In many states, voters have the freedom to choose how they will cast their ballot: whether in-person on Election Day, early at a local voting center or by sending in their ballot securely through the mail.
However, in too many states, voters’ freedom is more restricted, and this can result in voters being unable to make their voices heard.
Whether it’s because of long or unpredictable work hours, because a voter needs to take care of a loved one, because a voter does not have transportation to the polls or for any other reason, voting-by-mail is a crucial way for voters to participate in our democratic process and have a say in the key decisions that impact their lives.
Furthermore, voting in-person can be a difficult experience for many voters. In 2020, nearly one-in-five in-person voters waited in line for more than 30 minutes to vote. Some states are even trying to restrict nonpartisan volunteers from passing out food and water to voters who must wait in long lines due to election officials limiting the number of in-person voting sites.
Even for voters who do not face barriers preventing them from voting in-person on Election Day, having the freedom to vote by mail is liberating. It makes voting more accessible, especially for voters who are busy and enjoy the flexibility it provides.
As such, no matter what our zip code is, voters in every state should have the freedom to vote by mail.
Voting-by-mail is a safe and accessible way to cast your ballot. The process itself is not new and has been proven to be safe and secure in both red and blue states alike.
Even before the 2020 election, when tens of millions of Americans voted by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic, there were 42.5 million votes cast by mail in 2018. Red states like Utah have led the nation in voting by mail, long before 2020. It continues to be an increasingly popular way to vote.
Before the 2020 election, Campaign Legal Center spoke with Mary Jane Arrington, Supervisor of Elections for Osceola County, Florida, and she observed that many voters like voting by mail and increasingly more voters vote by mail year after year.
Since vote-by-mail is popular and helps make elections accessible to Americans, equal access to vote-by mail must be included in national standards for voting.
Additionally, we should make sure postage for mail ballots is always pre-paid, so no one must pay to exercise their fundamental right. Voters should also have access to drop boxes to conveniently and securely deposit their ballots, and the U.S. Postal Service must ensure ballots are prioritized and delivered in a timely manner.
Congress must pass legislation like the For the People Act to ensure that Americans can vote by mail freely, safely and equally in all 50 states.