What we’re proposing is neither radical nor untried. About a quarter of voters already cast their ballots by mail. In fact, all states offer some form of it. Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — vote almost entirely by mail. And these are states that have elected Republicans and Democrats alike; there’s nothing partisan about full participation. At the same time, both Democratic and Republican governors and secretaries of state have recently taken actions to make voting by mail more accessible during this pandemic.
It’s troubling that many states still insist on making it hard to mail in a ballot. Sixteen states require voters to provide an excuse to obtain an absentee ballot (though several have lifted that requirement for their primary elections); six states also require more than one witness, or a notary, to validate a mail-in ballot. Imagine trying to drum up witnesses — much less a notary — in the thick of a public health crisis. We need to do away with the hurdles and the back flips once and for all.
In addition to providing reforms and necessary funding to states to ensure safe voting by mail, our legislation would require every state to offer at least 20 days of early voting at polling locations.