Washington, DC: Today, Michelle Obama’s nonpartisan voting initiative, When We All Vote, announced its support for expanded access to vote-by-mail, early in-person voting and online voter registration to promote fair and safe access to the 2020 primary and general elections amid COVID-19’s ongoing impact. Every American deserves the right to cast their ballot safely and without unnecessary risk. “Americans should never have to choose between making their voices heard and keeping themselves and their families safe. We know that barriers to voting existed before this crisis, especially for young people and communities of color. Expanding access to vote-by-mail, online voter registration and early voting are critical steps for this moment— and they’re long overdue. There is nothing partisan about striving to live up to the promise of our country; making the democracy we all cherish more accessible; and protecting our neighbors, friends and loved ones as they participate in this cornerstone of American life,” said When We All Vote Co-Chair Michelle Obama. “If the U.S. expects to lead the world in conducting free and fair elections, then we owe it to our citizens to do everything in our power to make sure our elections are safe and fair for everyone. Our mission as an organization is to change the culture around voting and help increase voter participation in every election by closing the race and age gap. So it’s our responsibility to help all voters exercise their right to vote, and to give them the best information on exactly how to do that. It’s also our responsibility to advocate for fair and safe access to our elections,” said Valerie Jarrett, When We All Vote Board Chair. When We All Vote recently announced its support for the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020, which represents the organization’s first time supporting federal legislation. The reforms in the bill are aligned with When We All Vote’s three voting principles: Expand Access to Vote-by-Mail Vote-by-mail could be the only safe and secure option for some Americans. Voters should have more options to request, receive and return mail-in ballots and postage should be free or prepaid. Vote-by-mail would allow eligible voters to cast and return their ballot from the safety and convenience of their home. States should offer more options to request, receive and return mail-in ballots in a safe and secure way and expand deadlines for ballots to be requested and received. Currently, five states conduct all elections entirely by mail and twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia offer no-excuse absentee voting. Expand Early In-Person Voting While many Americans should have the choice to vote-by-mail, it is crucial to still provide in-person voting options, making them as safe and available as possible. The number of people voting early more than doubled between 2004 and 2016 – from nearly 10.2 million early ballots cast to 24.1 million. In the midst of COVID-19, early voting gives Americans who need to vote in-person the opportunity to do so while avoiding interactions with large groups and adhering to social distancing protocols. States should allow voters to cast their ballots at any polling location in their county by adopting “vote anywhere” rules to reduce lines at specific polling locations. Expand Online Voter Registration When We All Vote believes that for everyone to participate in elections, voter registration should not be complicated. Online voter registration is a safe, accessible and secure way for voters across the country to sign up to cast their ballots. It allows eligible voters to quickly and easily register to vote, and it meets the needs of many eligible voters, especially young voters. Online voter registration follows the trends of conducting government business online, which helps save taxpayer dollars while reducing errors and cleaning up voter registration databases. When We All Vote will work diligently to support these efforts and combat misinformation targeted at historically underserved communities to ensure that all eligible voters, volunteers, supporters and partners are informed about every option available to them to cast their ballot during this election season. When We All Vote will encourage Americans to:
- Take Action: Join the movement to advocate for these principles and ensure voters are educated about how they can register and vote.
- Get Informed: Learn about the voting policies in their states and get to know their options for registering and voting-by-mail.
- Share with three Friends: Let them know how to get registered to vote, vote early in-person or vote-by-mail. Check out these voter resources for more information.
- Call or email their federal legislators and let them know they support expanding access to vote-by-mail.