How can I vote safely in a pandemic?
The coronavirus pandemic poses unique and daunting challenges to the 2020 election.
Fortunately, there are measures that state and local officials can take to maintain voters’ access to the ballot box, ensure the safety of voters and poll workers, and protect the integrity of election results.
States can extend voter registration deadlines and expand their online voter registration systems.
States can extend no-excuse mail-in voting to all voters. They can also make requesting, receiving, and returning a mail-in ballot as easy and convenient as possible.
Numerous election officials and experts have all said that expanding mail-in voting is the surest and safest way to conduct the 2020 general election in November.
Expanded mail-in voting is also largely responsible for why the Kentucky and New York primary elections held in late June went more smoothly (though they were by no means perfect) than those in Wisconsin and Georgia.
Even with expanded mail-in voting, there will still be Americans who need or choose to vote in-person.
To protect these voters and poll workers, states must keep as many polling places open as they can, ensure that they are adequately sanitized, and provide them with enough voting machines, ballots, PPE, and other resources.
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Expanding early in-person voting would also help reduce crowd size, wait times, pressure, and health risks at polling places on Election Day.
In order to avoid confusion and combat disinfor-mation, states must work vigorously to educate the public about voting rule changes, including how to request and send a mail-in ballot and the location of polling places for in-person voting.
These changes will not happen on their own. Elected officials must understand their importance and commit to making them happen.
You have a critical role to play in this effort. Contact your governor, state representative, and state senator to urge them to adopt these changes immediately.
You can also volunteer to be a poll worker during the general election. This will ensure that polling places are adequately staffed and protect more vulnerable populations, specifically the elderly, from risk.
The Brennan Center for Justice estimates the cost of keeping the remaining primary elections and the November general election free, fair, and safe for all at over $4 billion.
There is only one place which can provide this amount of funding: Congress.
Again, this won’t happen by itself. Contact your representative and senators today to urge them to provide the funding needed to preserve every American’s right to vote this fall.
Check out the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project, a clearinghouse for information and best practices developed to ensure that the 2020 election is administered safely and equitably for everyone.
The Brennan Center for Justice has a comprehensive list of policy recommendations for states and towns to adopt to ensure the safety, accessibility, and security of their elections. You can also review their breakdown of where state’s currently stand on their policy recommendations. You can also check out their report on the estimated cost of protecting the 2020 election.
Check out the National Conference of State Legislature’s brief on how COVID-19 has challenged our elections this year and the various ways states and the federal government have responded so far to meet these challenges. You can also read the NCSL’s thorough introduction of absentee, all-mail, and other voting from home options here.
Watch comedian John Oliver’s take on voting by mail (video contains strong language)
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