Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky

Representing the 9th District of Illinois

Democracy and Voting Rights

A fundamental building block of our democracy is the right of American citizens to vote and choose their representatives.  We must do everything in our power to make sure that citizens maintain their voice in our society so that government works for the interests of all Americans, not just those who can afford to make large campaign contributions.

I believe that we must take every step possible to encourage participation in the process and overturn laws and practices that place burdensome demands on citizens who want to vote -- including photo identification laws, bureaucratic limits on voter registration, permanent exclusion of felons, and voter harassment. Those policies are supposedly aimed at eliminating voter fraud, but there is not a shred of evidence that any significant voter fraud exists anywhere; instead these policies skew the electorate in an unfair way.  Those disenfranchised are typically senior citizens, minorities or students.

Several important steps should be taken to restore democratic principles in our elections.

The Right to Vote. I have worked hard to expand accessibility and integrity in the voting system.   I support a number of initiatives that would make it easier for citizens to maintain their right to vote and to make sure that their votes are properly counted.

Ending Corporate Personhood. Like many Americans, I was outraged to read the Supreme Court's decision in F.E.C. v. Citizens United.  Corporations are not people, and they do not deserve the same Constitutional protections as American citizens. I do not believe corporations should be able to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections. One solution is to amend the United States Constitution to overturn Citizens United and clearly state that corporations are not people and that spending money is not the same thing as speech. Those distinctions are necessary to avoid corruption, by limiting the role money plays in elections.

Disclosure. Disclosing major donors who contribute to ads, especially those that are inaccurate or misleading, is a major step towards holding accountable individuals who are attempting to influence our elections.   I am a proud cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, a bill which would mandate the disclosure of major donors to Super PACs to give the American people essential information about the advertisements they see or hear.

Public Financing of Campaigns. I believe that we must move towards public financing of campaigns in order to make sure that elected representatives respond to the concerns of their constituents, instead of moneyed interests. I am a supporter of several of these initiatives, and I will work hard to make sure the voices of average Americans are not ignored.

Together, I believe that these steps will result in a democratic system that is more honest, less beholden to the rich special interests and individuals, and more accountable to all segments of the American population.  

More on Democracy and Voting Rights

January 21, 2015 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Jan Schakowsky released the following statement addressing the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC:

“Five years ago, the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United set the stage for increased amounts of corporate and special interest money to be spent influencing our elections.  Elections are now dominated by large donors and Super PACs, instead of American citizens. Bottom line, the highest court in the land decided that money is speech and corporations are people.  

April 3, 2014 Press Release

Rep. Jan Schakowsky released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on McCutcheon v FEC.

“I am deeply disappointed in the majority’s decision further entrenching the bloated role money and large donors play in our elections.   Much like their other ill-conceived ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, five justices on the Supreme Court have handed enormous influence to the ultra-wealthy at the expense of millions of everyday Americans.    

September 21, 2012 Press Release

 

September 21, 2012

Mr. Speaker, This is Constitution Week — when we celebrate our fundamental rights as Americans.  Today, one of those most cherished rights --  the right to vote --  is under serious attack.

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