After a 15-year Effort, John Sarbanes’ Massive Election Overhaul Finally Gets Its Moment in Washington

Mar 2, 2021
In The News

John Sarbanes did not go to Congress to write a bill that could be the biggest overhaul of the U.S. election law in decades. The Maryland Democrat, whose 3rd District stretches from Annapolis to Towson, has focused much of his time in Congress on issues he cares about like climate change, gun violence and fair taxes. But the work was often affected by lobbyists and political action committees. “From the first moment I arrived here in Washington almost 15 years ago now, it became clear to me that the influence of money on how Washington works was a problem,” Sarbanes said. “And it was blocking progress on a lot of the issues I care about.” Sarbanes said he wanted to get to the root of the lobbyist problem he saw. The result is H.R. 1, also known as “The For the People Bill.” The 791-page bill focuses on campaign finance and election reform. It would touch virtually every aspect of the electoral process — striking down hurdles to voting erected in the name of election security, curbing partisan gerrymandering and curtailing the influence of big money in politics. Congress begins debate on the measure this week. Every Democrat in the House has signed on as a co-sponsor, and this week President Joe Biden’s administration announced its support.