CORONAVIRUS / COVID-19 UPDATE #12
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
I hope you are staying well and staying positive. We'll get through this together!
Today I have an exciting update about looking to the future: I crafted and filed legislation to create universal vote-by-mail for the 2020 primary and general elections in Massachusetts. The recent Wisconsin election and experiences in other states make clear that Massachusetts must act now to safeguard the right to vote during the unprecedented COVID-19 public health crisis. No one should be forced to choose between their vote and their health.
Here's how my 2020 Vote by Mail Act would work:
- For the general election, every voter would automatically be mailed their ballot. These ballots can be returned by mail with postage pre-paid by the state. If you do not want to vote by mail, you can still vote on election day, but we hope the foot traffic on election day will be reduced.
- For the primary election, every voter registered with a party will receive their party's primary ballot. Unenrolled voters may request a primary ballot for any party be mailed to them. Unfortunately, because unenrolled voters get to choose their primary ballot, they cannot be mailed automatically. Voters can also still vote in person on election day.
- The legislation also establishes election day as a holiday to ensure any polling places, like schools or town buildings, only have election related business occuring that day and to spread out the times when people come to the polls (usually there is a rush before 9 am and after 5 pm).
- The bill also requires that poll workers are provided with Personal Protective Equipment by the state.
Why now? We have no idea what the conditions will be this fall, and we must be prepared. If we wait to see what conditions will be like, it will be an overwhelming challenge to quickly make all the necessary changes to our elections systems.
Why do this at all? Free, open, and accessible elections are a central pillar of our democracy. We're facing a global pandemic that makes traditional in-person voting seriously concerning if not downright dangerous, so we must proactively pursue alternative voting methods. My legislation does this by expanding a process we already know to be viable in our Commonwealth. Under the 2020 Vote By Mail Act, every registered Massachusetts voter will receive a ballot that they can cast safely and securely, without jeopardizing their health or anyone else's, knowing that their ballot will be counted. COVID-19 must not strip us of our right and ability to vote; we must protect our elections, especially in times of crisis.
Want to engage in a conversation about this? Head over to Facebook and Twitter and get chatty. Details about the 2020 Vote by Mail Act, including bill text and FAQs, available on my website.
Yours in service,
Senator Becca Rausch