1,000 Public Health Experts Urge Congress To Fund Vote by Mail and Safe In-Person Voting in November

COVID-19 poses serious issues for election administration. 1,000 public health experts signed a letter to Congress noting the health risks posed by significant numbers of people voting in person on Election Day. As they discuss, however, there are commonsense solutions to address this problem: “In order to ensure the integrity of the electoral process and protect the public health at the same time, it is incumbent on our leaders to prepare for a Presidential election by mail, in which ballots are sent to all registered voters, to allow them to vote from home and ensure their health and safety in the event of a new outbreak of SARS-CoV-2.” The public health experts further state that “maintaining the safety of in-person voting will also be required for November 2020, as well as subsequent elections as long as SARS-CoV-2 circulates in the United States.”

But in order to make these changes to expand vote by mail and early in-person voting, the public health experts note that congressional action is needed: “The costs of this effort—for ballot printing, postage costs, dropboxes for absentee ballots and appropriate security, secure electronic absentee ballot request technology, ballot tracking, improvements to absentee ballot processing, including additional facilities and staffing—are estimated to total $4 billion and will require a Congressional appropriation to support this work.”

The experts conclude that there is time for Congress to act, but only if federal officials act now: “The right to vote should not have to be sacrificed or compromised to ensure our health and safety. If you act now, we can all vote without fear of acquiring or spreading COVID-19 as we exercise this fundamental democratic right in November 2020.”