Commentary: Pass the For the People Act to fight voter suppression, root out corruption

By: - May 6, 2021 6:15 am
John Lewis

The John Lewis bill has not been introduced in this Congress. (Getty Images)

The late congressman John Lewis once said: “The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democracy.” I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve said before that voting is not just a right but it is our civic duty, and voting should be conducted safely, fairly, and with the passion that Granite Staters are known for nationally. That’s why I applaud Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, Congresswoman Annie Kuster, and Congressman Chris Pappas for supporting the For the People Act. President Joe Biden must sign this bill; it is legislation that makes sure power is in the hands of voters.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris want the United States to “build back better” from the pandemic. H.R. 1, also known as the For the People Act, will allow us to do so by strengthening and ensuring we keep our democracy. This groundbreaking piece of legislation tackles the dual crises facing our democracy right now – voter suppression and corruption. This is a powerfully important, once-in-a-generation piece of legislation that will revitalize our democracy.

Anyone who reads the For the People Act understands that it is all about making it easier for eligible voters to cast their ballots. This is something I worked to do in the New Hampshire Senate by expanding absentee voting this past cycle. The For the People Act also ends the influence of special interests, billionaires, and corporations who spend billions of dollars interfering in our elections.

Folks who read it also know that it will not endanger our first-in-the-nation primary. In fact, I argue that this bill strengthens our primary process because it makes voting more accessible to hard-working Americans.

Granite Staters pride ourselves on fully vetting all presidential candidates and casting our ballots. This is important to us; our high voter participation rates prove that importance. By expanding absentee voting, the For the People Act gives everyday Americans, like folks who work long hours as caretakers or the cashier at your local McDonald’s, the options they deserve to cast their ballot. The actual threats to our first-in-the-nation primary are bills that suppress the right to vote.

I wholeheartedly believe that as the first-in-the-nation primary state, all Granite Staters should support this legislation because New Hampshire should be an exemplary model of democracy and supporting voting rights.

This bill is bold, and it meets the moment with provisions that will move toward overturning the Citizens United decision and reining in the influence of dark money in American elections. It combats corruption and election interference in a variety of ways, ranging from requiring congressional employees to disclose outside income to investing in cybersecurity and traditional security to protect American elections.

Simply put, this bill takes comprehensive, common-sense steps to combat corruption. In fact, it is the largest anti-corruption bill in a generation.

The For the People Act is all about transparency, ethics, and making it easier for eligible voters to participate in our democratic process – and it should be easier, not harder, to vote. That’s something all Americans can get behind. In fact, that’s why 67 percent of Americans – including a majority of Republicans and independents – support the For the People Act.

The For the People Act would crack down on dark money and its benefactors. Groups that are actively sowing distrust around the For the People Act want to not only maintain the status quo but further suppress voting rights. They’re doing this at the expense of not just Granite Staters, but Americans all over the country and our democracy as a whole.

This legislation must pass so we can continue to hold all politicians accountable, and so we can end the influence of billionaires and corporate special interests in our democratic process.

When passed, the For the People Act will be the landmark civil rights legislation of our time. And this bill couldn’t come at a more pivotal time. In addition to the insidious influence of dark money in our politics, over the past few years we’ve seen evidence of voter suppression and foreign interference in our elections.

The For the People Act is coming at the right time and will help us protect the sacred right of voting for generations to come. I know that the voters will win against big money, and when this bill is passed I’m hopeful our democracy will reach its full potential.

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Melanie Levesque
Melanie Levesque

Melanie Levesque served as a state senator for District 12 (Nashua to Rindge) from 2018–2020. She chaired the Election Law and Municipal Affairs Committee. She also served on the Senate Judiciary and Transportation committees. As a state representative (2006–2010; 2012–2014) she was a member of House Election Law and Science, Technology, and Energy committees. Currently, she serves as a board member for the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, is a member of New Hampshire Endowment for Health advisory committee, trustee for the town of Brookline, and trustee for the Brookline Community Church. She is the president of TCS of America Enterprises, LLC, a telecommunications consulting firm. She grew up in Nashua and resides in Brookline, with her husband, Scott, and daughter, Logan.