Wyden talks voting in the age of coronavirus


Bill would kick in if 25% of states declare coronavirus emergency

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Sen. Ron Wyden introduced a bill, the Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020, that would require all states to offer an option for voters to mail in or drop off a hand-marked paper ballot — but only if 25% of US states declare a state of emergency regarding COVID-19 or a natural disaster.

Wyden held a news conference Friday about this effort.

His Senate counterpart, Jeff Merkley, praised Wyden for his efforts in this and other vote-by-mail initiatives.

The possibilities the coronavirus pandemic will interfere with voters’ ability to cast a ballot is a “significant challenge” that needs to be addressed, Merkley said. “We don’t want people staying away because they’re afraid of getting sick or afraid of making other sick.”

He added it’s possible Wyden’s bill is “the sort of thing we can get unanimous consent” in the Senate. “It wouldn’t require states to do this but would give them full authority to do it.”

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