Activist Alyssa Milano tweeted Thursday:
US can make voting safer during the pandemic. Don’t let Republicans stop it.
My latest op-ed for @CNN calling for ways to safeguard the 2020 election.
PLEASE read. PLEASE share.
Donald Trump made it clear from the beginning of his presidency that he’s willing to undermine US election results and make it harder for people to vote.
After he won, he made ridiculous, unsubstantiated claims about illegal voters allowing Hillary Clinton to beat him in the popular vote — even though he won the White House in the Electoral College. He launched a sham commission to examine voter fraud, then disbanded it when it didn’t find the evidence he wanted. And now, as Americans look to ensure they can vote safely during this Covid-19 crisis, he’s come out against vote-by-mail — even though he himself has voted by mail.
To back him up, the Republican National Committee has said it will spend $20 million to fight lawsuits aimed at making it easier for Americans to cast their ballots this year.
We need to be clear about what this is: voter suppression. It’s one of the only tools in their campaign toolbox — and like the Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin who forced an in-person primary without proper protection — Trump is willing to make voters choose between their health and their vote.
It’s outrageous and deeply cynical. And frankly, Republicans in Washington are also wrong about the facts.
Nearly 60 million Americans voted early or by mail and absentee ballots in the last presidential election. Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah — conduct all-mail elections. Oregon has done so for nearly 25 years. Members of our military have voted through the mail for over a century and a half.
States with vote-by-mail have elected both Democrats and Republicans. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, was the first senator elected in Colorado following the state’s decision to vote entirely by mail.
Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee are in office due to millions of vote-by-mail ballots in their home state of Utah.
Vote-by-mail is safe, time-tested, and secure — and doesn’t benefit one party or another, no matter what Trump says.
With a second wave of the virus expected to be even more devastating this fall, the urgency to implement options like vote by mail is increasing. Instead of wasting time jamming through more radical, anti-choice judges, Senate Republicans should side with House Democrats and support important voting reforms. The states must act too.
First, Congress must give states the funding they need to ensure they’re providing their voters with as many safe voting options as possible. The $400 million for elections that Democrats negotiated in the CARES Act is a good down payment, but it’s far from sufficient.
Elections experts and administrators have said Congress should pass at least another $3.6 billion to implement options to keep people safe.
If members of Congress can create a $500 billion corporate bailout,
surely they can spend $4 billion to bail out our democracy. Congress
should also specify that states need to expand vote-by-mail and early
voting options to all registered voters, as proposed by Sens. Amy
Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and
organizations like Let America Vote.
Second, states need to begin preparing now.
Fear of Covid-19 should be considered a legitimate reason for voting absentee in states that require a reason. Election administrators should include paid-postage return envelopes with absentee ballots and provide secure drop-off locations for them. With voter registration drives on pause due to social distancing restrictions, states should allow online voter registration.
Finally, even with vote-by-mail, there are many people who prefer or need to — or example, those with disabilities or those who have limited access to mail service — vote in person.