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Wyden, Blumenauer reintroduce vote-by-mail bill

KTVZ

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer on Thursday reintroduced their bill to expand Oregon-style vote-by-mail nationwide and knock down the mounting obstacles that voters across the country are facing, just to cast their ballots.

The House of Representatives included a portion of the Wyden-Blumenauer bill in House Resolution 1, a package of pro-democratic reforms released Thursday.

“The House is doing the right thing by recognizing the value of vote-by-mail and the Senate should follow its lead. Last November, once again, voters across the nation faced unacceptable barriers just to have their ballots counted,” Wyden said. “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. Our bill sweeps away artificial roadblocks to voting and makes it easier for everyone to have their voice heard in Washington, D.C.”

“Our first priority should be to ensure our democracy is available to everyone, which is why this is my first bill of the new Congress. Our legislation removes barriers to voting and promotes Oregon’s highly successful automatic voter registration and vote-by-mail systems,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Access to the ballot has been under threat across America for too long. I am proud that the success of the Oregon model is now being recognized federally by paving the way for all Americans to vote by mail.”

Read the bill text here

The Senate bill is co-sponsored by: Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., D-N.M., Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

The House bill is co-sponsored Representatives David Cicilline (RI), Peter DeFazio (OR), Suzanne Bonamici (OR), Kurt Schrader (OR), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Terri Sewell (AL), Marcy Kaptur (OH), Theodore Deutch (FL), Jim Cooper (TN), Adam Smith (WA), Julia Brownley (CA), Salud Carbajal (CA) and Eric Swalwell (CA).

The Vote-By-Mail Act requires every state to provide registered voters the opportunity to vote by mail. All registered voters will receive ballots in the mail weeks before Election Day, allowing them to carefully research candidates well ahead of time. By providing the opportunity to cast ballots in the mail, voters will be able to avoid long lines at polling stations and won’t have to take time off work to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. The federal government, through the United States Postal Service, will assist states with the costs of mailing ballots to registered voters.

Building on Oregon’s automatic voter registration program, this bill also improves voter registration to reduce the burden on busy working Americans. The bill requires states to ensure that each citizen who provides identifying information to their state motor vehicle authority is automatically registered to vote.

Wyden and Blumenauer first introduced the Vote-By-Mail Act in 2016.

Background

Oregon became the country’s first all-vote-by-mail state in 2000, and since then, has consistently ranked among the states with highest voter-turnout in the nation. Oregon voting rates are especially high among young votersand in midterm elections, when turnout traditionally lags. Oregon’s vote by mail law has deterred voter fraud by implementing security measures such as a signature authentication system. Oregon’s system also prevents potential fraud by centralizing ballot processing in the county clerk’s office, rather than at various polling sites.

Vote by mail also has been shown to reduce Election Day costs by eliminating the need to transport equipment to polling stations and to hire and train poll workers.

Read the article on KTVZ.com.