If we want every eligible American to be able to vote safely in November, the next legislative Covid-19 stimulus package, pending now, must include funding for two non-negotiable items:


Expanding vote-by-mail (absentee balloting) to all who want it


Saving the US Postal Service from bankruptcy


There are many things up in the air right now, but our democracy must not be one of them. The experts, including the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan policy institute at the New York University Law School, agree that states need $4 billion to prepare for elections in the time of the coronavirus; otherwise, millions of voters might be disenfranchised.


Congress passed $400 million, but now must pass the additional funds to make sure we’re prepared for this unprecedented threat. In Milwaukee, a city that made little to no provisions for the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19, applications for absentee ballots rose from about 100 a day to between 7,000 and 8,000 a day. Further, only five of 180 polling places remained open because poll workers declined to staff them. Chaos ensued. Thousands of voters never received their ballots, while thousands of other ballots arrived too late to be counted. Masked voters stood in line for blocks and for hours, unwilling to relinquish their American cornerstone right to vote. They did so at grave risk to their health.


Voter fraud is often cited as a deterrent to vote-by-mail. However, states that have adopted the measure have shown it can be secure. Best practices are already in place in the states that have adopted the measure; these can guide uniform standards across states going forward.


Many steps (allocating personnel and resources, ordering supplies, developing educational materials) must be taken to build the infrastructure necessary to accommodate vote-by-mail. We need to get started.


A late-April survey by Pew Research Center reported that two-thirds of Americans expect COVID-19 to disrupt voting in November. To ensure no one needs to choose between their health and their right to vote, we must enable tens of millions more people to vote by mail than have ever done so before. For this, we must urge our legislators to provide funding for absentee balloting (the new coronavirus is the only justification needed), and the U.S. Postal Service, which must be in business to ensure safe and reliable delivery of our votes.


Let’s act now. Call Representative Womack (202-255-4301), Senator Boozman (202-224-4843), and Senator Cotton (202-224-2353). To safeguard our right to vote, and our democracy, ask for 3.6 billion dollars in the next stimulus package.