Wealthy individuals and corporations are buying and corrupting our candidates for public office and our political system. Congressional races, state ballot questions, and possible 2024 presidential candidates are all raising record amounts of money. Furthermore, an increasing proportion of this money is coming from a small number of very wealthy donors. This is damaging our democracy in multiple ways. (See previous posts here and here for some details.)
(Note: If you find my posts too long or too dense to read on occasion, please just read the bolded portions. They present the key points I’m making and the most important information I’m sharing.)
We need to rein in the corrupting effects of huge amounts of money being spent on election campaigns by a relatively small number of very wealthy individuals and corporations. A few dozen billionaires will spend over $100 million on the 2022 elections after spending $1.2 billion on the 2020 elections, which included a presidential election. Ultimately, we need a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions (e.g., Citizens United) that equate spending with speech and give freedom of speech rights to corporations and other organizations. But that’s a long-term strategy.
Initial steps to address this problem include:
- Enhancing disclosure of spending in campaigns: full disclosure of who the money is coming from, including both individuals and organizations, disclosed in a timely fashion so voters know who is trying to influence their votes,
- Enacting partial public financing of campaigns that will reduce dependence on wealthy donors and provide a way within current law to limit the size of contributions,
- Reducing the accumulation of huge wealth and hence political power in the hands of a very few people, which is antithetical to democracy, by reforming our tax system, including the implementation of a wealth tax, and
- Reducing corporate influence in our politics and policy making by enforcing anti-trust laws (see this post for more information) because huge corporations with huge wealth and political power are antithetical to democracy. We also need to better regulate lobbying and the revolving door of personnel between corporate and government jobs. These steps are topics for other posts.
Two bills were passed by the U.S. House that would address election system issues (items 1 and 2 above), the DISCLOSE Act and the For the People Act. Both have been blocked by Republicans and the filibuster in the Senate. (In addition, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore and revitalize the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 and stop racial discrimination in our elections, passed the House but was also blocked in the Senate.)
In response, The Freedom to Vote Act (S.2747), a compromise bill, was developed and introduced in the Senate. It includes most of the key provisions of the For the People Act and the DISCLOSE Act. Unfortunately, Republicans in the Senate have blocked it as well.
The Freedom to Vote Act includes provisions that would: 
- Reform the campaign finance system by a) requiring enhanced disclosure (e.g., all major donors) by any entity spending more than $10,000, b) ensuring super PACs are truly independent of candidates, and c) strengthening campaign finance enforcement,
- Create a publicly-funded system for matching small donations to U.S. House campaigns that states and candidates can opt into, which would match small donations with $6 for every $1 contributed in exchange for limiting the size of donations, thereby eliminating the need for candidates to rely on big money donors and their corrupting influence,
- Enhance protections for election officials, ballots, and other election records and procedures,
- Expand opportunities to vote through mail-in voting, early voting, and making election day a holiday,
- Reduce voter suppression by a) creating a national standard for voter IDs that allow a wide range of options, b) restoring formerly incarcerated citizens’ federal voting rights, c) requiring waiting lines to be less than 30 minutes, and d) cracking down on intimidating and deceptive election-related practices,
- Modernize voter registration with same-day, online, and automatic registration, as well as protection against unjustifiable purges of voters from the voting rolls, and
- Ban partisan gerrymandering and establish clear, neutral standards for redistricting.
I encourage to you contact President Biden and your Representative and Senators in Congress. Ask them to support the Freedom to Vote Act (S.2747) to ensure fair, democratic elections. You can email President Biden at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments or you can call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 or the switchboard at 202-456-1414. You can find contact information for your U.S. Representative at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and for your U.S. Senators at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.
My next post will identify some reforms to our tax system that are needed to begin to reduce the accumulation of great wealth and hence political power in the hands of a very few people, which is antithetical to democracy.
 Brennan Center for Justice, retrieved 10/15/22, “The Freedom to Vote Act,” (https://www.brennancenter.org/freedom-vote-act)