RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — People could be fined for not voting in general elections if a bill recently introduced into Congress becomes law.
The Civic Duty to Vote Act was introduced to the House of Representatives on Monday. The bill is written by Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.).
The bill’s goal is to require each eligible citizen to appear to vote in each regularly scheduled general election for federal office. To be an eligible citizen, a person has to be registered to vote for an upcoming election.
If any eligible citizen is found to have not voted in the general election, a $20 civil money penalty will be assessed to these individuals.
However, the bill’s text allows Americans to get around the penalty if they are not registered to vote, are unable to vote because of an emergency, cannot follow the terms of the act because of religious beliefs, or if they are unaware of their eligibility to vote.
Additionally, a waiver would be available for citizens to apply if they cannot afford the $20 penalty or if they commit to performing one hour of community service.
If a person fails to pay the $20 penalty, they will face no additional penalty or any denial of government benefits, according to the bill’s text. Law enforcement agencies are not allowed to use a person’s violation of this act to conduct any further criminal investigation on them.
Now that the bill has been introduced into the House, it will have to pass a vote there. If that succeeds, it will have to pass a vote in the Senate before being signed into law by the president.
Larson is the former chairman of the Task Force on Election Reform. To read the bill’s full text, click here.