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 real impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United. He fought hard to stop any measures which would increase the flow of money into our electoral process or make it harder for Americans to cast a ballot; however the fact remains our electoral system is broken and in serious need of repair.
Rep. Larson answers a question from a constituent at a
campaign finance reform forum in West Hartford.
In the five years since Citizens United, the nation has seen a significant influx in the amount of undisclosed, unregulated money pouring into our elections which has diminished public trust in our government. The 2013 Shelby County decision gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and further undermined the ability of some voters to cast their ballots free of discriminatory policies.
Rep. Larson is not giving up. Americans deserve fair elections, and he will keep fighting for this fundamental right on four main fronts:
Overturning the Destructive Citizens United Decision
When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Citizens United, they opened a Pandora’s Box of unintended consequences by allowing nearly unlimited money to flow into our elections. The Supreme Court had their chance to speak, and now the American people will have theirs through the ‘Democracy Is for All’ constitutional amendment, (H.J.RES.22).
This constitutional amendment will offer the best chance of overturning the damaging Citizens United decision. It 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.
Rep. Larson is a proud cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 430), 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.
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. In response, Rep. Larson is a proud cosponsor of the Government by the People Act (H.R. 20) which would empower everyday people rather than special interests through three simple policy changes:
1. Empower the public to take an active role in elections by providing them with a $25 My Voice Tax Credit to be used for campaign contributions.
2. Incentivize these low-donor contributions by establishing a Freedom from Influence Fund to match qualifying donations at a six-to-one ratio.
3. Combat Super PACs and other outside groups by allowing candidates to earn additional public funds within 60 days of an election.
Elected officials should represent the will of the voters—not special interest groups. With sensible reforms, everyday Americans can once again ensure they have a prominent voice in their government.
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 ashamed of the U.S. Supreme Court when it 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 of 2015 (H.R. 2867). This bill would restore and strengthen the protections guaranteed under the original Voting Rights Act while addressing concerns identified by the Court.