The bill would give the Justice Department, citizens and political parties, among others, the opportunity to file lawsuits that question the cards of Congress.
Some attempts to undermine elections
The bill also has sections dealing with attempts to undermine a federal election, primarily targeting attacks on election administrators and vote counting. One provision makes it more difficult to remove local election officials, giving a removed official the right to sue and giving the federal government the explicit ability to intervene in lawsuits to try and stop the removal.
The bill makes it an explicit crime to “intimidate, threaten, coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce” election workers with the intent to impede, intimidate, or hinder any such officer while he is in the process of carrying out official duties, or with the intent to retaliate against such officer for the discharge of official duties.”
It requires the use of paper ballots in most voting systems and requires most voting equipment not to be connected to the internet.
The bill adds a so-called “buffer rule” that requires poll watchers not to come within 2 meters of voters or ballots at polling sites, and it extends that buffer to ballots “any time the processing, scanning, tabulation, recruiting, or certifying voting results takes place.”
And the package also calls on state election officials to draw up a long list of rules about how election audits should be conducted, rather than the ad-hoc election reviews that Republicans launched in a number of states after the 2020 election.
Public funding of campaigns and requiring more disclosure of ‘dark money’
Voting rules have received most of the attention in this bill, but the legislation also proposes sweeping changes to federal campaign finance law in the United States. It includes the DISCLOSE Act, which would force a slew of politically active nonprofits — which can keep their donors secret under current law — to disclose their funders. It would also apply disclosure requirements to groups that spend to support or oppose federal judicial nominations, and it imposes stricter bans on foreign campaign contributions.
A separate section of the mega bill called the “Honest Ads Act” would expand the requirements for the “abide by your ad” provisions — for example, “I’m Zach Montellaro, and I approve this post” — to apply to more digital ads, and would generally require online platforms to maintain a database of purchased political ads.
The bill would also create several public funding programs for the House of Representatives elections. One is titled the “Optional Democracy Credit Program,” which allows states to opt for a program that would give voters about $25 “democracy credit” to give to a candidate. The bill separately creates a 6-to-1 public matching program for small-dollar donors with house candidates. Republicans have notably vocally opposed these provisions.