Peace Action Supports Wyden-Klobuchar Bill to Protect Democracy and Ensure Safe Elections
Statement of Jon Rainwater, Executive Director, Peace Action, on the introduction of the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act (NDEBA) by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). This bill would help ensure that elections can take place in a safe and secure way throughout the pandemic and beyond.
March 19, 2020
Peace Action strongly supports this critical bill to protect our voting rights during this challenging time for our country. Right now, our elections, a key pillar of our democracy, are up in the air. Only by making voting by mail accessible to all people can we protect this sacred right. We must ensure no voter is disenfranchised simply because they are taking steps to protect their families and communities.
The pandemic shows us again that we the people have the power to impact life-or-death policymaking. But we lose much of that power without the ability to vote. No matter what, voting during this time will require that governments rise to the occasion. The federal government should provide the resources necessary to ensure open access to ballots by mail so no one has to choose between their vote and their health. Given the lead time it takes to plan elections, the time to act is now. Congress should pass legislation right away so states can start to implement alternatives to voting in person so elections, including the November presidential election, are not put at risk.
There are many things that states can do to protect their residents’ right to vote. These include making it easy to request mail-in ballots, giving generous deadlines for voting by mail, and providing plenty of safe places to drop off ballots. This critical legislation should be included in the next coronavirus relief legislative package.
Call the legislative switchboard today at (202) 224-3121 and ask your Senator to demand inclusion of the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act in the next coronavirus legislative relief package. Since this is an urgent matter phone call is best if you can get through if not you can try to reach them via email through their webpage.
Here are the provisions of the bill as summarized on Senator Klobuchar’s website:
- Ensure that voters in all states have 20 days of early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail and ensure states begin processing votes cast during early voting or by mail 14 days before Election Day to avoid delays in counting votes on Election Day.
- Guarantee that all voter registration applications submitted by mail or online before and 21 days prior to election day are deemed valid. Allow any state to have a deadline that is closer to Election Day.
- Require states and jurisdictions to establish a publicly available contingency plan to enable eligible Americans to vote in the case of an emergency and establish an initiative to improve the safety of voters and poll workers and recruit poll workers from high schools and colleges as well as from other State and local government offices.
- Provide all voters with the option of online requests for absentee ballots and require states to accept requests received before or 5 days prior to election day. Allow any state to have a deadline that is closer to Election Day.
- Guarantee the counting of absentee ballots postmarked or signed before the close of the polls on Election Day and received on or before the 10 days following Election Day.
- Ensure states provide self-sealing envelopes with prepaid postage for all voters who request a voter registration application, absentee ballot application, or an absentee ballot.
- Require states to offer their downloadable and printable absentee ballots under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) to domestic voters who requested but did not receive an absentee ballot for the 2020 election and to voters with disabilities who requested an absentee ballot and reside in a state that does not offer secure accessible remote ballot marking.
- Charge the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) with creating a uniform domestic downloadable and printable absentee ballot that can be used starting in 2022.
- Direct all states that do not already use ballot tracking systems to use envelopes with an Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) to allow voters to track their ballot for the 2020 general election and successive elections until a state implements a domestic ballot update service.
- Charge the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), in consultation with the General Services Administration (GSA), EAC, and the United States Postal Service to create a domestic ballot update service for election officials to provide voters with updates on their ballot for the 2024 election and beyond.
- Ensure states implement a specified signature curing procedure to allow voters the opportunity to address a signature mismatch.
- Provide additional accommodations for Native American voters including allowing tribes to designate ballot pickup and drop-off locations and not requiring residential address for election mail.
- Authorize funds necessary to reimburse states for the cost of implementing the Act, such as providing additional absentee ballots and prepaid postage, and purchasing additional ballot scanners and absentee ballot drop boxes.
- Authorize funds necessary to reimburse states for the cost of developing or purchasing and implementing secure remote ballot marking to enable voters with disabilities to mark their ballots at home and vote by mail.
- Provide $3 million in additional funds to the EAC for supporting states in implementing the Act.