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Explained: What is Freedom to Vote Act and how it will change US elections

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While the Bill, moved by Democrats is well-intended, archaic ruses like filibusters may well prevent its passage. Unless it can get 60 votes in the Senate, which means 10 Republican votes in addition to 50 Democrat yays, it will dissolve in endless ‘debate.’

Explained: What is Freedom to Vote Act and how it will change US elections
The US is set for a fiery debate over new election legislation that seeks to give greater freedom to voters while still keeping federal elections secure. The Democratic Party introduced the ‘Freedom to Vote’ Act in the Senate, with Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar leading it.
Klobuchar is the Chairwoman of the Committee on Rules and Administration, which overlooks regulations regarding election rules, laws and election campaign finances law.
Klobuchar tweeted, “The Freedom to Vote Act will set basic national standards to make sure all Americans can cast their ballots in the way that works best for them, regardless of what zip code they live in. We can protect the right to vote and this is how we’ll get it done.”
Thinking behind ‘Freedom to Vote’
The Act will “expand Americans’ access to the ballot box and reduce the influence of big money in politics, and for other purposes.” The ‘Freedom to Vote’ is going to replace the ‘For the People Act,’ a previous Bill introduced by the Democrats that had failed to pass the Senate floor.
The Act will finally standardise election voting procedures in various states throughout the US. Currently, the country has wildly varied laws governing voting procedures, with each state having its own mandate.
The Bill will be divided into three categories -- Voters’ Access, Election Integrity, and Civic Participation and Empowerment.
The ‘For the People Act’ had passed through the House of Representatives but the Republican numbers in the Senate blocked it. The current division of the Senate is 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and two Independents (who caucus with the Democrats).
What it proposes
The Bill proposes to introduce several changes that seek to make voting easier for Americans.
Voting day will be declared a public holiday and all eligible voters will be automatically registered for voting so that no one is left out.
Other significant changes include allowing voter information to be registered and updated online, receiving e-mail notification with voting information, allowing voter registration application forms to be used as applications for an absentee ballot, opening registering for voting on the same day as the voting, improve access to voter registration and voting for people with disabilities, offering a 15-day early voting period in every state, letting eligible voters vote without any restrictions imposed on them.
Other areas of the Bill deal with stopping election subversion and preventing the use of election subversion as a straw man to upturn legitimate elections. The Bill will also compel election campaigns to be more transparent with their funding and provide added protection of poll workers, officials and the privacy of citizens.
A hard passage
Due to the way the American legislature has been set up, with very little executive reform since the country’s Independence, the Bill has a hard path before it can become a law. Unless it can get 60 votes in the Senate, which will require the vote of 10 Republican Senators in addition to their own 50, the Bill will be open for debate. Considering that Republican Senators rarely if ever support any Democrat Bills in a bipartisan manner, such an event is considered unlikely.
Without the 60 votes, the Bill will be open to ‘debate.’ Due to the way that the rules have been defined in US legislation, no Bill can be voted on while a debate is ongoing. Here is where the filibuster, a parliamentary tactic to prevent the vote or further discussion on a Bill can come in, with Republican Senators choosing to filibuster the Bill until the Senate is out of session again.
Last chance to save democracy
The ‘Freedom to Vote’ Act has been described by many as the last chance for Democrats to save democracy in the US, as states like Georgia and Texas have introduced harsher laws that prevent free and fair access to voting for existing citizens. The move by these and other Republican states was a direct fallout of former president Donald J. Trump’s public claims that the 2020 election results in favour of President Joe Biden were a result of election subversion.
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