Our right to vote is even more important during a national emergency.
Unless things change drastically before November, many Americans will be forced to choose between exercising that right and contracting COVID-19 at the polls.
This excellent video from our partners at Eleven Films sums up the issue:
The GOP & President Trump just greenlighted $500 billion for corporations impacted by COVID-19, but when Democrats wanted $2 billion in funding for states to safeguard 2020, that price tag was too high for McConnell.
Unfortunately, the massive, $2 trillion “Phase 3” stimulus package included only $400 million to help states secure the November elections, despite the incredibly disruptive and dangerous COVID-19 crisis.
“State and local officials need at least $2 billion to prepare, an amount that would cover the equipment, supplies, staffing, training and the other costs of adapting our voting processes to withstand the coronavirus.”Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University
Even more importantly, the bill doesn’t do anything to require that states offer no-excuse absentee voting / vote-by-mail to all citizens.
No American should have to go to a polling place this November in order to cast a ballot. Not during a pandemic.
Currently, nearly a third of states still require an excuse for voting absentee, and many put up roadblocks wherever they can. Not this year. Not this election.
Coalition Calls for Action
DemCast proudly joined our allies at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in sending a letter to Congress, signed by over 150 organizations, calling for at least $2 billion in funding to be allocated toward essential measures including:
- an extended early in-person voting period (allowing citizens to vote over an expanded period rather than in a cluster on Election Day);
- no-excuse absentee voting-by-mail (including a number of options by which to request and return ballots);
- expanded voter registration options (including online voter registration and same-day voter registration);
- prohibition of polling place adjustments that disproportionately impact vulnerable populations such as people of color, limited-English proficient citizens, people with disabilities, and students;
- voter education (informing the public of new practices and immediately quashing disinformation as it arises).
We need to act now to ensure Americans have a safe and secure way to vote in November.
Here are a few actions you can take today to help secure this funding.
- Call your U.S. Congresspeople and ask them to support funding for elections adaptations like vote-by-mail in future stimulus packages. The best way to do this is to demand inclusion of the Wyden-Klobuchar NDEBA bill (described below). Call this number to get connected: (202) 224-3121.
- Post across all social media channels. We have made it simple to share across all social media channels.
- Send an email to your Representative asking them to Protect Our Elections.
- Visit this resource page created by Postcards4USA, which has a complete state-by-state rundown of how to request an absentee ballot, including links. Share this resource. Advocate to your state legislature for changes to state laws.
Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act (NDEBA) of 2020
Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota have introduced the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act (NDEBA) of 2020.
Here is what the bill does:
- Expand early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail to all states.
- Require states and jurisdictions to establish a publicly available contingency plan to enable eligible Americans to vote in the case of an emergency.
- Require the Election Assistance Commission to create a domestic version of the federal write-in absentee ballot.
- Require that all states provide envelopes with prepaid postage to all voters who request a voter registration application, absentee ballot application, or absentee ballot, and require that all states offer and accept online absentee ballot applications.
- Require absentee ballots to be counted if postmarked or signed before the close of the polls on Election Day.
- Provide money to states to implement these reforms.