Klobuchar is the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections, introduced legislation today that would help Americans affected or displaced due to natural disasters maintain their ability to vote through a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). The Natural Disaster Emergency Ballot Act would ensure a printable online ballot would be available to eligible voters affected by a natural disaster.
“Americans who have lost so much following natural disasters shouldn’t also lose their ability to vote, nor should the honorable public servants who answer the call to help during times of devastation,” Klobuchar said. “We can’t prevent natural disasters, but we can ensure that when one strikes, those affected will still get the opportunity to make their voices heard at the ballot box.”
The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Angus King (I-ME), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tina Smith (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
The Natural Disaster Emergency Ballot Act would create a domestic version of the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) that is currently available for Americans abroad under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) by amending the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). An emergency ballot would be available to eligible voters residing in areas where an emergency has been declared, to those who have been displaced, and to professional or volunteer service emergency responders. In addition, anyone who expects to be hospitalized on Election Day, or isn’t able to receive a requested absentee ballot from their state or jurisdiction would also be eligible to receive an emergency ballot. The ballot would follow the same process of submission as absentee ballots in each person’s state/jurisdiction.
Throughout her time in the Senate, Klobuchar has been fighting to protect voting rights for all Americans. In February, Klobuchar and Brown introduced the SAVE VOTERs Act to amend the National Voter Registration Act to clarify that a state may not use someone’s failure to vote as reason to remove them as a registered voter. In February, she introduced the Register America to Vote Act, legislation to ensure that every state implements a secure process to automatically register eligible citizens to vote on their eighteenth birthday. The bill also directs states to allow voters who have been automatically registered, or who were previously registered to vote, to update their address through the day of the election and authorizes a $325 million grant program for states to implement their automatic voter registration programs and to improve their election security.
Klobuchar also leads the Students Voicing Opinions in Today’s Elections (VOTE) Act which would create a pilot program to educate high school seniors about registering to vote and help get them registered and the Same Day Registration Act to require states to allow people to register to vote on the same day as the election. In March 2018, Klobuchar and Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced the Support our Military Spouses Act. This legislation would reduce confusion and ensure military spouses do not have to establish new legal residency after every military reassignment.