Science Group Hails Senate’s Bill to Improve Elections, Strengthen Democracy

Statement by Taofik Oladipo, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jan 19, 2021

WASHINGTON (January 19, 2021)—Today, incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with Senators Jeff Merkley and Amy Klobuchar, have designated the For the People Act as S.1 and announced it will be the first bill taken up by the new Senate. The For the People Act contains a set of major reforms that would update voting rights, campaign finance rules, and other vital parts of the democratic process. The new bill is a Senate companion to the recently introduced HR1. This bill, if it becomes law, would invigorate democracy, giving more people the chance for meaningful participation in their own government, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Taofik Oladipo, policy advocate for the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

“For too long, our electoral system has been stifled by racial discrimination, conflicts of interest, bad-faith voting restrictions, the distorting power of big money and unethical attempts to game the system. As we face the extraordinary challenges of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, economic turmoil and long-standing racial inequities, we can no longer tolerate a government that’s only accountable to those with the biggest bankrolls and the best lobbyists. It’s time for a change.

“The For the People Act would secure voting rights for more people, reduce racial and politically-motivated gerrymandering and manipulation of the voter rolls, and blunt the power of big political spending to distort political outcomes. It’s a vital set of reforms that would help fulfill the promises of our democracy.

“The incredible turnout in the 2020 elections—in spite of the burdens imposed by unfair laws and the dangers of COVID-19—shows that people across the country want to make their voices heard. Our leaders owe it to their constituents to make sure that voting is safe, accessible and meaningful, and that the public interest isn’t drowned out by the narrow interests of a few powerful actors. Leader Schumer, Senator Merkley and Senator Klobuchar are right in making the For the People Act the very first bill they introduce this session, demonstrating that they understand the importance of a healthy democracy. A pro-science agenda to solve our collective challenges requires free and fair elections.”