National Push Is On For Vote-By-Mail System In November

Mar 31, 2020

  Commentary: Today, 51 State Democratic Party Chairs from across the United States, the Territories, and Democrats Abroad released a letter urging swift action from federal and state elected officials to protect our voting infrastructure from the coronavirus. 

The letter from the 51 State Democratic Party Chairs reads as follows: 

We, the undersigned Democratic State Party Chairs, are calling for immediate federal and state action to ensure that every eligible voter has the opportunity to cast their ballot without the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19.

 The United States of America is simultaneously in the midst of an unprecedented global viral outbreak and an extremely consequential series of elections. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has halted virtually all public gatherings and rendered the act of leaving one’s home for non-essential reasons dangerous. As things stand, both of these acts are necessary for millions of American voters to uphold their Constitutional right to select their representatives. 

Every state is currently unprepared to address the seismic shift in election administration necessary to ensure the 2020 election proceeds during a pandemic and must start implementing these changes by mid-April. The funding is needed right now to protect the 2020 election. 

If left unchanged, our current electoral system poses a severe public health risk that could rapidly accelerate the spread of COVID-19 while disenfranchising countless voters and calling into question the legitimacy of our elections. Just like our healthcare system and our economy, our elections infrastructure will need a massive infusion of resources to ensure that elections can go on and every voter has access to the ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To remedy this untenable situation, we urge federal lawmakers to immediately appropriate at least $2 billion for state and local elections administrators to implement the following reforms:

  • a universal and easily accessible vote-by-mail system which should include:

  • provisions for free or prepaid postage,

  • allowing ballots postmarked by election day to count,

  • reforming any signature match laws to protect voters,

  • and allowing community organizations to collect and deliver voted, sealed ballots.

  • extended early voting periods to allow for in-person voters to practice social distancing

  • expanded voter registration options, including both online and same-day registration

  • voter outreach and education to raise awareness around these changes

  • prohibition of polling place adjustments that disproportionately affect marginalized communities

  • ensure that the millions of overseas American voters can participate fully in the political process

We recognize that these proposals are not made in a vacuum and that the debate surrounding electoral reform is mired in partisanship. However, we are also heartened to see political leaders setting aside party affiliation and acting in the best interest of our nation. As our government takes action to protect our economy from COVID-19, we cannot and will not allow our democracy to fall by the wayside.

Action to safeguard our electoral system cannot wait. In a matter of weeks, millions of Americans across several states will be asked to vote in municipal and primary elections, and they deserve better than the impossible choice between preserving their well-being and casting their ballots.

Federal, state and local policymakers and election officials need to act right now to protect the health of our families, neighbors and communities and ensure that our core democratic functions including elections can continue to function.

Ken Martin                                            

President, Association of State Democratic Committees

Chair, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party

Raymond Buckley

President Emeritus

Chair, New Hampshire Democratic Party

Christopher England

Chair, Alabama Democratic Party

Casey Steinau

Chair, Alaska Democratic Party

Aliitama Sotoa 

Chair, Democratic Party of American Samoa

Michael John Gray

Chair, Democratic Party of Arkansas

Rusty Hicks

Chair, California Democratic Party

Morgan Carroll

Chair, Colorado Democratic Party

Nancy Wyman

Chair, Connecticut Democratic Party

Erik Raser-Schramm

Chairman, Delaware Democratic Party

Julia Bryan

Chair, Democrats Abroad

Charles Wilson

Chair, District of Columbia Democratic State Committee

Terrie Rizzo

Chairwoman, Florida Democratic Party

Nikema Williams

Chair, Democratic Party of Georgia

Kate Stanley

Chair, Democratic Party of Hawaii

Evangeline Beechler

Chair, Idaho Democratic Party

John Zody

Chair, Indiana Democratic Party

Mark Smith

Chair, Iowa Democratic Party

Vicki Hiatt

Chair, Kansas Democratic Party

Ben Self

Chair, Kentucky Democratic Party

Kathleen Marra

Chair, Maine Democratic Party

Yvette Lewis

Chair, Maryland Democratic Party

Gus Bickford

Chair, Massachusetts Democratic Party

Lavora Barnes

Chair, Michigan Democratic Party

Bobby Moak

Chairman, Mississippi Democratic Party

Jean Peters Baker

Chair, Missouri Democratic Party

Robyn Driscoll

Chair, Montana Democratic Party

Jane Kleeb

Chair, Nebraska Democratic Party 

William McCurdy II

Chair, Nevada State Democratic Party

Marg Elliston

Chair, Democratic Party of New Mexico

Jay Jacobs

Chair, New York State Democratic Party

Wayne Goodwin

Chairman, North Carolina Democratic Party

Kylie Oversen

Chairwoman, North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party

Nola Hix

Chair, Northern Mariana Islands Democratic Party

David Pepper

Chair, Ohio Democratic Party

Alicia Andrews

Chair, Oklahoma Democratic Party

Carla “KC” Hanson

Chair, Democratic Party of Oregon

Nancy Patton Mills

Chair, Pennsylvania Democratic Party

Charles Rordriguez

Chairman, Puerto Rico Democratic Party

Trav Robertson

Chair, South Carolina Democratic Party

Randy Seiler

Chair, South Dakota Democratic Party

Mary Mancini

Chair, Tennessee Democratic Party

Gilberto Hinojosa

Chair, Texas Democratic Party

Jeff Merchant

Chair, Utah Democratic Party

Terje Anderson

Chair, Vermont Democratic Party

Susan Swecker

Chair, Democratic Party of Virginia

Cecil R. Benjamin

Chairman, Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands

Tina Podlodowski

Chair, Washington State Democratic Party

Belinda Biafore

Chair, West Virginia Democratic Party

Ben Wikler

Chair, Democratic Party of Wisconsin

Joseph M. Barbuto

Chair, Wyoming Democratic Party