$3.6 Billion Needed to Make Sure Voters Aren’t Forced to Choose Between Their Health and Their Vote
WASHINGTON, D.C. – From Boston to Missouri, Arizona to Maine, activists in 14 states will mobilize on Saturday to urge the U.S. Senate to ensure a safe election in November.
Some will spell out “VOTE” with their vehicles, while others will form a caravan and hold signs out their vehicle windows. Still others will hold virtual rallies. The actions are designed to comply with social distancing necessary to suppress the spread of the coronavirus.
Activists will call on the Senate to adopt the election protection language in the HEROES Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 18, which requires that during an emergency, states must offer absentee ballots, and online and same-day voter registration. The HEROES Act allocates $3.6 billion to states so they can expand vote-by-mail, early voting and other important measures to ensure safe access to the polls. Congress already has sent states $400 million with strings attached, but $4 billion is needed. must send states and localities this money – now.”
In Fairfax, Va., and San Antonio, participants will spell out “VOTE” with their cars. Kentucky activists will do the same next week in Louisville — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hometown — when he is home during the congressional recess.
In Boston, Dallas, Kansas City, Long Beach and Syracuse, caravans of vehicles decorated with signs will call on the Senate to support funding for safer 2020 elections. In other states, such as Maine, activists will host online rallies featuring key local leaders calling for action. In Georgia, activists hosted an online event this week featuring U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop and several Georgia state legislators.
Events will take place asking for support from key GOP U.S. senators, including those representing Kentucky (McConnell), Colorado (Cory Gardner), Arizona (Martha McSally), Maine (Susan Collins), Missouri (Roy Blunt), Georgia (Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue), Iowa (Joni Ernst) and Kansas (Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran).
Many states lack resources to offer sufficient options for voters to safely cast their ballots. In five states – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington – all voters receive ballots by mail automatically, and most other states provide mail-in ballots to voters without requiring voters to explain their request.
Vote-by-mail should be an option for any voter who wants it, but it shouldn’t be the only option. Some need language assistance to vote, some people may not get their ballot on time and some people with disabilities rely on voting machines. Native Americans who reside on reservations may lack street addresses. Absentee voting can be made more workable for these communities, but every voter should be able to vote in person if they need or want to. That means that states must extend early voting, implement same-day and online voter registration, buy supplies to sanitize voting equipment and more.
Groups helping to organize the actions are Clean Elections Texas, Coalition on Human Needs, Daily Kos, Declaration for American, Democracy, DemCast USA, Fix Democracy First, Greenpeace USA, Indivisible, J Street, Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, League of Conservation Voters, Let America Vote / End Citizens United Action Fund, March For Truth Boston, Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, MomsRising, National Council of Jewish Women, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, New Mexicans For Money Out of Politics, Pax Christi USA, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Sisters of St. Mary of Namur, Stand Up America,Texas Progressive Action Network, Unitarian Universalist Association and Voto Latino.