Campaign Finance and Election Reform
“The right to vote is the most fundamental right in any democracy – the right from which all others meaningfully derive. Deny someone the right to vote, and you may deny them the right to speak, to associate with whom they choose or to freely exercise their faith – for if these other rights are infringed, how may we seek redress but at the ballot box. Not even the courts can secure our rights in the absence of an effective franchise. Congress established the inferior courts and Congress may abolish them; the right to vote alone is foundation to all of the others.”
– Rep. Adam Schiff
Protecting the Right to Vote
Across the United States, the right to vote is under attack. New state laws have been enacted that restrict voter registration drives, eliminate same-day voter registration, reduce the early voting period, and require photo identification and proof of citizenship to vote. Thirty-four states have passed laws that requiring voters to show some kind of identification at the polls, which disproportionately impacts young, elderly, minority, low-income, and disabled voters. The rollback of voting rights is not confined to the states; the Supreme Court has also made it more difficult to ensure adequate protection from disenfranchisement in federal elections.
Rep. Adam Schiff is a strong believer that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been enormously important in ensuring the right of Americans to vote. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required that nine states and many other counties and municipalities around the country with histories of voter discrimination obtain federal pre-clearance before changing voting laws. However, the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder ruled that the formula to determine which jurisdictions must get pre-clearance is out of date. Immediately thereafter, Texas announced that a previously blocked voter identification law would go into effect and that redistricting maps would no longer need federal approval – actions that could seriously undermine minority voting rights in that state.
In March 2019, the House passed H.R.1: The For The People Act, of which Rep. Schiff is a proud cosponsor. This legislation will empower voters and strengthen our democracy by ending partisan gerrymandering, making Election Day a federal holiday, banning voter roll purging, expanding automatic voter registration and early voting, giving public matching funds for small donors and increasing disclosure. This bill will make it easier to vote, bring needed reform to our campaign finance system, and help fight corruption to ensure that the government is working for the American people, not special interests. This will make our democracy stronger.
Stopping the Flood of Unregulated Spending
Rep. Schiff was elected to Congress in 2000 after a race that was, at the time, the most expensive in the history of the House of Representatives. This race helped inform Schiff’s strong belief that reform is desperately needed to tackle election spending by corporations and wealthy individuals. The first bill Schiff co-sponsored in Congress was the bipartisan McCain-Feingold Act to regulate the financing of political campaigns. It was later passed and signed into law.
Since 2010, hundreds of millions of dollars have poured into campaigns as a result of Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, which allows corporations to spend unlimited funds to run campaign ads and struck down decades of restrictions on corporate spending in electoral campaigns, and McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission, in which the Supreme Court struck down limits on overall federal campaign contributions. Congressman Schiff believes that a constitutional amendment is necessary to remedy this threat to our democracy. For that reason, Schiff has consistently introduced a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to set reasonable limits on campaign contributions and independent expenditures and would allow – but not require – states to enact their own public financing laws. Schiff will keep fighting to address our broken campaign finance system and to reform and strengthen the election system to empower voters and protect one of our most fundamental rights.