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Michelle Obama Announces New Vote-by-Mail Push
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=41599"><span class="small">Sam Levin, Guardian UK</span></a>   
Tuesday, 14 April 2020 08:20

Levine writes: "Michelle Obama has announced a new attempt to make it easier to vote by mail, register online and expand early voting, as states race to figure out how they can hold elections amid the Covid-19 pandemic."

Michelle Obama in Las Vegas on 23 September 2018. (photo: John Locher/AP)
Michelle Obama in Las Vegas on 23 September 2018. (photo: John Locher/AP)


Michelle Obama Announces New Vote-by-Mail Push

By Sam Levine, Guardian UK

14 April 20


The former first lady wants to make it easier to vote by mail, vote early and register online: ‘This shouldn’t be a partisan issue’

ichelle Obama has announced a new attempt to make it easier to vote by mail, register online and expand early voting, as states race to figure out how they can hold elections amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The former first lady announced the push through When We All Vote, a voter participation group she started in 2018.

The group will push lawmakers to give voters more options, including extended deadlines, for requesting and returning mail-in ballots free of charge or with prepaid postage.

It will also push states to give voters more flexibility regarding where they can cast a ballot during early voting. Such flexibility could be critical since many jurisdictions have had to significantly scale back in-person voting options as poll workers have dropped out over Covid-19 concerns.

“We know that barriers to voting existed before this crisis, especially for young people and communities of color,” Obama said in a statement.

“Expanding access to vote-by-mail, online voter registration and early voting are critical steps for this moment – and they’re long overdue.

“There is nothing partisan about striving to live up to the promise of our country; making the democracy we all cherish more accessible; and protecting our neighbors, friends and loved ones as they participate in this cornerstone of American life.”

Donald Trump has strongly resisted calls to increase vote by mail. The president, who himself voted by mail in March, has falsely said that casting mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud, which is extremely rare.

Trump has also said making it easier to vote would mean “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again”.

Republicans in Congress have strongly resisted efforts to expand voting by mail and other efforts to ease voting restrictions.

Obama’s announcement comes less than a week after a disastrous election in Wisconsin, where voters went to the polls while the state was under a stay-at-home order.

An unprecedented 1.2 million people requested absentee ballots, overwhelming election officials. There were several reports from voters who never received ballots in the mail, prompting an investigation from the Wisconsin elections commission and the United States Postal Service.

Without mentioning Trump, Barack Obama indirectly weighed in on his comments last week, tweeting that a pandemic shouldn’t be used to “compromise our democracy” and encouraging Americans to “check the facts of vote by mail”.

“Everyone should have the right to vote safely, and we have the power to make that happen,” Obama said in another tweet.

“This shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”

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