Oh, the GOP can be so predictable.
They’ve made it very clear that they suppress the vote because lower turnout helps ensure that Republicans win. They have enacted thousands of voter suppression tactics all over the country and then turn right around and say that it is all about keeping elections “safe.” Please.
Now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, when being very strict about social distancing is helping to flatten the curve, it makes perfect sense that all voters should be given the opportunity to vote by mail. And suddenly, right on cue, the Republicans are starting to talk about what a “disaster” voting by mail would be. The president went so far as to say voting by mail is “corrupt” with lots of “fraud,” even though–and this will come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention–the president himself just voted by mail in the recent Florida election.
The punchline here is that voting by mail happens everywhere already. It is incredibly common. Check it out:
5 states use all-mail ballots
All registered voters in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii and Utah automatically receive their ballot in the mail weeks ahead of the election. We fill it out at our leisure and then put them in the mail or a ballot drop box on or before Election Day.
26 states allow any voter to request an absentee ballot
Over half of the states allow their voters to vote by mail. The difference is that the voter has to proactively request the ballot, it doesn’t come automatically in the mail. As only one example, roughly 65% of California voters voted absentee in 2018. Do you live in one of these states? If so, learn how to request your ballot HERE.
*UPDATE: Now Pennsylvania and Virginia also allow any voter to vote absentee!
19 states allow absentee ballots but only with a “valid excuse”
Typically, these valid excuses are reasons such as you will be traveling out of state on Election Day, you have a physical disability, you will be working all day as a poll worker, etc. One of the big opportunities in the push to #VoteByMail with this group of states is to add the pandemic as a legitimate excuse for why people should be allowed to request an absentee ballot. Some states, like Massachusetts has already done this. For the latest status of voting by mail in these states, check HERE.
* UPDATE: Pennsylvania and Virginia now have no-excuse absentee voting!
Voters living overseas
And finally, we allow every American citizen currently living overseas to vote by mail. That’s all military personnel, government officials like in the Foreign Service or Peace Corps, and other citizens working abroad.
So, what’s next?
As you can clearly see, voting by mail is incredibly common. Every single state in the union is already printing and issuing absentee ballots for every election. The challenge ahead of us is to push every state (other than the first 5) to gear up and get ready to print, mail, and process a LOT more absentee ballots. For some states, this will require a lot of resources.
I’ll be talking a lot more about voting by mail in the weeks to come, so please do subscribe to Political Charge so you’re sure to see every post. There’s quite a bit we each can do to raise awareness and advocate for voting by mail to ensure every American doesn’t have to face the possibility of contracting the coronavirus to exercise their constitutional right to vote.