Washington, D.C. — A thousand public health experts have signed a letter urging Congress to provide states with $4 billion so that they can expand access to vote by mail and ensure safe in-person voting in November.
“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 letter says.
Congress and states need to act quickly in order to be ready for November, the letter says. As the number of positive COVID-19 cases trends sharply upward in many states this summer, social distancing is critical to keep the virus in check.
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 to cover the costs of expanding these options, including ballot printing, postage, dropboxes for absentee ballots, and appropriate security. Additional funds are also needed for secure electronic absentee ballot request technology, ballot tracking, and improvements to absentee ballot processing, including additional facilities and staffing.
“The right to vote should not have to be sacrificed or compromised to ensure our health and safety,” the letter says. “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.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has helped lead the push for Congress to invest more to expand vote by mail and early in-person voting, said the funds are critical to ensure the November election is safe and secure.
“In the midst of this pandemic, voters should not need to choose between their health and casting their ballots,” Klobuchar said. “Expanding access to voting by mail and early voting is not a partisan issue. As Congress prepares to provide states with medical and economic relief, we should also act swiftly to provide states with additional resources and pass my legislation to ensure that every American has a safe way to participate in our democracy during a national emergency.”
Read the letter here.
For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at gro.ssergorpnacirema@lenanahs or 202-478-6327.