FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VOTESAFE: WE HAVE WORK TO DO BEFORE NOVEMBER
Washington, D.C. (June 10, 2020): Following yesterday’s elections in five states, VoteSafe Co-Chairs, former Secretary of Homeland Security and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, issued a joint statement:
Elections officials this spring and summer have faced unprecedented challenges when it comes to administering elections amidst the pandemic. From Wisconsin in April to Pennsylvania and DC last week to Georgia yesterday and certainly others, there are clearly opportunities to improve systems before November. Election administrators at the local, county, and state levels must act immediately and take seriously the threat of a second wave of Covid-19 to safeguard our elections this fall.
States took great strides in expanding access to secure absentee ballots which resulted in greater voter participation. We must be just as proactive about safe in-person voting to ensure that sites are plentiful and well-staffed to avoid long lines and overcrowding. Voters should not have to choose between protecting their health and practicing their civic responsibility.
VoteSafe encourages election administrators to make the following considerations leading up to the November general election:
People want the option to vote absentee: Voters opted for mail-in ballots in huge numbers, showing that they want the option to vote safely from home during the pandemic.
People want the option of safe, in-person voting: Many voters chose to vote in person – both on Election Day and during early voting windows. Whether it is tradition or preference, they should have a safe option to do so.
Absentee ballots must be sent out in time: Some states have experienced long in-person voting lines in part because absentee ballots did not arrive in time for people to vote in advance of Election Day.
There should be enough polling sites to accommodate safe voting: The public health situation poses special challenges for staffing and accommodating in-person voting, but states should take special care to avoid eliminating polling places and ensure that polling places are prepared to safely accommodate in-person voters and absentee drop-offs (where applicable).
Have a plan to count ballots: We know that a record number of voters want to cast absentee ballots – states must be proactive in planning for that influx. That could mean permission to begin counting before election day or additional staff to support the counting process. It is okay if results are delayed to securely count ballots, but states should anticipate and be prepared for an influx of mail-in votes.
VoteSafe is a cross-partisan coalition supporting the principles that all states and U.S. territories should ensure voters have accessible, secure mail-in ballots and safe, in-person voting sites, and Congress should ensure that states have the resources they need to protect their voters and elections.
In an open letter Ridge and Granholm call on election administrators to sign onto the VoteSafe principles.
For more information, go to VoteSafe.US.
VoteSafe is a cross-partisan coalition of elections administrators and organizations ensuring that every American has the right to vote safely and securely.