Q86: Do you support restoring key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, especially Section 4 that was invalidated by the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision, to protect voters from racially discriminatory changes such as redistricting plans that marginalize the voices of communities of color, voter ID laws, and polling place changes?
Biden: Yes. I strongly support restoring the Voting Rights Act protections that were ripped out by a Supreme Court decision that falsely proclaimed that racial gerrymandering and racist voter suppression efforts were a historical artifact, not a fact of everyday life for voters of color across the United States. I have vigorously supported the Voting Rights Act throughout my career, playing a key role in securing multiple 25-year extensions of the Act during my time on the Senate Judiciary Committee. We need this civil rights law today as much as we needed it in the civil rights era. Last year, 24 states introduced or enacted at least 70 bills to curtail the right to vote. It’s just as un-American now as it was during Jim Crow. I will push Congress to restore and reauthorize the Voting Rights Act and I will direct my Justice Department to use every tool at its disposal to protect the franchise of voters of color in every state.
Buttigeig: Yes. I support the authorization of a new preclearance procedure under the Voting Rights Act to enable the federal government to block racist voting laws before they take effect. In addition, I will work with Congress to pass legislation that creates and enforces standards for voter roll maintenance to stop discriminatory voter purges, neutralizes the effects of restrictive voter ID bills by allowing people to vote with a sworn written statement of identity, and increases and enforces criminal penalties for people who try to interfere with a person’s right to vote.
De La Fuente: Yes.
Klobuchar: Yes. Senator Klobuchar has long advocated for Congress to take action to address the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down key parts of the Voting Rights Act. As President, she will restore protections for voters in states with a recent history of discrimination. Senator Klobuchar will also champion the Native American Voting Rights Act, legislation she helps lead in the Senate, to provide the necessary resources and oversight to ensure Native Americans have equal access to the ballot box and the electoral process.
Sanders: Yes. Bernie believes that every American, regardless of income, race, identity, or background must have the freedom to exercise their constitutional right to vote. To make sure every vote counts, we will Bernie will restore and expand the Voting Rights Act. He will also:
- Secure automatic voter registration for every American over 18.
- End racist voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering.
- Re-enfranchise the millions of Americans who have had their right to vote taken away by a felony conviction, including those currently incarcerated, as voting is a fundamental American right. What I believe is if you’ve committed a crime and you’re in jail, you’re paying a price. But you’re still a member of American society and that means you have a right to vote.
- Ending prison gerrymandering, ensuring incarcerated people are counted in their communities, not where they are incarcerated.
- Abolish burdensome voter ID laws.
- Make Election Day a national holiday.
- Abolish the Electoral College.
- Expand early voting and also make absentee voting easier.
- Ensure voting is accessible to people with disabilities.
Steyer: Yes. Many have died fighting for the right to vote and now, we take this right for granted. There have been strident efforts by the Republican Party to roll back the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Civil Rights Act of 1964 and disenfranchise voters of color — and particularly black voters — through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other actions that limit access. The For the People Act (HR 1), the Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Native American Voting Rights Act need to be signed into law immediately.
Warren: Yes. Right now, our democracy faces serious threats at home and abroad. Strengthening it requires major changes, so that each and every voice can be heard. I have a plan to strengthen our democracy that would establish uniform federal rules to make voting easy. Rules like expanding same-day and automatic registration and early voting, making election day a holiday, ending voter purges, and requiring independent redistricting commissions to end partisan gerrymandering. My plan will end practices that make voting more difficult and overturn every single voter suppression law that racist politicians use to steal votes from people of color. And we will pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Native American Voting Rights Act to shut down a host of festering discriminatory practices. My plan also includes a federal-state partnership to give states a strong financial incentive to follow these rules in their state and local elections – and to maximize voter turnout. If state or local election officials choose to ignore these federal rules and instead move to violate them, the new independent Secure Democracy Administration would have the authority to seek a court order to step in and guarantee that every voter has access to the polls unless or until the state shows its intent to fully comply with federal law.
Q87: What is your plan to strengthen democracy by placing reasonable limits on the influence of money in politics?
