• The Voter Formation Project

The Freedom to Vote Act: A Compromise We Can Live With

Hey y’all!


Happy Tuesday. Today, we’re coming to you with a special edition blog post, covering some very special-edition news.


Bill co-sponsors Joe Manchin and Amy Klobuchar at a 9/11 memorial ceremony on September 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


We’ve talked before about the For the People Act-- a sweeping democracy reform bill that would expand access to voting on an unprecedented (and necessary) scale. We’ve also talked about the opposition that the bill has faced from in Washington, particularly from a certain seafaring senator*.


*ICYMI, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), lives on a houseboat, and we think that’s just a delight. Less delightful: his opposition to the For the People Act.


But today, Senator Manchin, along with a number of his Democratic colleagues, introduced a new piece of election legislation: one that has the potential to create meaningful, lasting change to the way in which Americans vote.


We’re pleased to say that the bill, known as the “Freedom to Vote Act” (we’re going to be calling it FTV, for brevity), officially has the Voter Formation Project’s seal of approval. Here’s why:


  • Early vote: FTV guarantees voters at least 15 days of early voting for federal elections, including two *entire* weekends.

  • Vote by mail: FTV ensures that all voters can request to vote by mail (in some states, mail voting is currently limited to those with disabilities or those on military leave). It also provides for a free postage system for returned ballots, and forbids states from requiring notarization (yuck) or witnesses to vote by mail.

  • National holiday: the bill establishes Election Day as a national holiday. Like, a day-off school and work national holiday. ‘Nuff said.

  • Same-day registration: FTV requires all polling places to allow voters to register to vote at the polls on election day (known as same-day voter registration) by 2024.


And those are just the little things. The Freedom to Vote Act makes a few of the big, sweeping changes that we were looking forward to in the For the People Act, including:


  • Creating and guarantees a “right to vote” in federal elections;

  • prohibiting states from making laws that are “retrogressive” in regards to voting - a.k.a., those that make it harder to vote; and

  • creates redistricting guidelines that make it *really* hard (like, almost impossible) for states to gerrymander congressional districts.


So, yeah, we’re onboard (sorry, we couldn’t resist. Fair winds and following seas, Senator Manchin).


Thanks for reading, y’all! Talk soon.


“American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” – James Baldwin