ACLU Endorses Senator Harris’ VoteSafe Act

May 15, 2020 11:30 am

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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter urging members of Congress to co-sponsor the VoteSafe Act, a bill that safeguards Americans’ ability to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to pass the legislation as a freestanding bill or as an inclusion in a relief package. The VoteSafe Act was introduced by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Congressman Jim Clyburn (SC-06).

The legislation sets reasonable, uniform national standards for the 2020 general election for all registered voters to use mail-in absentee voting, a minimum early in-person voting period of 20 days, and provides $2.5 billion in funding to support states in these efforts. The bill also provides an additional $2.5 billion in grant incentives for states to increase the safety and availability of in-person voting and to meet the needs of voters who will face the greatest impediments to casting their ballots safely and reliably during the pandemic, including voters with disabilities, African American voters, language minority voters, and Native American, Alaska Native, and rural voters.

The following is a statement from Sonia Gill, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU:

“As we have seen nationwide in postponed or chaotic primaries, many states are either unprepared or, sadly, unwilling to address COVID-19’s impact on our elections. The images of voters waiting in rain and hail in the midst of the current public health crisis just to be able to vote, and reports of absentee voters who did not receive their ballots in time, are antithetical to American democratic values. We need baseline federal standards to ensure the safety of both the public and our democracy, and the necessary funding to give states the flexibility to meet the needs of their voters. The VoteSafe Act does this by helping to make voting safe and accessible for all voters, including those who will face the greatest impediments to casting their ballots during the pandemic. This legislation helps ensure voters will not be forced to choose between casting their ballots and protecting their health.”

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