Our vote is our voice in determining the future of our community and country.
Democracy is stronger when every eligible American participates. Working together across partisan divides and amidst a challenging crisis, Americans are creating a 21st-century democracy that works for everyone. Voters, whether regardless of their political party, believe in a democracy where everyone participates, their voice heard by their government and their vote counted fairly.
What is Vote-by-Mail?
Vote-by-mail is an idea Common Cause has long supported, and we’ve helped expand it in multiple states, dramatically increasing turnout in places like Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Now, it’s more than a good idea — it’s one of many reforms we’ll need to protect our democracy during this pandemic.
We need to expand vote-by-mail programs and absentee voting wherever possible. This includes mailing absentee ballot applications to all active voters. It is critical that if election administrators expand vote-by-mail programs, that the state has the infrastructure and processes in place to ensure voters aren’t disenfranchised during the receipt, verification, and tallying of a larger volume of mail-in ballots.
Can I vote by mail during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
In just a few short months, the coronavirus has become a public health crisis that demands clarity and cooperation. The response to the threat of COVID-19 is creating uncertainty and anxiety across the country, and we need to rise to the occasion so we can combat its spread while ensuring we preserve the right of eligible Americans to cast ballots come election day.
Vote by mail and early voting reforms have traditionally focused on ensuring that voters who can’t make it to the polls on Election Day because of work, school, family, health, or other reasons are still able to vote. But now there are even more important reasons as we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Voting by mail provides an important solution to both protect the public health and the people’s right to vote. That’s why Republican and Democratic elected officials and governors across the country are turning to vote by mail as a solution in this crisis – from Republican Governors Larry Hogan of Maryland and Mike DeWine of Ohio, to Democratic U.S. Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
As states contend with the economic realities of a global pandemic, however, we must ensure that they have the resources to take on these new reforms. Thankfully Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer are now leading the important fight for additional funding for our elections. In order to ensure voting is secure and accessible for everyone in 2020, we will need Congress to dedicate at least $4 billion in the next stimulus package. This funding will allow states to adopt systems that are the best option for their communities and voters.
The pandemic we are facing is challenging on many fronts, but we cannot let our elections – and by extension our democracy – fall victim to COVID-19. If we work together to advocate for and implement solutions like vote by mail and expanded early voting, we can help ensure that our democracy survives this crisis.
Can vote by mail be done safely?
As support for vote by mail has grown among voters and political leaders alike, it has also been the focus of misleading attacks by President Trump. So, let me take a minute to clear a few things up.
First, there is absolutely no evidence that vote by mail benefits one party over the other. It has been implemented in both Republican and Democratic states and has been deployed as an electoral strategy by both parties. In fact, GOP officials have openly admitted they used vote by mail as a strategy to help elect President Trump in 2016.
Secondly, there is no evidence to suggest that vote by mail is less secure than in-person voting. In fact, vote by mail is a paper-based system that is not susceptible to cyber-hackers and can be easily audited by election officials to make sure the election results are accurate.
This is all to say that vote by mail is a great solution so voters do not have to pick between their right to vote and their personal safety amidst a pandemic. But it can’t be the only solution. We know vote by mail doesn’t always work for everyone and every community. That is especially true for Native Americans, the disability community, and our neighborhoods who speak other languages, do not have reliable postal service, or move often. We also have to make sure that when states do expand mail-in voting options, they are doing it in a way that doesn’t lead to ballots being rejected or votes being suppressed.
Ultimately, even as we expand vote by mail options, we must continue to employ other ways to ensure voting access to all eligible Americans – by offering voters some safe in-person voting options if possible and by expanding ways for voters to engage with the voting process. That includes expanding early voting opportunities, promoting online voter registration, extending voter registration deadlines, and exploring more novel voting experiences like cubside, drive by, and mobile voting centers. These options, along with mail-in ballots, are common-sense approaches to protect the vote in the COVID-19 crisis.