Voting Reform Needed STAT

Contributed by Deb Kline.

“THIS IS RIDICULOUS”

Sign held by a Milwaukee voter waiting to cast an in-person ballot after SCOTUS’ ruling declined to extend absentee voting deadlines.  

Truer words were never spoken. Never mind that SCOTUS met by videoconference to deliberate the issue. Never mind that the polling locations in Milwaukee had been reduced to five from 180. The current voting system (or should I say systems since each state is responsible for its own) is broken and the time to call for voting reform is now. 

We have witnessed a steady drumbeat of anti-voter strategies by those who wish to limit whose voice actually counts. Voting methods, requirements and technology vary widely from state to state and sometimes even within counties and municipalities. Numerous election security legislative proposals have been squashed. Polls have been closed or moved and voters de-registered without informing constituents. We’ve been stung by the defeat of the popular vote in favor of the Electoral College and by courts that have been politicized to favor the will of the Federalist Society rather than the will of the people. Did I mention gerrymandering? No, see the piece on REDMAP in this newsletter to add another log to the fire of outrage. 

We fail to foresee how much lower the depth of Republican political chicanery can go in their ‘winner takes all, democracy be damned’ approach. But it can, and it does. Blinders off, lessons learned the hard way tend to have a profound effect. Our grumbling has become a roar and Congress must take note

While the current rallying cry is that vote by mail must be an option nationwide. Trump has already signaled that’s not likely to happen from a federal level, saying that it’s ripe for voter fraud (side note that he intends to VBM because he’s allowed). Still, it’s only one piece of a larger puzzle to help ensure free and unfettered elections where everyone gets a voice. 

Currently, each state is in control of its own voting processes and mechanisms. While it may not be prudent to take total control away from the states, it may be time for a federal standard at least for the duration of this pandemic. The “I have a plan for that” former presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren outlines much of what was dismissed out of the third stimulus package, but calls for support in the next and upcoming legislation:  

  • Expand online voter registration so it’s an option in every state, extend voter registration deadlines as much as practicable, and let any eligible voter register on Election Day.
  • Make states provide at least 30 days of early voting to help reduce crowds and maintain access to safe, in-person voting.
  • Mail every registered voter a ballot and a postage-paid return envelope. That way, they can safely fill it out at home, send it back in, and participate in our democracy.
  • Ban states from purging voter rolls during this pandemic — unless a voter has come forward and said they want to be removed, or unless there’s objective evidence that their registration is out of date. And states must add voters’ names back to the rolls if they’ve already been purged.
  • Ensure equal access to the polls — regardless of race or ethnicity, language, tribal citizenship, or ability. That includes ensuring sufficient and safe polling places on Election Day, providing accessible ballot machines for people with disabilities, expanding voting hours, and allowing people to vote with a sworn statement of identity instead of an ID.
  • Provide no less than $4 billion in surge funding to states for election administration, compensate every poll worker (including providing hazard pay), and bolster election security.

CALL TO ACTION

As an activist, you have to be fired up. If you need one more reason to take action, consider this: Last week, Donald Trump claimed that if we made it easier for more people to vote, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Enough said? Use the extra time on your hands to demand that these emergency protections be included in the next coronavirus bill. Indivisible National is making it easy for us by providing the tools to get us started, including: 

  • Record a video to demand your senators include Elizabeth Warren’s election protection plan in the next coronavirus bill. Click here to make a video
  • Share our election security resource far and wide. Click here to view.

Friday, April 17th is an Indivisible Vote By Mail day of action. Mark your calendars and make your voice heard!

Additional Resources and Reading: 

Brennan Center for Justice: Why a Vote by Mail Option is Necessary

Heather Cox Richardson – particularly April 6 for background on Wisconsin’s primary voting debacle, but for a fantastic grounding in current and historical political movements, actions and consequences.

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