WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) joined legislation to improve access to the ballot for Americans, advance commonsense federal election standards and campaign finance reforms, and protect our democracy. The Freedom to Vote Act elevates the voices of American voters by expanding access to the ballot box, ending partisan gerrymandering, protecting our elections from undue influence, and combatting secret money in our elections.

“Regardless of where you live in this country, you should have the same access to the ballot box and faith that our elections are fair and safe. Voting rights are the foundation of our democracy and it is our responsibility to stop voter suppression efforts and remove barriers to the constitutionally protected right to vote,” said Senator Baldwin. “The Freedom to Vote Act removes barriers that prevent too many Americans from participating in our democracy, while shedding light on the dark money in our politics and tackling the practice of gerrymandering that disenfranchises voters in Wisconsin and across the country. I’m proud to stand with the American people who want to prevent efforts to chip away at the cornerstone of American democracy. It’s time to pass the Freedom to Vote Act.”

The Freedom to Vote Act comes as state legislators have introduced over 320 bills in 45 states in 2023, including Wisconsin, to restrict voting rights. In 2022, state legislators across the country introduced over 150 bills in 27 states that would grant more power to partisan actors to interfere with or threaten election workers or processes. In Wisconsin, state legislators introduced 36 bills in 2022 that would allow the state legislature to politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections.

The Freedom to Vote Act will break down barriers to voting, safeguard our elections from foreign interference and dark money, modernize voter registration, prevent voter intimidation and suppression, and curtail gerrymandering. Among other key provisions to protect our elections, the Freedom to Vote Act would:

Expand Access to the Ballot – The Freedom to Vote Act creates baseline national standards for early voting, mail voting and voter ID laws, combatting the onerous restrictions that have been passed or proposed recently in states while expanding opportunities for all Americans to cast their ballots. The bill requires all 50 states to offer early voting periods for at least two weeks prior to Election Day, including on nights and weekends. The bill creates a national standard permitting no-excuse vote by mail for every eligible voter. The legislation also promotes a national standard for states that have an identification requirement for in-person voting, allowing for the use of a wide range of forms of identification (including electronic copies) and alternative options for voter validation.

Prevent Voter Suppression – The Freedom to Vote Act would directly respond to overt voter suppression that blocks Americans’ access to the ballot by prohibiting the dissemination of false and misleading information designed to deter eligible voters from casting a ballot. It would also establish federal criminal penalties for deceiving voters, while increasing existing penalties for voter intimidation. The legislation would also counter excessive lines which present an additional barrier to voting — most often for Black and Latino voters — by requiring states to ensure that lines last no longer than 30 minutes and restricting states from prohibiting donations of food or water to voters waiting in line.

Counter Big Money in Politics – The Freedom to Vote Act would take crucial steps toward overhauling our nation’s campaign finance system. The bill would curb “dark money” from undisclosed sources in federal elections by requiring any entity that spends more than $10,000 in an election to disclose all major donors. It would also extend campaign transparency requirements to internet ads, requiring ads to clearly identify their sponsors. The bill also tightens rules intended to keep super PACs and other outside groups independent of candidates from coordinating with campaigns. The bill helps ensure that the Federal Election Commission will investigate potential violations of the law without being stymied by partisan gridlock.

Modernize Voter Registration – The Freedom to Vote Act modernizes the voter registration system to expand automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and online voter registration to all 50 states. The legislation also protects against unlawful voter purges, providing safeguards to prevent unlawful, faulty, error-prone methods for purging voter rolls while allowing states to accurately maintain their voter registration lists.

End Gerrymandering and Ensure Fair Maps – The Freedom to Vote Act provides critical safeguards to end extreme partisan gerrymandering in congressional redistricting by banning partisan gerrymandering and establishing clear, neutral standards. The bill would require strong, uniform rules for congressional redistricting, including a ban on partisan gerrymandering and strengthened protections for communities of color. The bill will also ensure greater transparency in the redistricting process and add enhanced judicial remedies to ensure that discriminatory or gerrymandered maps can quickly be challenged in court and fixed.

Promote Secure Elections – The Freedom to Vote Act includes improvements to election security and measures to prevent subversion of the electoral process, requiring post-election audits and paper records.

Combat Election Denial Tactics – The Freedom to Vote Act includes new specific protections to counter tactics that arose after 2020, from attacks on election officials to partisan election “reviews.” The bill would increase protections for local election administrators and help prevent them from being removed for partisan or political reasons, or for reasons other than gross negligence, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office. It also increases other federal protections against intimidation of election workers. The bill would protect against partisan, post-election attempts to tamper with results by expanding the penalties for destroying or altering ballots.

The Freedom to Vote Act was led by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and has received the full support of every Senate Democrat for the second year in a row. Earlier this year, Senator Baldwin also signed onto the Preventing Election Subversion Act, legislation to institute new safeguards to insulate state election administration from partisan pressure and empower non-partisan local election officials.

An online version of this release is available here.

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