Election and Campaign Finance Reform
Improving our Elections Process
On November 6, 2012, voters turned out in record numbers across the country to exercise the most fundamental right of our democracy: the right to vote. Unfortunately, many found themselves in long lines, in some cases waiting hours after the polls closed. In certain states, reports indicated that polls didn’t open on time due to a lack of election workers; in others, people reportedly waited upwards of five hours due to a shortage of voting machines, election workers and ballots.
As a former Secretary of State, I find it indefensible that these issues continue to plague our elections in the 21st Century. They present distressing barriers to participation in our democratic process, particularly among minority voters, members of our Armed Services, people with disabilities and seniors.
To address these continuing challenges, I am co-leading the FAST Voting Act with Congressman Gerald Connolly (VA-11), which would provide grants to states to improve their elections process, including access to same-day registration, early and absentee voting, poll worker training, and effective voting practices for members of the U.S. Military and individuals with disabilities. I am also an original cosponsor of the Voter Empowerment Act, to provide improved access to ballots, protect the integrity of our voting systems and ensure accountability in our elections.
Campaign Finance Reform
I am firmly committed to removing the influence of money from elections.
The rising cost of political campaigns is a serious cause for concern in the United States, as some qualified candidates are discouraged from running for office because they do not have the financial means to do so. Furthermore, the exorbitant cost of campaigns has increased the role of political action committees, interest groups, and political parties through unregulated soft money donations.
In its controversial Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court overturned long-standing legal precedents, effectively allowing virtually unlimited corporate and special interest spending in elections. The eventual result of this and subsequent Supreme Court rulings was the emergence of Super PACs – political action committees permitted to accept unlimited contributions and make unlimited expenditures aimed at electing or defeating federal candidates.
I am proud to be a cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, which would require timely disclosure by Super PACs that spend money on campaign advertisements and would require lobbyists to disclose their expenditures to these groups. It would also force corporations to disclose campaign expenditures to their shareholders and would obligate Super PACs to disclose their top five donors in each ad.
Further, in order to remedy the High Court’s overarching opinion that allowed unprecedented amounts of money to flow into the political system, I cosponsored a Constitutional Amendment that would grant Congress and the states the power to regulate campaign contributions in federal and state elections, respectively.
Changing the way we conduct business in Washington and making our government more transparent and accountable to the public is one of my highest priorities. We must ensure that national policy decisions are based on the power of ideas and not the power of money.