We join the nation in paying our respects to Gerald Ford, the 38th president of the United States (1974-1977), who died on December 26, 2006. President Ford backed an ambitious array of electoral reforms. As minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Ford in 1965 voted for the historic Voting Rights Act. In 1969, he joined an overwhelming majority of House Members in voting for a direct, national vote for president; in his floor speech, he explained direct election was good for all Americans and all states and finished with: "Now, my final point is this: I believe that we ought to pass the direct method of selecting the President of the United States. If we do not, it is my honest opinion that the people will be let down." As president, he signed into law the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974.
In 2001, Ford joined with former president Jimmy Carter to co-chair a commission on electoral reform in the wake of the controversial 2000 presidential elections. Their final report, "To Assure Pride and Confidence in the Electoral Process," laid the basis for the 2002 Help America Vote Act. Additional recommendations in the report included establishing Election Day as a national holiday and restoration of full voting rights to all ex-felons upon completion of their sentences.