The proposed VoteSafe Act will provide nationwide early voting, expand vote-by-mail nationally, and improve the safety of polling places.
US Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) announced the VoteSafe Act, legislation that would expand voting options and improve the safety and accessibility of polling places across the nation. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need to protect and expand voting rights.
“So many have marched, protested, fought and died for the fundamental right to vote, yet that right is under attack,” said Harris. “The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the obstacles many already face when voting. Even before the pandemic, Native Americans, Black and Latinx voters, and voters with disabilities too often faced long lines, inaccessible voting locations, and outright hostility. I’m proud to announce the VoteSafe Act because the American people deserve a comprehensive solution to ensure that voting is safe and accessible.”
The bill is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), NALEO Educational Fund, National Disability Rights Network, Native American Rights Fund, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC).
“As we have seen nationwide in postponed or chaotic primaries, states are either unprepared or, sadly, unwilling to address COVID-19’s impact on our elections. The images of voters waiting in rain and hail in the midst of the current public health crisis just to be able to vote, and reports of absentee voters who did not receive their ballots in time, are antithetical to American democratic values,” said Sonia Gill, Senior Legislative Counsel, National Political Advocacy Department of ACLU.
“We need baseline federal standards to ensure the safety of both the public and our democracy, and the necessary funding to give states the flexibility to meet the needs of their voters. The VoteSafe Act does this by helping to make voting safe and accessible for all voters, including those who will face the greatest impediments to casting their ballots during the pandemic. This legislation helps ensure voters are not forced to choose between casting their ballots and protecting their health.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created extraordinary challenges for American voters this year,” said NDRN Executive Director Curt Decker. “The VoteSafe Act of 2020 will improve the integrity of our elections, ensure the health and safety of voters, and expand opportunities for people with disabilities to cast a private and independent ballot.”
The VoteSafe Act of 2020 would:
- Authorize $5 billion to expand vote-by-mail and early voting and to improve the safety and accessibility of polling places during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Require states to permit no-excuse mail-in absentee voting
- Require states to maintain an early voting period of at least 20 days
- Provide grants for states to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of polling places in the following ways:
- Ensuring that elections are accessible to individuals with disabilities
- Ensuring adequate protections for language minority voters
- Ensuring voting access for American Indian, Alaska Native, and rural voters
- Implementing and promoting curbside voting
- Implementing and meeting a maximum wait time standard or publishing current wait times for voters
- Providing for the training and recruitment of poll workers
- Improving access to voter registration.