Sen. Wyden pushes emergency vote-by-mail measure over virus

Coronavirus

Senator Ron Wyden (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Senator Ron Wyden has introduced a bill aiming to preserve voter participation in upcoming elections amid fear of catching the coronavirus.

The bill, Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020, would require all states to offer an option for voters to mail in or drop-off a hand-marked, paper ballot. The measure would only be enacted if 25% of states in the U.S. declare a state of emergency related to COVID-19 infectious disease or natural disaster.

“No voter should have to choose between exercising their constitutional right and putting their health at risk,” Wyden said Wednesday. “When disaster strikes, the safest route for seniors, individuals with compromised immune systems or other at-risk populations is to provide every voter with a paper ballot they can return by mail or drop-off site. This is a nonpartisan, commonsense solution to the very real threat looming this November.”

The bill also requires states to offer postage prepaid self-sealing envelopes to voters. The Resilient Elections Act provides $500 million to fund emergency state vote-by-mail efforts.

Oregon is currently one of 34 states along with Washington, D.C. that offer “no excuse” absentee voting by mail.

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