Congresswoman Wilson introduced in June the Vote from Home America Act (H.R. 7118). The legislation calls for states to send an absentee ballot with a pre-paid, self-addressed return envelope to every registered voter for this year’s upcoming federal elections. Co-sponsors include Representatives David Cicilline (RI-1) and Mark Takano (CA-41).
“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of American life in the past few months. We have no idea how long it will endure or its long-term repercussions. This year, voters are poised to cast ballots in what may be the most transformative election of their lifetimes. They should not have to put their lives on the line to exercise this precious right,” said Rep. Wilson.
Thirty-three states, plus the District of Columbia, already permit no-excuse absentee voting. Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah conduct all elections entirely by mail. According to a recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll, 65 percent of Americans support voting from home and that number is likely to grow as the public health crisis continues to stoke fears.
The Vote from Home America Act would provide federal funding, as needed, to shore up absentee balloting infrastructures, and for all related costs, e.g., postage, high-speed ballot scanners and automated mail sorting systems, increased election staff to process mail ballots and ballot applications, online voter registration systems, public education campaigns, and mail ballot tracking software. To receive federal funds, states must contribute, at a minimum, the average of its total election expenditures from the last three regularly scheduled elections to be repurposed for absentee voting.
In addition, the legislation calls for the following measures:
• States must offer timely notice to any voter who casts a ballot in a federal election that is not counted because their signature is found to not match and provide a meaningful opportunity to prove that they personally cast the ballot.
• States must allow voters to have their ballots mailed someplace other than the mailing address on record and to request this change online, by phone, or by mail.
• Voters with disabilities, illness, or language assistance needs must be able to obtain assistance to complete and submit ballots from designated surrogates.
• States must provide secure lockboxes outside of voting sites for walk-up or drive-by-voting.
“I chose to use the term vote from home to title this bill instead of absentee or vote by mail because it conveys a sense of comfort and security in these uncertain times during which we’re experiencing fears about mingling in crowds or even just leaving our homes,” adds Congresswoman Wilson. “Forcing people to choose between casting ballots in person or not at all this year for fear of contracting the coronavirus at the polls poses an appalling dilemma that is both unnecessary and un-American. The ability to vote from home is the perfect solution for times like this.”