“We cannot afford to squander this opportunity to replenish our system,” Issue One applauds introduction of the Freedom to Vote Act that will reform and strengthen our democracy

Issue One has long fought to fix our broken political system and build a more inclusive democracy by bringing Republicans, Democrats, and independents together to enact sweeping bipartisan reforms. 

Since 2002, Congress has failed to pass bipartisan legislation that strengthens our democracy and reforms our nation’s campaign finance system. In the years since, our nation’s leaders have allowed our institutions to wither as undemocratic forces undermine and erode our Constitution. 

Today’s introduction of the Freedom to Vote Act, spearheaded by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Raphael Warnock (D-GA), offers Congress an important starting point for developing bipartisan agreement on key political reforms. 

In response, Issue One CEO and Founder Nick Penniman and former congressmen and ReFormers Caucus co-chairs Zach Wamp (R-TN) and Tim Roemer (D-IN) issued the following statements:

Penniman, author of Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It, said: “An overwhelming majority of Americans across the political spectrum want concrete reforms to fix our broken political system. The Freedom to Vote Act includes many vital proposals that will build a better democracy and should win the support of Senate Republicans and Democrats alike. Senator Joe Manchin and his colleagues should be applauded for listening to the other side and constructing this bill in a more bipartisan manner. Too many politicians say what they don’t like — Manchin took the harder route by finding solutions that work for both sides of the aisle. The American people are clamoring for reform, and the Senate should take action now. At a moment when our government is long overdue for an upgrade, we cannot afford to squander this opportunity to replenish our system.”

Congressman Wamp, a leader in the 2002 campaign finance reform effort, added: “In many ways, Senator Joe Manchin is serving as the conscience of the American people by attempting to bring the two parties together around common sense reform measures widely supported by the public. Republicans should at least hear him out and try to join him where they can now that his bill guarantees that voters will have to present an ID to vote.”

Ambassador Roemer, who co-founded and co-chaired the New Democrat Coalition in Congress made up of centrist Democrats, also stated: “At a time when political divisions run deeper than many of us have experienced in our lifetimes, there’s one thing we can all agree on: our political system is broken. We need to go back to the basics and establish a more inclusive democracy that works for everyone. The Freedom to Vote Act does just that. By taking on entrenched powers that have deteriorated our democracy for years, our elected leaders in Congress have a chance to pass into law provisions that enjoy near universal support among all voters, regardless of political affiliation. This legislation will fundamentally make us a stronger country and remind voters that Congress can still get something done. I’d like to strongly applaud Senator Manchin for his bipartisan bill and bold approach to repairing our fractured political system. As America talks around the world about the strength and importance of democracies, we must have our Congress show that they are leading the effort to rebuild and reform our own government.”