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Attorney General Nessel Joins Coalition in Letter of Support to Congress for Election Reforms

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today joined a coalition of attorneys general in sending a letter to Congressional leadership urging support for H.R. 1/S. 1, the For the People Act of 2021. The bill is an omnibus package of democracy reforms designed to expand access to the ballot, protect elections from foreign interference, force disclosure of dark money in federal elections, and raise ethical standards for federal officials.   

In the first two months of the 2021 legislative session, at least 165 bills in 33 states have been introduced to restrict voting access – four times the number of similar bills introduced last year, according to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. Despite confirmation that there was no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularity in the 2020 election, state legislators have seized upon baseless voter-fraud allegations to curtail mail-in voting options, impose stringent voter ID requirements, limit voter registration opportunities and allow even more aggressive purging of voter rolls. 

"This package of reforms addresses a number of important items including voter suppression, election interference, and raising ethical standards of federal officials,” said Nessel. “I urge Congressional leadership to support this legislation for the benefit of our democracy. This could help ensure greater flexibility in how Americans can cast their ballots and greater transparency of how money and those with deep pockets attempt to influence our elections.”  

The Act includes several measures that would neutralize efforts to suppress the vote by making it easier to cast ballots, reducing the influence of dark money in elections, and codifying ethical standards for public servants. The Act would improve and modernize access to the ballot by:  

  • Requiring states to implement online registration; 
  • Establishing automatic voter registration; 
  • Prohibiting unnecessary purges of the voting rolls; 
  • Requiring states to permit voters in federal elections to submit a sworn statement to meet ID requirements; 
  • Expanding access to federal elections through early voting and mail-in voting; and 
  • Prohibiting the knowing dissemination of false information about elections and stiffening penalties for voter intimidation. 

Additionally, the Act would close dark-money loopholes by requiring disclosure when wealthy donors give $10,000 or more to a group that spends money on elections and addresses the problem of partisan gerrymandering by putting redistricting in the hands of independent commissions.   

Finally, the Act seeks to close legal loopholes that allow the president and certain federal officials to evade accountability for personally profiting from their office by: 

  • Heightening disclosure requirements applicable to the president;  
  • Requiring the holder of the Office of the President to divest from financial interests that pose a conflict of interest;  
  • Providing the Office of Government Ethics with enhanced enforcement powers; and,  
  • Prohibiting members of Congress from serving on the board of directors of for-profit entities during their terms in office and requiring the Judicial Conference to develop a code of ethics applicable to Supreme Court Justices.   

Joining Attorney General Nessel in sending this letter are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.   

Click here to view the letter