WASHINGTON – Earlier today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) joined U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, and Stand Up America for a press call urging lawmakers to pass emergency measures to expand no-excuse absentee voting, vote-by-mail, and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We can’t assume that our 2020 elections this fall won’t be impacted by COVID-19, and with several states announcing that they will postpone their presidential primaries, it’s clear that we need to take action at the federal level now to give states the resources they need to address the threat that COVID-19 poses to our elections this fall,” said Senator Coons, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. “Senators Klobuchar, Wyden, and I are calling on Congress to include funding to expand vote by mail and early voting in the third stimulus package, so Americans across the country can access the ballot box in November. No American should have to choose between their health and their right to vote.”
Last week, Senator Coons introduced the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020 with Senators Klobuchar and Wyden to expand no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail to all states, extend early in-person voting in every state to at least 20 days, and reimburse states for additional costs in administering elections during the pandemic. Senators Coons and Klobuchar also wrote a letter to congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, and Kevin McCarthy, urging them to include funding to protect our elections in the final stimulus package.
“Americans are facing unprecedented disruptions to their daily lives and we need to make sure that in the midst of this pandemic, Americans don’t also lose their ability to vote,” Senator Klobuchar said. “Some states have announced that they will postpone their primary elections, and many election officials have expressed concern regarding how this public health emergency will affect upcoming elections. We must take critical steps to provide states with resources to expand early voting and ensure that every American who wants to vote by mail gets a ballot sent to their door.”
“It will take smart, decisive action just to keep our democracy running,” said Senator Wyden. “That’s why Senator Klobuchar and I wrote the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act—to ensure no American will lose access to the ballot box as a result of this pandemic. Voting by mail and expanding early voting are the best chance our democracy has of weathering this storm.”
“Let’s be clear: The coronavirus pandemic is a threat to our health, our economy, and our democracy—and Congress’ response must address all three,”said Sean Eldridge, Founder and President of Stand Up America. “Lawmakers must act immediately to provide emergency funding to the states to ensure that every eligible voter can cast their ballot this fall.”
“We have fought for over 250 years, including a revolution and a civil war, for our citizens to have a voice in this democracy and a say in our future. Many have sacrificed mightily to strengthen and expand the right to vote; we must not backtrack—not in normal times and not in times of great crisis. It is especially vital for Americans to participate in the political process, particularly in times of upheaval,” said Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers President.“This is a comprehensive and serious plan to deal with voting, contoured exceptionally well to this particular pandemic. We offer a full-throated endorsement and thank Senators Wyden and Klobuchar as well as Stand Up America for working to make our elections more accessible, transparent and secure, so they can withstand whatever challenge we face.”