dark money; elements from his Restoring Integrity to Federal Elections Act to strengthen the FEC’s authority to enforce campaign finance laws; and a small dollar campaign funding match program to empower everyday voters. This bill would also end partisan gerrymandering nationwide in federal elections so that voters pick their representatives – instead of representatives picking their voters. Senator Van Hollen is pairing his ongoing effort to pass broad democracy reform with his continuing push for the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the full protections guaranteed under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were shamefully undone by a divided Supreme Court in the controversial 5-4 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder. Unfortunately, not a single Republican Senator is prepared to join Senate Democrats in passing both of these bills.
The Senate GOP has weaponized the filibuster to thwart progress on voting rights and other key measures that enjoy the support of the American people. Senator Van Hollen believes we must restore the intent of the original rules of the Senate that allow for ample debate, but where the majority of senators can ultimately vote to reflect the will of the public. It’s time to end or amend the current Senate rule that allows 41 of the 100 senators to block votes on bills of vital importance to the country. We must address the ongoing threats to our democracy and restore function to the Senate.
Senator Van Hollen also believes that a strong democracy represents the voices of all the people, including those who live in our nation’s capital. For far too long, the people of the District of Columbia have been denied their right of self-governance and have faced taxation without representation. The people who reside in D.C. must be given the same basic political rights afforded to citizens in the fifty states: the right to send their representatives and senators to vote on their behalf in the House and Senate. Senator Van Hollen believes that we must grant the District statehood, now, and he is leading the fight to get it done.
Our American experiment is fragile, and the machinery of American democracy requires constant attention and care. That’s why Senator Van Hollen is fully dedicated to protecting the right to vote, strengthening the pillars of our democracy, and fending off partisan efforts to undermine faith in our elections – and he is doing everything in his power to advance those key goals in the Senate.