Washington, D.C. — U.S. military veterans are in a unique position to vouch for the reliability of voting by mail; after all, since the Revolutionary War, troops stationed away from home have used some form of absentee voting to make their voices heard while risking their lives to defend democracy.
A new issue brief from the Center for American Progress and VoteVets examines veterans’ unique and long-standing relationship with vote by mail, as well as the critical role the policy is playing in keeping veterans safe during the COVID-19 crisis. Nearly 50 percent of veterans are ages 65 or older, and many younger veterans have duty-related preexisting conditions. For these veterans, risking COVID-19 exposure through in-person voting may not be an option, which is why having access to vote by mail is so important.
“Veterans know the vote-by-mail system, trust the vote-by-mail system, and want to use the vote-by-mail system,” said Will Goodwin, director of government relations for VoteVets and himself an Army veteran. “When veterans take the oath, they swear to uphold our Constitution, which enshrines our democratic system of government. The ability to cast a vote is something many men and women have spilled blood overseas to protect and that many more have fought to expand here at home. Voting by mail is safe, it is secure, and there is every reason in the world for members of the House and Senate, who take that same oath we did, to expand it and make voting accessible to all—especially our veterans who rely on it.”
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, numerous states have already taken steps to expand access to vote by mail. However, most states lack the essential infrastructure needed to support huge surges in absentee ballots. States cannot afford many important upgrades, which is why Congress must provide them with immediate emergency election funding.
“Securing federal funding for expanding vote by mail should not be a partisan issue,” said Danielle Root, associate director of voting rights and access to justice at CAP. “Members of Congress already trust vote by mail for use by military service members stationed abroad. That trust should extend to all American voters, including many veterans, living on U.S. soil. For those who have served in the U.S. military, it should not be harder to cast a ballot on U.S. soil than it is abroad. Without additional federal funding, countless Americans, including many veterans, will be disenfranchised or forced to risk their lives in order to vote.”
Read the issue brief: “U.S. Veterans Know, Trust, and Need Vote by Mail” by Danielle Root and Will Goodwin
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at gro.ssergorpnacirema@lenanahs.