New Report Outlines Executive Actions That Must be Paired with Commitment to Supporting the Passage of the For the People Act as First Legislative Priority  

Washington, DC — Today, the Declaration for American Democracy — a coalition of over 170+ organizations from the labor, racial justice, voting rights, faith, environmental, women’s rights, good government, and many other important communities representing tens of millions of Americans — released a new report detailing executive actions President-elect Biden should take on day one of his administration to strengthen our democracy. 

These executive actions are steps that can be taken immediately upon a new administration to set a tone from the top and transform our current system into one that reflects, responds to, and represents the people. 

“These executive actions are a down payment on the For the People Act, a once-in-a-generation democracy reform package passed by the House of Representatives as H.R. 1 in 2019, and cosponsored by all members of the Senate Democratic Caucus,” said Jana Morgan, director of the Declaration for American Democracy. “Together, they will begin to rebuild our democracy from the ground up. This opportunity comes not a moment too soon.”

Executive actions a Biden administration should take to strengthen our democracy from day one include:  

  • Protecting voting rights through steps like directing federal agencies to assist in voter registration;
  • Ensuring an honest democracy through steps like restoring a meaningful ethics pledge for government officials;
  • Ensuring meaningful participation in our democracy from all Americans by ensuring that the president and key administration officials pledge that they won’t solicit super PAC contributions or appear at super PAC events so that big money influence over their actions is limited;
  • Embedding transparency in our government and our elections through steps like publishing White House visitor logs;
  • Encouraging responsiveness in our democracy through steps like combating the reverse revolving door that allows corporate executives and business lobbyists to be appointed to key posts in federal agencies; and,
  • Upholding checks and balances through steps like disclosing and reassessing the Office of Legal Counsel opinions. 

In addition to these executive actions, President-elect Biden must also vocally reaffirm his commitment to the passage of the For the People Act (HR1), the most comprehensive package of democracy reforms to pass either chamber of Congress in a generation. The policies included in H.R. 1 would expand voting rights, reduce corruption in politics, create a more open and transparent government, and go a long way toward restoring faith in our government and elected officials. It also calls for the passage of H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. The report also lists critical presidential appointees who can make sure these actions are carried out at every level of the executive branch.

“Voters have made clear they want a democracy and administration that are representative of their voices and values,” said Morgan. “The new Biden administration must take action on day one to significantly transform our democracy and set a tone that his administration is committed to an ethical and transparent government.” 

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The Declaration for American Democracy is a coalition of over 170+ organizations from the labor, racial justice, voting rights, faith, environmental, women’s rights, good government, and many other important communities, representing tens of millions of Americans.

What does the For the People Act (S. 1/H.R. 1) do?

The For the People Act is a sweeping package to realize the promise of our democracy, get big money out of politics, ensure our freedom to vote, and guarantee that congressional districts are drawn to give fair representation for all.

Together we can realize a democracy that represents, reflects, and responds to all of us.

Gets big money out of politics.

The For the People Act (H.R. 1):

  • counters the Citizens United decision
  • establishes a voluntary small donor public financing system for House races
  • enacts the DISCLOSE Act
  • reveals who's funding dark money groups
  • strengthens the prohibition on campaign spending by foreign nationals
  • enacts the Honest Ads Act
  • reveals who's buying online political ads
  • enacts the Stand By Every Ad Act
  • requires political ad buyers to reveal their top donors and chief officials
  • mandates greater transparency from tax-exempt organizations
  • requires publicly traded companies to consult with shareholders before spending on politics
  • leads to disclosure of contributions by government contractors
  • holds presidential inaugural committees accountable
  • pilots a voucher program, so voters can contribute to candidates of their choice
  • establishes a small donor matching system for Congressional elections
  • reforms the presidential public financing program
  • empowers more people to run by allowing federal candidates who are not incumbents to use part of their campaign funds for childcare and certain other expenses
  • encourages small dollar donations to political party committees
  • overhauls the FEC
  • cracks down on Super PAC-Candidate coordination
  • requires disposal of unused campaign funds
Makes voting simpler, safer, and fairer.

