Elections and Voting

When the 2016 election spotlighted vulnerabilities in the American election system, Senator Wyden did the hard work of finding exactly how foreign hackers could attack our system, then came up with a plan to fix it: the Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act.

The PAVE Act was the strongest-ever election security bill introduced, requiring every American have the option to vote on hand-marked paper ballots, with stringent post-election audits. An updated version of Senator Wyden's bill passed the House, but Mitch McConnell refused to bring it to a vote.

Over fifty years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, Americans are facing new barriers to exercising their fundamental right to vote. Across the country, there are stories of long lines, inexplicable purges of voter rolls and new requirements that make it harder for citizens to vote. There is no excuse for accepting this state of affairs.

Thankfully there is a solution. Oregon has been voting by mail since Senator Wyden was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996, and went to all vote-by-mail in 2000. Since then Oregon has consistently had voter turnout rates that are among the highest in the country. Outdated voting systems are vulnerable to cyber-attack, foreign interference and even run-of-the-mill counting errors. That is why a paper ballot is so essential – it is an  “un-hackable” backup to verify election outcomes. And as an added benefit, studies have shown it saved taxpayers money to boot.

That is why Senator Wyden introduced his plan for national vote-by-mail. The Vote by Mail Act builds on Oregon’s system and bills he introduced in 2007 and 2010. It would allow every registered voter to receive a ballot in the mail. The federal government, through the Postal Service, would assist states with the costs of mailing ballots to registered voters. States can keep their current polling practices if they wish, but those states that choose a full vote-by-mail system will see their election costs significantly drop.

Senator Wyden is taking other steps to make it easier for all Americans to vote. He worked with his colleagues to introduce the Voting Rights Advancement Act that would restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. He also helped to introduce the Voter Empowerment Act that would modernize voter registration and increase access and accountability in our elections. Further, Senator Wyden cosponsored legislation that would end Donald Trump’s sham “election integrity” commission, the Anti-Voter Suppression Act, and he cosponsored the Democracy Restoration Act that would restore voting rights to people who did their time and were released from incarceration.

Senator Wyden has also been outspoken on the issue of campaign finance reform. Following the Supreme Court’s unfortunate decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon v. FEC, he joined with many of his colleagues to introduce a constitutional amendment that would strengthen Congress’s ability to regulate campaign finance. This amendment would allow for the regulation of the raising and spending of money for federal political campaign contributions and expenditures and would help to limit the increasingly significant role well-funded special interests are playing in our political process.

In 2013, Wyden and Senator Murkowski introduced the Follow the Money Act- the first bipartisan campaign finance reform in over a decade- to increase transparency in campaign spending.

Leading with Access and Accountability  

To combat the understandable frustration about the lack of openness and responsiveness in government, Senator Wyden has made transparency and accountability the hallmark of his public service. In an unprecedented step for Oregon, Wyden pledged open-to-all town meetings in each county in Oregon each year he serves in the Senate. Wyden has held more than 870 of these meetings. During his town meetings, he refrains from speeches, listens to the concerns of Oregonians, and answers questions. The "Town Hall Project," a non-profit organization that encourages more citizen involvement in government, awarded Wyden its 2017 Senate MVP award.