Biden: I will reduce the corrupting influence of money in politics and make it easier for candidates of all backgrounds to run for office. Specifically, I will introduce a constitutional amendment to entirely eliminate private dollars from our federal elections. This amendment will do far more than just overturn Citizens United: it will return our democracy to the people, away from the corporate interests that seek to distort it. I have advocated for public financing of federal campaigns since the very beginning of my Senate career, co-sponsoring legislation to create a public financing system for House and Senate candidates in 1973. While we work toward a constitutional amendment, meaningful change can be made by legislation. I will propose legislation to provide public matching funds for small dollar donations to all federal candidates. This will especially help first-time candidates access the resources needed to compete, freeing them to focus on interacting with voters, not high-dollar donors. During this time, I will also work to pass legislation ensuring that SuperPACs are wholly independent of campaigns and political parties, from establishment, to fundraising and spending.
We must also end the corrosive impact of “dark money” in our system. I will enact legislation to bar 501(c)(4)s from spending in elections – the same bar that applies to Section 501(c)(3) charitable groups. I’ll also lead reform of the Federal Election Campaign Act to ensure that any entity of any kind that spends more than $10,000 on federal elections must register with the Commission on Federal Ethics and publicly disclose its donors. See my plan for a government that works for the people at https://joebiden.com/governmentreform/
Bloomberg: Mike will work to eliminate the corrosive power of money in politics. As president, Mike will clean up the mess in Washington by making political reform a top priority.
Buttigeig: Yes. I will work to reduce the power of big money in politics and elevate ordinary voices. The economic imbalance in our campaign finance system results in a racial bias because wealthy donors are overwhelmingly white. We need to create a strong public financing system that matches contributions from small donors, so average citizens can run for office funded by their communities, not big donors.
De La Fuente: Yes.
Klobuchar: Yes. Senator Klobuchar believes that the surge in special interest cash in political campaigns since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision is undermining our elections and shaking the public’s trust in our elections. She will lead the effort to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and get the dark money out of politics. In addition, Senator Klobuchar has long pushed for meaningful campaign finance reform to ensure the voices of average Americans are heard. As President, Senator Klobuchar will push to establish a campaign finance system to increase the power of small donors that matches 6-to-1 donations of $200 or less to eligible candidates.
Sanders: Yes. The unchecked power of money in politics has advanced the causes of the wealthy at the expense of the working class and our democracy. When the top one percent and large corporations are able to push their agenda with unlimited resources, from advertising to lobbying to political contributions, the voices and concerns of the working people are drowned out. Bernie will end the influence of money in our politics and return to a government of, by and for the people. When Bernie is in the White House, we will pass a Constitutional Amendment that makes clear that money is not speech and corporations are not people, we will abolish super PACs, and we will replace corporate funding and donations from millionaires and billionaires with the public funding of elections.
Steyer: Yes. As a part of my structural reform plan, I recognize that corporations aren’t people, and they shouldn’t be controlling our politics. The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United must be overturned and the public financing of campaigns becomes the law of the land.
Warren: Yes. Corruption in Washington is holding back progress—and much of it is perfectly legal thanks to the Supreme Court. It’s time to get big money out of politics and put power back in the hands of the people—and I’ve got a plan for that. When I’m president, I’ll implement a comprehensive plan to permanently eliminate big money from our politics and return our democracy to the people. I’ll start by ending the corrupt system of money for influence. We must pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous decisions in Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo. But we can and must also pass new campaign finance laws to shut down corruption. My plan will end the corrupt system of money for influence by ending the practice of federal candidates taking corporate PAC money, banning foreign corporate influence in American elections, banning the consideration of campaign donations in the selection of ambassadors, closing the loopholes for single candidates super PACs and banning lobbyists from donating, bundling and fundraising for candidates. It will also enact strict contribution limits and disclosure requirements for inaugural committees because political spending doesn’t end on election day. My plan will expand disclosure of fundraising and spending by requiring the disclosure of major donors, bundlers and finance events in presidential campaigns, updating campaign finance laws to address online political advertising and bringing dark money into the light. And my plan will put power back in the hands of the people by establishing a 6-1 publicly-financed, small dollar, matching funds program for candidates and parties and lowering contribution limits to individuals and political parties. It would establish public financing for national party conventions, empower workers and shareholders to approve of corporate political activities and enhance FEC enforcement. You can read more about my plan to get big money out of politics here: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/campaign-finance-reform