Democratic Leaders Push for National Vote-by-Mail while WA GOP Spreads Coronavirus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | May 4, 2020
SEATTLE — Last Friday, Washington’s Republican leadership continued to pander to their extremist fringe by organizing rallies to prematurely reopen the economy across the state on Friday, with even some Republican elected officials acknowledging the risk presented by these rallies: “[Republican Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie] Knezovich also told the crowd that the gathering had likely put everyone assembled, including him, at risk of contracting COVID-19.”
However, public opinion polling shows that these stunts organized by far-right dark money groups with ties to President Trump are not having a significant effect on compliance with stay-at-home orders.
Meanwhile, Democrats nationwide continue pushing for policies to keep Americans safe and gradually re-open our economy while following the advice of public health experts. Joining with her fellow Democratic State Party Chairs in Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Virginia in fighting for a fair national vote-by-mail system, Washington Democrats Chair Tina Podlodowski advocated in Crosscut this morning for any national vote-by-mail proposal to include ballot access reforms passed by Democrats in Olympia since re-taking the Senate in 2017:
“The only thing that’s partisan about mail-in voting is the way it’s been improved here in Washington state. Since Democrats took back control of the state Legislature in 2017, we’ve further expanded free and fair voting access through automatic voter registration, prepaid postage on all ballots and preregistering young adults so that civic participation is learned as a habit by every future generation.
That progress has made Washington’s democracy freer and more open, and it helped secure record-high turnout in our presidential primary, despite Seattle being one of the early epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak. Yet each of those milestones was reached over opposition from Republican leadership.”
National Democrats’ Push For Fair And Accessible Voting
“At a time when social distancing is paramount to staying healthy and preventing our health care system from being overwhelmed by new COVID-19 infections, it is the responsibility of federal and state governments to exhaust all possible options to ensure the 2020 election is safe and accessible for all voters. As Nov. 3 gets closer every day, it is crucial we prevent the shameful disaster in Wisconsin from occurring at the national level by adopting wide-reaching vote-by-mail programs.”
“Nobody should be forced to choose between their health and their right to vote. Republicans forced that choice on Wisconsin voters, and now they’re going after the rest of the country. In 2018, voting rights in Michigan had a big win. By changing the election laws so that we would have same day voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting, we increased access for voters. These changes have proven to be successful.”
“In the wake of the calamitous elections in Wisconsin that almost certainly exposed many voters to COVID-19, Minnesota Sen. Nick Frentz, Rep. Jamie Long, and I announced a plan to ensure nothing like that would ever happen in Minnesota. No person should be forced to choose between their health and their vote, so we proposed mailing every registered voter in Minnesota a ballot and mailing every unregistered Minnesotan who is eligible to vote a registration form, both with prepaid postage for return included.”
“Accessible in-person voting options must be expanded to include more vote centers, in addition to verifying that addresses are up to date, creating signature-matching operations, and translating mail-in ballots into different languages. Vote centers can operate safely and securely by ensuring proper sanitization, and spreading out so as to avoid drawing every eligible voter in the county to one location.”
In New Hampshire:
“We must examine what changes are now required to ensure the safety, accessibility and security for our eligible voters both in the short term in the coming election with the challenge of the COVID-19 crisis but also how over the long term these changes will impact and protect our voters and voting systems. […] With public health at the forefront of our minds, now is the time to act as follows to ensure every eligible New Hampshire voter is able to register and cast their ballot without putting themselves or others at risk.”
“When the foundation of our society is being rocked, we must ensure that the foundation of our democracy remains strong. Americans’ greatest asset lies in the right to vote. One of our other great assets is ingenuity and adaptability, and when it comes to expanding vote-by-mail programs, that quality is on full display. Without it, American’s voices would have no bearing whatsoever in our country’s response to the crisis and the shape our economy takes in the wake of it.”
“By opposing plans to make voting easier and more accessible, Republicans aren’t just admitting that their strategy is reliant on limiting democratic participation, they’re also forcing people to choose between their health and their right to vote. Nobody should have to make that choice. There’s still time to put in place plans at the national and state level to make sure our elections are safe, secure and reliable for everyone to participate in.”