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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/29/20

If Ever There Was a Time for Mail-in Ballots, It is Now

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The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to reconsider how we conduct our daily lives, manage our economy, and interact with each other.

After Congress passed a $2 trillion package to help mitigate the economic havoc, conversations about "universal basic income" (UBI) have resumed.

Another conversation we've been hearing lately since we are supposed to be confined at home concerns voting.

Obviously, if we aren't supposed to congregate in crowds of more than 10 and maintain social distancing, urging voters to show up at the polls is irresponsible.

In a nation with embarrassingly low voter turnout, being ordered to stay home threatens the nomination process, not to mention the general election.

So far Puerto Rico, Georgia, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Kentucky, and New York have already postponed their primary elections.

Some states are urging voters to apply for absentee ballots.

But instead of just temporarily adjusting to meet the current crisis, what if we addressed both the coronavirus's impact on voting and traditionally anemic voter turnout?

What if we used this crisis as an opportunity to institute real progressive change?

The possibly of voting by mail is one such way to accomplish this.

Those who have voted via absentee ballot already do this.

Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Senate counterpart Ron Wyden introduced "The Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020," intending to replicate nationwide what their state has practiced since being passed into law in 1998.

The bill calls for $500 million to help states prepare for voter disruptions the coronavirus may inflict.

Wyden and Minn. Sen. Amy Klobuchar also introduced "The Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act (NDEBA)" to allow all states 20 days of early voting, counting mail-in ballots submitted during 21 days before an election, and ensuring all voters have the option to submit absentee ballots.

Other states are taking notice.

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Ted Millar is a writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Straight Forward Poetry, Better Than Starbucks, the Broke Bohemian, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices (more...)

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