What is H.R. 1?

A primary tenet of our electoral system is the right of each state to choose how they select their representatives. Given the different political layouts in the country, it only makes sense that each state has different procedures for this.

However, a bill currently in Congress threatens to do away with much of this system that’s served us for centuries. H.R 1, ironically dubbed the “For the People Act”, seeks to federalize elections in a way we’ve never seen before. Much of this bill forces states to fundamentally change the ways in which they register voters and conduct their elections. It also forces each state to create “independent” commissions to draw their congressional seats, seen as an anti-gerrymandering effort. These commissions, more often than not, are independent in name only, consisting of members hand-picked by partisan state legislatures.

Donor disclosure is another major issue present in H.R 1, and it’s easy to tell why. In 2013, Senator Dick Durbin sent letters to multiple companies he believed were affiliated with ALEC, attempting to intimidate them. His intent was to then read the names into the congressional record, essentially creating a public target list for activists.

Eight years later, in 2021 with a Democratic majority in Congress, the playbook hasn’t changed. One of the most egregious parts of this bill is its outright assault on private donors’ freedom of association. H.R 1 forces all non-profits engaged in political advocacy to disclose their donors’ identities, similarly to federal campaign disclosures.


Who supports H.R 1?

The bill, originally introduced in the House, was originally sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat from Maryland’s 3rd District. Maryland is, ironically, one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. Since then, it’s been cosponsored by every Democrat currently sitting in the House, and all but one in the Senate: Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

The bill also has a great degree of support among corporate media, touted as an “important step in voting rights.” The Democratic voting base as a whole has also become incredibly motivated to encourage their representatives to support this legislation. Holdouts, such as Senator Manchin, are consistently attacked online and in the media for being against the bill, with Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman declaring that he’s become “The new Mitch McConnell”.


What are we doing about it?

ALEC Action stands firmly for the freedom of donors to associate with whoever they please, sans threats or intimidation. Therefore, ALEC state chairs have sent letters encouraging their federal delegations to oppose H.R 1. So far, 26 state chairs and 50+ state legislators have done so, with more to come. For more information, below are resources on H.R 1 and the case for donor privacy.