Cantwell, Wyden, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Expand Voting Access, Allow Every American to Safely & Easily Vote By Mail
New legislation comes after record vote-by-mail participating in 2020 election; bill includes automatic voter registration and pre-paid envelopes for ballots
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today joined Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and 12 Senate colleagues to introduce legislation that would give every American voter the option to vote by mail. The Vote At Home Act would build on the advances made during the 2020 election, which saw record vote-by-mail participation, by massively expanding vote-by-mail ballot access, providing voters with pre-paid ballot return envelopes, and enacting automatic voter registration.
In the November 2020 election, nearly 50 percent of voters nationwide cast their ballots by mail, an all-time high. 30 states adopted or changed their laws for the 2020 general election, allowing voters to cast their ballots from home in order to provide greater accessibility and to protect public health.
“Mail-in voting has played an important role in American elections, and we can increase the participation the voting public if we give them the opportunity to vote by mail. It has worked in Washington,” Cantwell said in a floor speech in July 2020.
Specifically, the Vote At Home Act would:
- Promote the Ability of Voters to Vote by Mail – All registered voters would receive ballots in the mail weeks before Election Day, allowing them to carefully research candidates and issues well ahead of Election Day to inform their vote.
- Expand Options for Casting Ballots – All registered voters would have the ability to cast their ballot through the mail or a drop-off site. Voters residing in states with in-person, same-day registration would still have the option to vote at a polling station in lieu of voting at home.
- Fund the United States Postal Service – The legislation would provide the USPS funding to cover costs associated with mailing ballots both to and from voters in federal elections. This would allow states to save money by transitioning away from polling stations and reduce a major barrier for voters with the federal government absorbing the cost associated with USPS delivery.
- Enact Automatic Voter Registration – States would be required to ensure that each citizen who provides identifying information to the state motor vehicle authority is automatically registered to vote. Voters are given 21 days to “opt out” if they do not wish to remain registered.
In addition to Cantwell and Wyden, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined in the introduction of the bill.
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