House Democrats have waited eight years to regain the speakership, and now that they hold the gavel, they will clearly seek to move on pent-up priorities. For their first act out of the gate, they rolled several into one. The “For the People Act” — or H.R. 1 — runs just over 500 pages and includes proposals the Democrats have pursued during their time in the minority, such as ethics reforms, campaign finance changes, and a well-publicized section requiring presidential candidates to hand over their tax returns. But the bill also lays out a vision for election administration in 2020 and beyond, putting the voter at the center of the process instead of focusing on what is easier for government. Congress taking the lead could cause some heartburn at the state level.
Take voter registration. House Democrats went with an all-of-the-above approach to address their focus on expanding access.
They want to see voter registration over the internet, automatic voter registration, and same-day registration. They want better interstate voter matching for more accurate rolls and curbs on some list maintenance activities — items that actually address a key concern among Republicans about election integrity and form the basis for compromise.
Much of America is ahead of Congress. Michigan in 2018 became the latest of 40 states —red, blue, and purple — that allow voters to register online. Automatic voter registration is proliferating across the country, and the most well-known interstate voter registration matching program includes nearly half the states.