Voter Safety is Not Optional

Recap of Declaration of American Democracy Coalition’s Virtual Town Hall Kick-Off

By Zach Brown

 

What were you doing this past Monday night? Were you working? Were you spending some quality time with family? Were you sitting on your couch watching a fifth episode of your favorite TV show pretending not to feel judged when Netflix asks if you’re still there? I’ve definitely been there. Now let me tell you how I spent my past Monday night.

This past Monday, I, along with thousands of others, watched as Jana Morgan, Director of the Declaration for American Democracy Coalition (DFAD), hosted a virtual townhall to discuss the reforms needed to ensure that voting is safe during the COVID crisis. While the upcoming elections are special and important for a variety of reasons (see: the last four years), they are also unique because they are going to occur during a health pandemic. You can still watch a recording of the townhall, but here are some quick takeaways just in case you missed it:

For starters, universal postage-paid vote by mail is no longer just a matter of making it more convenient to vote, it is a necessary addition to our American democracy. As Senator Elizabeth Warren so eloquently put it during the townhall, this stuff is not rocket science.

However, as explained during the panel by Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, universal postage-paid vote by mail is only a part of the full reform needed for our upcoming elections. It’s just as important that we procure funding to expand the number of in person polling sites, increase online voter registration capacity, increase the time allotted to early vote, and provide proper sanitization and training for in person polling sites. Currently, Public Citizen and our allies are advocating for $4 billion to be included in the next COVID response package— a small price to pay considering it’s literally funding our ability to safely vote during a national pandemic.

Sadly, we’ve already seen the types of outcomes that can happen in the absence of these reforms. Debra Cronmiller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, detailed how Wisconsin voters were left unprepared and unprotected to vote in this coronavirus crisis and there were little resources available to run a safe election. We have to make sure that the events of Wisconsin never happen again. It’s time for Congress to act.

How can you get involved? You could start by contacting your representative! It takes just a minute of your time, and these calls are effective in showing these legislators that we mean business when it comes to proper election funding. (And who doesn’t want to urge Congress to support a good cause?) You could also write a letter-to-the-editor in your local newspaper.

If Congress can bail out Wall Street, they can bail out our national election system. Neglecting to fund our election systems in the midst of a national pandemic is like knowing it’s 20 degrees outside and refusing to let people wear jackets. And trust me, it’s going to be cold out there.

The Declaration for American Democracy will be putting on more virtual townhalls and you should attend and make your voice heard! These future townhalls will be focused in Maine, North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, and Georgia. For more information and a full schedule go to https://declarationforamericandemocracy.org/townhall/. See you there!