What Is the 2021 For the People Act? Everything You Need To Know About the Michele Obama-Approved Bill

Robyn Mowatt Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she…
Michelle Obama
Photo Credit: Rick Kern for WireImage

The Michelle Obama-approved 2021 For the People Act is seeking to overhaul the current voting process in all 43 states. It lists policies that will forever change how people register to vote and improve access to voting.

Rethinking the entire voting process is at the top of the priorities list for House Democrats. Given the outlandish 2020 presidential election that featured many talking heads imploring Americans to believe President Joe Biden stole the election, this makes complete sense. Here enters, the 2021 For the People Act, HR1, a piece of legislation that includes a list of policies that will forever change how people register to vote and improve access to voting for marginalized communities.

The bill is made up of 791 pages and addresses how ballots are cast and also how states conduct elections. Earlier this month, it passed in the House, right now Senate Republicans are pushing back and aiming to bury the legislation.

On Tuesday, over 60 voices notable voices made up of When We All Vote co-chairs including Michelle Obama, ambassadors, supporters, and countless others released an open letter stating their support for the bill.

Below we’re sharing everything we know about the 2021 For People Act that’s being called the next civil rights act.

What is the 2021 For the People Act?

The 2021 For the People Act, HR1 is aimed at protecting and expanding voting rights in addition to reforming campaign finance laws. Earlier this month, it passed in the House. Per NPR, it’s a reboot of a 2019 bill of the same name. That same year it passed in the House, but it did not have a chance to move forward in the Republican-controlled Senate.

What are the benefits of the For the People Act?

The bill is seeking to “expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and implement anti-corruption measures for the purpose of fortifying our democracy, and for other purposes.”

Additional highlights: 

  • Requiring states to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to preregister when they get their driver’s licenses so they can vote when they turn 18
  • Require states to offer the option of voting by mail in addition to mandating 15 consecutive days of in-person early voting for at least 10 hours a day
  • Requiring the allocation of enough resources to ensure voters don’t wait longer than 30 minutes when voting
  • Improve election security by creating standards for election vendors, and rules for communicating potential cyberattacks to federal officials

The 2021 For the People Act also requires organizations to disclose all donations and “return unspent public funds over $100,000.” Beyond that, it also will create a matching system for small donations.  

Where does it stand right now?

As of March 3, 2021 it passed in the House. On March 24, the Senate Rules Committee will hold a hearing on the legislation. Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced the hearing would be held “so we can quickly advance these long-needed democracy reforms to ensure our government is of, by and for the American people.”

Who is publicly supporting the 2021 For People Act?

President Joe Biden has endorsed the 2021 For the People Act. On Tuesday, Michelle Obama, Common, Issa Rae, Jada Pinkett Smith, LL Kool J, Martin Lawrence, Regina King, DJ Khaled, Kerry Washington and other celebrities contributed their name to an open letter urging Americans to call upon their Senators.

A part of the letter read:

“To the American People:

We write to you today as citizens who love this country and care deeply about its future. And right now, the most important thing we can do to protect that future is to rise together in support of the For the People Act currently before the Senate—the most significant piece of legislation to strengthen our democracy since the Civil Rights movement.

What’s happening is this: After more Americans than ever voted in the last presidential election, some state leaders believe that silencing them is the only way to maintain their grip on power. They’re hoping to choose their voters, rather than the other way around. And if we as Americans stand idly by—if we wait for others to act or we refuse to do so with anything other than clear purpose and full-hearted patriotism—they will succeed.

Our nation was founded on the idea that as citizens, we should be able to determine our nation’s destiny. Generations of Americans have rightly organized, marched, and died to defend that ideal and expand voting and civil rights to women and minorities—a story that continues to this day. Today, the moment calls for us to take up that patriotic call to protect and expand those rights once again. And that’s why we must rally behind the passage of the For the People Act.”

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