With Election Day now less than two months away, Common Cause released its 2016 Democracy Scorecard that charts the positions of every member of Congress on issues vital to the health of our democracy.
Unfortunately, Congressional gridlock has meant that common sense reform measures like those in the Scorecard rarely come to a vote so sponsorships and co-sponsorships of bills make up the majority of this year’s list for the first time in Common Cause’s 47-year history.
“Americans have a right to accountable representation in Washington and voters overwhelmingly support reform of the current system,” said Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn. “Sadly, most of the reforms included on the list were never even allowed a vote. The scorecard is a tool we know voters will find useful to see where their elected representatives in Washington stand on a variety of proposed reforms that would do everything from requiring big money donors to reveal their identities and providing matching funds for small dollar donations to modernizing voting systems and ending partisan gerrymandering.”
Common Cause sent each congressional office several letters throughout the year listing the bills included in the Scorecard to make sure every Member of Congress knew which bills he or she was being evaluated on. Since the notices went out, a combined total of more than 250 cosponsors have been added to these bills.
“If enacted, the bills included in the scorecard would restore balance to our political system,” Hobert Flynn said. “They are common sense, tested and proven effective solutions to the most vexing problems facing our democracy.”
While co-sponsorship is an imperfect metric and doesn’t capture all of the democracy reform champions in Congress, this Scorecard can provide useful guidance to citizens concerned about the health of our democracy.
The bills included in the Democracy Scorecard reflect a comprehensive reform agenda that public opinion research indicates has consistently high levels of support across the ideological spectrum. With strong public support for these policies and voters prioritizing them as important in the 2016 election, there is a growing national movement emerging this year.
While the Scorecard looks at the 114th Congress, Common Cause and several allies are also encouraging voters to look toward the 115th Congress with the WhoWillFightBigMoney.org campaign. From the campaign website, voters can engage congressional candidates directly through email and social media, urging them to let voters know where they stand on the reform agenda. It is the people who have the power to constitute the next Congress and voters can use this Scorecard, and apply to the current campaign to decide who are the reformers in each party, and who supports the big money status quo.
The scorecard does not ‘rate’ candidates. Instead, it spotlights the sponsors and co-sponsors of legislation that would elevate the voices of everyday Americans in politics and government, make voting more accessible, end partisan gerrymandering so that every American has a reasonable chance to elect representatives of their choice, and promote high ethical standards for elected and appointed officials.
The scorecard includes:
- HR 20, which would provide tax incentives to encourage small dollar donations to congressional candidates and create a system of matching funds to amplify the voices of those donors and reduce candidates’ dependence on big money.
- HR 430 and S 229, which would strengthen disclosure requirements, bringing political spending by corporations, unions, super PACs and other groups into the open so voters can see who is trying to influence their votes and to whom candidates are beholden.
- HR 2143 and S 1176, which would repair the presidential public financing system, allowing candidates for the White House to run without relying on large, special interest contributions.
- HJR 22 and SJR 5, which would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and allow Congress and the states to pass laws blocking big dollar donors from drowning out the voices of everyday Americans.
- HR 12, S 1088 and S 1139, which would modernize voting systems, provide online voter registration and allow same day or Election Day registration, ensuring that the votes of military members and Americans overseas are counted.
- HR 2173, HR 1347 and S 2483, which would create impartial citizens’ commissions to end partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts.