Free and Fairer Elections
Throughout his career in Congress, Rep. Larson has continually fought for free and fair elections for the American people. As an early proponent of publicly-financed congressional elections that would put the power in the hands of the people instead of wealthy individuals and big corporations, his work has been recognized by good government groups such as Common Cause and Demos.
In the 113th Congress, Rep. Larson served as Chairman of the Task Force on Election Reform, leading the Democratic Caucus’s efforts to shed light on the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. This laid the groundwork for H.R. 1, a historic government reform bill which passed the House of Representatives in March of 2019 and is awaiting a Senate vote. This package contained a number of priorities he has fought for throughout his career.
Rep. Larson answers a question from a constituent at a
campaign finance reform forum in West Hartford.
Overturning the Destructive Citizens United Decision
The U.S. Supreme Court decision on Citizens United opened a Pandora’s Box of unintended consequences by allowing nearly unlimited money to flow into our elections. Since then, Rep. Larson has cosponsored constitutional amendments that would reverse this disastrous ruling. Such an amendment would once again empower Congress to enact strong campaign finance regulations such as laws limiting large contributions and governing campaign spending. It would also give Congress and the States the power to enact common sense laws to restrict the unlimited flow of money into our elections without facing objections from the Court.
H.R. 1 expresses support for this proposal.
Rep. Larson is a longtime cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 2977), a direct response to the Citizens United decision intended to pull back the curtain on campaign finance reports. The DISCLOSE Act would mandate timely disclosure requirements for corporations, labor organizations, and other entities, and require those organizations to clearly share such information with the shareholders and members they represent.
Citizens United empowered corporations to funnel vast sums of money into elections while keeping the public in the dark. The DISCLOSE Act would shine a light on those contributions and ensure the American people know who might be influencing attack ads and other communications.
H.R. 1 includes the DISCLOSE Act., Rep. Larson is also a cosponsor of the standalone legislation.
Ensuring All Voices Are Heard
Our nation was founded on the principle that all citizens are entitled to an equal voice in their government. When corporations or the very wealthy flood elections with untold amounts of money, the voices of countless middle-class Americans are drowned out. Rep. Larson first introduced the Fair Elections Now Act in 2008, a proposal modeled after Connecticut’s successful publicly funded elections program.
H.R. 1 creates a 6:1 small dollar match for candidates who refuse large money donations.
Protecting the Right to Vote
It is critically important that we stand up and confront any attempt to make it harder for Americans to exercise their right to vote— whether though restrictive ID laws, selective elimination of neighborhood polling places, or cutting back on early voting opportunities which are particularly important to young, working class, and minority voters.
Rep. Larson was shocked that the U.S. Supreme Court moved to undermine key portions of the historically bipartisan Voting Rights Act in the 2013 Shelby County decision. Since that ruling, we have seen a wave of the most blatant attempts at making it more difficult for particular groups of people to vote since the early days of the Civil Rights movement.
We cannot allow our society to lose ground in our quest for equality by giving up the hard-won gains of the last generation. The right to vote is fundamental to retaining a free and open government that works on behalf of all Americans. That’s why Rep. Larson is proud to support and co-sponsor the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4), which passed the House of Representatives in December of 2019. This bill would restore and strengthen the protections guaranteed under the original Voting Rights Act while addressing concerns identified by the Court.