Though COVID-19 has affected our lives and livelihoods in so many ways, we must work together to ensure that our collective response to the pandemic does not infringe on our basic rights—especially our democratic right to vote—during this election year. With important primaries underway, and the fall general election fast approaching, increased access to voting by mail will help protect voter rights as we contend with the impacts of COVID-19. The Wisconsin primary should serve as a lesson for the primaries and voting days to come. Let us make sure no one must choose between feeling safe and exercising their democratic right to vote
One of the most effective ways to ensure that voters do not have to choose between staying safe and exercising their right to vote is through increased access to voting by mail, which we strongly support as part of our endorsement of the People’s Bailout. We believe in an equitable response to COVID-19 that puts the people first.
Though we can’t predict what life will be like under COVID-19 in the months to come, the upcoming presidential election requires a different kind of preparation and infrastructure to make sure that the rights of all voters are protected, while also safeguarding public health.
Here’s why we believe voting by mail works:
- It already does. In fact, states like Colorado, Washington, and Utah already conduct nearly all their elections by mail. Others, such as Arizona, allow residents to permanently register to vote by mail. Additionally, new research shows that voting by mail is actually better for voters—and increases voter participation.
- It can help decrease crowds on election day. The more that people vote by mail, the smaller the crowds will be at polling stations on election day. This is important because we know voting by mail will not be viable for everyone.
- Voting by mail is politically neutral. Research shows that no political party specifically benefits from voting by mail, which means that it’s best practice for all eligible voters, regardless of party affiliation.
- Voter fraud is actually VERY rare. We know that there is often a concern raised that more voting by mail could open the door to fraudulent voting practices, but election experts remind us that election fraud is very rare and not a reason to discourage voting by mail.
- Voters want it. A recent Reuters poll found that over 70% of all U.S. adults support mail-in ballots as a measure to help safeguard public health during election season.
You may be wondering: what’s the difference between voting by mail and absentee voting?
Voting by mail means that you can vote by mail for any reason and without needing special permission. Surprisingly, in many states it’s difficult to qualify to vote absentee, even during a pandemic. Voting by mail would give all voters the option to vote in whatever way best supports them.
What You Can Do:
- Please join us in telling elected officials that the next COVID-19 response package must include funding that helps states take action to protect the rights of all voters, including increased access to voting by mail.
- In the meantime, if you are curious to learn more about absentee voting or think absentee voting applies to your situation, and you’d like to request an absentee ballot in your state, the ACLU has made it easy to get organized.
- Want to learn more about voting by mail? Our friends at VPIRG, who advocate on a range of environmental and human rights issues, have put together some helpful thoughts and resources. We also invite you to explore the ACLU’s page.
Let’s make sure no one has to choose between feeling safe and exercising their democratic right to vote. We stand in solidarity with you on behalf of the health of this and future generations.
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