I'm a big fan of the work of Freedom House, and love the annual reports they do on the status of freedom and democracy around the world. It's too early for the 2020 reports to have been written, but 2019 was the 14th consecutive year that saw a global decline in freedom, and even in the United States we saw a decline in our Freedom Score between 2017 and 2020, as our Political Rights score trickled down three points. I suspect that the 2021 report card will begin with key developments that include COVID-19 and false claims of a stolen election. In response to this "stolen" election, our "friends" at the Republican Study Committee, including our Congressman, Jim Banks, have introduced to the world a disastrous piece of racist legislation they're calling the "Save Democracy Act." The Act has nothing to do with saving democracy, but is instead a piece of targeted legislation designed to make it harder for people to vote, especially people who may disagree with them. This isn't the first time they've attempted to do this, and each attempt is wrapped in patriotism, and they tell us it's because of rampant voter fraud. This is a lie, and these laws are nothing more than flag-wrapped fascism. The Brennan Center has done numerous studies on voter fraud and repeatedly found that bills like the Save Democracy Act are a solution without a problem. Across this country voting is already complicated, and is purposely designed that way to make it easier to prevent people from voting. The fact of the matter is we need to take steps to make it easier to vote, and I believe the following steps are the right path: Automatic Voter Registration - When you visit the BMV, you get registered to vote unless you opt out. Expand Early Voting - In-person early voting locations must be open evenings and weekends, so no one is left out of the process by their work day. Same-day Registration - Voter registration deadlines are arbitrary and confusing, and have the potential of leaving voters out of the process. Same-day registration must be legal in all cases.
Expand Polling Location - We must ensure that every neighborhood as a convenient voting location, with enough machines and enough volunteers. For too long this nation has suppressed the vote by making it harder to for certain communities, most of them black, to vote. Re-enfranchise the Formerly Incarcerated - The disenfranchisement of felons is, much like mandatory minimums for certain drug sentences, a racist holdover of Jim Crow laws, and needs to be ended at the federal level. No matter your crime, when the time is served and you have re-joined society, the right to vote must be restored. Deliver 100% of Voters a Mail-in Ballot - VBM, which became the law of the land in Oregon 1998, has allowed Oregon to be among the nations leaders in voter turnout every year, and during the pandemic election of 2020, Oregon again had turnout over 75%. With increased mail-in ballots throughout the United States, 2020 saw the turnout of Voting Age Person soar to 62%, the first time it had been over 60% since 1968, and with 46% of voters voting absentee or mail-in ballot we still have not found widespread fraud. Yet, here we are, looking at another bill from the Republican Study Committee that is designed to suppress voters who may not agree with the Republican Study Committee. This is just part of a long line of laws no one wants that Jim Banks keeps presenting. To date he's introduced 702 pieces of legislation, and 27 of them were signed by his beloved leader, Donald Trump. He doesn't work for us. He doesn't care about us. He cares about power. He cares about getting re-elected. Let's make sure he doesn't.