Sewell cosponsors bill to allow voting by mail
Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-7) is cosponsoring legislation that would allow voting by mail nationwide, amongst other major changes to federal voting laws.
The “Vote-By-Mail Act,” H.R. 92, essentially takes the state system used by Oregon nationwide. The bill requires every state to provide registered voters the opportunity to vote by mail. It also institutes automatic voter registration program, meaning every citizen who provides identifying information to their state motor vehicle authority is automatically registered to vote unless they opt out.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) are carrying the bills in their respective chambers.
“Last November, once again, voters across the nation faced unacceptable barriers just to have their ballots counted,” Wyden told KTVZ. “This administration and special interests want to make voting harder so they can advance an anti-democratic agenda that rewards the powerful and hurts regular Americans.”
The Senate bill is cosponsored by: Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
In addition to Sewell, the House bill is cosponsored by Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Theodore Deutch (D-FL), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Adam Smith (D-WA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA).
In the vote-by-mail system, all registered voters would receive ballots in the mail weeks before Election Day. Ballots would be filled out, put in a “secrecy” envelope or sleeve and then returned in a separate mailing envelope.
A voter’s identity is meant to be confirmed by the signing of an affidavit on or inside the mailing envelope. However, the National Conference of State Legislatures acknowledges that this type of voting raises ballot security issues.
The National Election Defense Coalition has called voting-by-mail “easy and insecure,” adding that it “can undermine integrity.”
A portion of the bill was also included by the lower chamber in House Resolution 1, a package released last week at the start of the 116th Congress in a deal made between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the most liberal members of her caucus.
Monikered as the “For the People Act,” H.R.1 includes sweeping election and campaign finance reforms.
“The American people asked for reforms that give everyone a fair voice in our elections, and Democrats are delivering,” Sewell said in a press release.
She continued, “In Alabama’s 7th District, our families marched, bled, and died for their right to have a fair voice in our democracy, but today new strategies for disenfranchisement are keeping eligible voters from engaging in our elections. The For the People Act fights back with reforms to stop gerrymandering, strengthen campaign finance laws, and close ethics loopholes. As we begin work in the House to investigate voter discrimination and the state of voter protections in our elections, I am proud to see a commitment in the For the People Act to restoring the vote. There is much work left to do, but today’s introduction takes a big step towards building a government of, by, and for the people.”
Sewell is also cosponsoring two bills that would respectively give statehood (and electoral college representation) to Washington, D.C. and immediately restore voting rights to all convicted felons upon their release from prison, as opposed to the end of their actual sentence (probation period and other non-jail-time sentencing parameters).
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn