RICHMOND, VA - The Democratic Party of Virginia joined 50 other state Democratic parties today in sending a letter to federal officials demanding immediate action to make voting easier and more accessible while the COVID-19 pandemic requires Americans to stay home.
The letter, accessible here, calls on federal lawmakers to appropriate at least $2 billion to allow states to make the following improvements to their electoral systems:
- 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
- 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
"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," the letter reads.
The letter comes amidst reports that the pandemic could seriously disrupt crucial voter registration efforts. Democratic lawmakers in Virginia recently passed a host of bills to expand voting rights that will go into effect July 1. These bills will expand absentee voting and eliminate the excuse requirement, make Election Day a state holiday, remove the photo ID requirement, allow for automatic voter registration, and more.