WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers are considering strategies to make sure all Americans can safely exercise their right to vote in the age of COVID-19.
Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee say the federal government must help states expand vote-by-mail practices, so voters don’t have to stand in line and risk potential exposure to the virus.
“Every election, we say this is the most important election in the history of elections,” Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., said.
Kelly says this November provides an opportunity for Americans who have taken to the streets, demanding change.
“I just hope people exercise their vote,” Kelly said.
But the very act of voting is complicated by the pandemic.
“We need your help. Democracy is a team sport,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said.
Benson and voting right activists are asking Congress to support and finance vote-by-mail programs in all 50 states.
“Even in the midst of this moment, safe and secure elections are possible,” she said.
Benson says Michigan’s last election is proof.
“99% of voters who participated in the May election chose to vote from home. There were no crowds and there were zero reports of fraud,” Benson said.
Republicans and the president argue voting by mail invites bad actors to tamper with the votes.
“That is an opportunity for fraud,” Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., said.
Davis says he doesn’t trust Democrats.
“I just think this is a Trojan Horse that the Democrats in Washington are continuing to use to nationalize our election process,” Davis said.
Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., says Congress should help states make it safer to vote in person instead.
“We want every eligible American to participate in every vote. We just don’t believe the suggestions proposed by our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, in regards to our upcoming election, are in the best interest of maintaining the integrity of our next election system,” Johnson said.
Republicans say they do support sending more federal money to local election authorities to help them deal with the pandemic.