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Voting Reform Increases as the Pressure for National Vote by Mail Grows

Despite Republican opposition

WILSONVILLE, OR - NOVEMBER 1: Jaime Valdez casts a ballot from his home November 1, 2004 in Wilsonville, Oregon. Oregon voters can now vote by mail instead of going to a polling station. (Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images)

Despite Republican opposition, support for voting reform is gaining steam as the 2020 general election draws closer and the coronavirus crisis shows the flaws in many voting systems. After the disastrous primary in Wisconsin, it’s clear that the way we vote needs to change, not just in case we’re still social distancing in November (please, let’s hope we’re not) but because in-person elections on a single day in the middle of the workweek are fundamentally a bad idea.

One state, Virginia, has already implemented new measures to address the flaws in how we vote. Governor Ralph Northam signed measures into law yesterday that will make voting in Virginia much easier. The new measure will make election day a state holiday, remove the requirement of photo ID before casting a ballot, and allow early voting up to 45 days ahead without an excuse. This is huge.

“Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” Gov. Northam said in a statement released Sunday. “No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard. I’m proud to sign these bills into law.”

So, Virginia is for voters, but what about the rest of the country? Well, despite Republican fearmongering that vote by mail leads to fraud (which they claim only because they know they lose when more people vote), people overwhelmingly want at least the option to vote by mail.

According to Reuters, the recent poll “found that 72% of all U.S. adults, including 79% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans, supported a requirement for mail-in ballots as a way to protect voters in case of a continued spread of the respiratory disease later this year.” That’s understandable, because vote by mail should be national.

This news comes ahead of a new campaign and push for accessible voting led by When We All Vote, and supported by no less than Michelle Obama.

It seems simple, but it’s a revolutionary idea that all Americans should have access to early voting, online registration and vote by mail. When more people can vote easily, more people will vote and our government will better reflect the will of those people. That’s it. Republicans can try to fight this, and have for years, but COVID-19 has exposed the fatal flaws in the system and the new normal might make change at the ballot box inevitable. And that will be a good thing.

(via CNN, Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.