The For the People Act (H.R. 1):

  • commits to restore and update the full protections of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) — the most effective civil rights legislation in the history of the United States
  • commits to protect and promote Native American voting rights
  • ensures access to voting for individuals with disabilities
  • supports DC statehood
  • supports federal voting rights for Americans living in US territories
  • enacts the Redistricting Reform Act of 2019
  • bans partisan and racial gerrymandering
  • adopts independent redistricting commissions
  • combats cyberattacks, election hacking, and disinformation campaigns
  • promotes online voter registration in federal elections nationwide
  • requires automatic voter registration for federal elections nationwide
  • allows same day registration for federal elections nationwide
  • prevents voter roll purges
  • makes registration deadlines line up with public holidays
  • requires USPS to remind movers to update their voter registration
  • creates grants to boost youth involvement in election activities
  • provide additional state funding to update registration processes
  • prohibits interference with voter registration
  • standardizes voter registrations across states
  • expands pre-registration for future voters currently 16 or older
  • prohibits voter caging
  • enacts the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act
  • restores federal voting rights to those disenfranchised by a prior criminal conviction
  • adopt paper ballots
  • strengthen provisional balloting
  • create a nationwide standard for early voting
  • expand opportunities to vote by mail
  • protect voting rights for absent military and overseas voters
  • provides grants for more poll workers
  • enhances enforcement of existing standards
  • prevents conflicts of interest with chief state election officials
  • allows public universities to become voter registration agencies
  • lets students vote where they attend school
  • requires a weeks' notice to change polling places
  • allows a sworn statement option for voter ID requirements
  • makes absentee ballots postage-free
  • helps states process absentee ballots
  • strengthens voter information support
  • standardizes polling place hours of operation
  • improves the Election Assistance Commission
  • funds election security upgrades
  • increases communication about threats to state election systems
Holds public officials accountable.

The For the People Act (H.R. 1):

  • requires sitting presidents, vice presidents, and major-party candidates for those offices to disclose their tax returns
  • requires a code of ethics for the United States Supreme Court
  • updates and enforces the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)
  • increases federal lobbying disclosure requirements
  • requires presidential appointees to recuse themselves from government matters to which the president or their spouse is a party
  • ensures easy public access to lobbying information
  • requires the president and vice president to divest from any personal financial holdings that could pose a conflict of interest with their official duties
  • demands transparency for White House ethics waivers
  • strengthen ethics enforcement in the executive branch
  • requires more disclosure of political donations and fundraising by cabinet members and other senior appointees
  • makes presidents-elect adopt and enforce ethics rules for their transition teams
  • requires all senior executive branch appointees to take an ethics pledge
  • restricts travel on private aircraft by cabinet members and other senior appointees
  • makes Members of Congress pay any awards or settlements in connection to claims of workplace harassment
  • prohibits House members from serving on the boards of for-profit companies
  • bars Members of Congress and staff from trying to make laws to make themselves rich
  • requires candidates to disclose if they get donations from registered lobbyists
  • creates a searchable, public online portal for all reports to Congress
  • requires reporting of outside compensation for congressional staff

What is the Declaration for American Democracy?

A Coalition of 200+ Member Organizations

The Declaration for American Democracy is an anti-oppression coalition working together to make the promise of democracy real for all of us.

We believe our democratic systems, institutions, and leaders must reflect, represent, and respect the diverse, multicultural nation that we are and have always been. For democracy to work for all of us, it must include all of us and address the deep systemic, institutional challenges that continue to block meaningful progress to this day. As America’s diversity continues to grow, so must our democracy.

Our Mission

Today our democracy faces crises on multiple fronts -- compounded by a deeply problematic history that has held us back from achieving an inclusive and equitable multiracial  nation since our founding. Powerful corporations and wealthy special interests use their money and influence to shape public policy priorities. Extremist politicians are putting up deliberate barriers to block access to the ballot box and silence the voices of Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI, low-income, LGBTQIA, disability, and other marginalized communities. State legislatures are manipulating Congressional maps to allow politicians to pick their voters and hoard power for their political parties. And our government has failed to respond after four years of a corrupt administration and Supreme Court decisions gutting voting rights protections and anti-corruption laws.

Working together, we are committed to passing national standards, including the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood, to transform our political system and move our country closer to realizing the true promise of democracy. However, we will not be satisfied with any single reform and will continue to press for the structural changes necessary to rebalance power for the people and undo the historic harms that have barred communities that have been marginalized and denied political power since the founding of the United States.

We believe people of color, young people, people with disabilities, language minorities, and other historically disenfranchised communities should have equal access to the ballot and be equitably represented in government. We believe everyday people should have a stronger voice in elections than wealthy donors and special interests. And we believe our government should be transparent and accountable to the people.

Together we must ensure the freedom to vote is a fundamental American right and that the people -- regardless of our color, our background, or our zip code - hold the power, not the wealthy and corporations.

Our Vision

Therefore, we, the Declaration for American Democracy, are committed to working together to achieve this vision and model our values in how we work together. As a coalition, we will invest in each other and treat each other with respect. We will acknowledge and learn from our past, including the legacy of racism and white supremacy in our movement and democratic institutions. In decision making we will center Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI, LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, language minorities, as well as other impacted communities. And we will invest in each other through professional development, collaborative grantmaking, and shared projects.

Our 200+ Member Organizations

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