Last month, Klobuchar and Wyden joined by Coons, introduced the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020 to allow all voters to cast a ballot by mail and expand early in-person voting
WASHINGTON – On Thursday, April 9, 2020, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Ranking Member of the Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections, Chris Coons (D-DE) Ranking Member of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding the Election Assistance Commission, and Ron Wyden (D-OR) Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee held a call with a bipartisan group of Secretaries of State to discuss protecting voting rights during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Americans shouldn’t have to choose between their health and casting a ballot. And it is wrong to shortchange our election officials as we provide relief to address the effects of this global pandemic,” Klobuchar said. “So as Congress prepares to provide additional relief to the country, I am committed to getting election officials the resources they need and expanding opportunities for Americans to safely cast a ballot. No matter the severity of the threat facing our country, the most fundamental part of our democracy – our elections – must go on.”
“It’s clear that our 2020 elections are at risk, and we must act now to ensure that Americans across the country can access the ballot box,” Coons said. “That’s why Senator Klobuchar, Senator Wyden, and I are advocating within Congress to secure more funding and direction in the next stimulus package to help states expand vote-by-mail, early voting, and online voter registration, because it’s our responsibility to ensure that a safe and accessible election will happen. I was grateful for the opportunity to discuss this critical issue with a bipartisan group of Secretaries of State today, and I look forward to continuing our work together as we prepare for November.”
“There are 208 days until the election. Congress needs to do something immediately so that states have time to purchase the technology to scale-up vote-by-mail and early voting. Otherwise we could face total chaos this November,” Wyden said.
“Washington state’s vote-by-mail system is accessible, secure, fair, and instills confidence in our voters. Despite the coronavirus outbreak mounting during the last few days of our presidential primary voting period in early March, our voters still had an opportunity to cast ballots thanks to vote-by-mail,” said Republican Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, whose state was an early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Election officials, lawmakers, and other leaders across the political spectrum must come together to work on sustainable solutions to maintain access to democracy while keeping voters, election workers, and our voting systems safe. As states work to ensure every eligible person has an opportunity to vote in the upcoming elections, increased absentee voting and vote-by-mail must be options on the table.”
“State election officials know that it’s of the utmost importance that the wheels of our democracy continue to turn unabated during this crisis and into the future,” said Democratic New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. “Pro-voter policies like expanded early voting and providing eligible voters with vote-by-mail opportunities will keep voters safe and provide more access to our democracy.”?
The call highlighted critical measures that should be implemented by state and local election officials to ensure that everyone can safely cast a ballot during the upcoming primaries and in the general election.
Last month Klobuchar and Wyden, joined by Coons, introduced the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020, which would expand early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail to all states and reimburse states for all additional costs in administering elections during the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation has a total of 26 cosponsors.