Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Senate Rules Committee will hear testimony about the critical need to upgrade election procedures to ensure that voters can participate safely and securely in the November election. This is a massive undertaking, and state election officials must receive $3.6 billion from Congress now—in the next stimulus package—to be ready for the surge in mail-in votes and to provide safe in-person voting.
Millions of Americans already vote by mail, and mail-in voting has been a trusted process for decades by military personnel serving abroad. Last week, 10 U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers who served in the armed forces sent a letter calling on Senate leadership to provide the necessary funds so states can expand access to the ballot box, including through vote by mail. They noted that nearly half of veterans are older than 65, and many younger veterans have preexisting respiratory conditions, making them vulnerable to the coronavirus.
“In unprecedented times, it’s critical we’re able to safely exercise the right to vote,” said Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), a former Army Ranger. “Millions of service members stationed overseas have voted by mail, and we know that vote by mail works. It is time to give states the resources they need to provide a vote-by-mail option so no American has to choose between their health and their right to vote.”
“When those of us who served took an oath, it was to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution—which is built on the bedrock principle of the consent of the governed, through free and fair elections. When we took off the uniform, we veterans did not toss aside that oath,” said Will Goodwin, director of government relations for VoteVets and an Army veteran. “We’re proud to stand up today, alongside the members leading this letter, and help strengthen our constitutional right to a free and fair vote. Our country is stronger when more people exercise their right. Especially in this time of the pandemic, our government must take any and all actions it can to ensure people have access to their ballot. The Senate must act.”
“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,” said Sam Berger, vice president of Democracy and Government Reform at the Center for American Progress. “Without this critical federal funding, countless Americans, including many veterans, will be forced to risk their lives in order to vote. Failure to protect free and fair elections dishonors sacrifices made by members of the U.S. armed forces who defend democracy abroad.”
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