By Maggie Miller
The Vote at Home Act would require all registered voters to be sent mail-in ballots prior to Election Day, guarantee that voters had the option to either vote by mail or vote in person at the polls and enact automatic voter registration for all citizens with driver’s licenses or permits.
It would be a significant expansion of mail-in voting.
“Our democracy is stronger when every American can vote, without standing in ridiculous lines or having to take time off work or school to exercise their Constitutional rights,” Wyden, who led over a dozen other Democratic senators in introducing the bill, said in a statement Thursday.
The bill was first introduced in 2017, but did not see passage. The lawmakers reintroduced it following a general election that saw a huge spike in mail-in voting due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, with just less than half of voters mailing their ballots in 2020.
Oregon is among the states that had allowed mail-in voting prior to 2020, and was the first state to move to voting almost entirely by mail. Wyden has been among the most vocal senators on election reform and security issues, including pushing hard over the past year to expand mail-in voting during the pandemic.
“To get the big things done that really improve Americans’ lives, our country needs the government to represent all Americans,” Wyden said. “Oregonians know that voting at home is a time-tested, secure and accessible way to vote. It’s high time the rest of the country had the chance to vote the way we do.”
“Last year we saw a widespread expansion of vote-at-home access as a safe and secure way to participate during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Blumenauer said. “We should continue to make voting easier, not harder. This important bill would strengthen and clarify the right to vote at home, the most secure and convenient way for voters to exercise the franchise.”
The bill is not the only effort by Democrats to widen the ability for Americans to vote. Democrats in both the House and Senate have reintroduced the For the People Act, a sweeping piece of voting reform legislation that would expand voting access and increase election security, among many other measures.