From the Editors

The right to vote only matters if it’s enforced

The voting rights provisions of the “For the People Act” should be uncontroversial.

Assuring all citizens access to the ballot box was once—within living memory—a bipartisan pursuit. The landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prohibit racial discrimination passed Congress with a decisive majority. In subsequent years, Congress easily passed laws to improve access to the polls for the disabled and for soldiers and citizens living overseas. In the 1990s it easily passed the Motor Voter Act that required state motor vehicle offices to offer voter registration.

The explicit goal of these laws was to increase the number of registered voters and enhance voter participation. The assumption behind them was this: the right to vote is hollow unless enforced by rules that give people the practical means to exercise that right.

Given that legacy, the voting rights provisions of the For The People Act introduced in Congress in January should be uncontroversial. It aims among other things to bring voting into the 21st century by requiring election officials to offer online registration. It would require states to offer at least 15 days of early voting, to allow voters to register on the day of an election and correct registration information while at the polls, and to restore voting rights to felons after they leave prison.