Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) this week said the coronavirus crisis should give Americans “the courage and encouragement” to change the way they vote.
Harris introduced a $5 billion plan that would require states to “permit no-excuse mail-in absentee voting” in addition to encouraging more curbside voting.
She told Rolling Stone that she thinks her bill is “doable” and, at the least, could serve as a template for states to adopt.
“This is doable. And I think that there are these moments of a crisis that give us the courage and encouragement to try something that actually may be better than how we were doing it before,” Harris told the outlet.
Harris announced that her VoteSafe Act of 2020 would:
- Authorize $5 billion to expand vote-by-mail and early voting and to improve the safety and accessibility of polling places during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Require states to permit no-excuse mail-in absentee voting.
- Require states to maintain an early voting period of at least 20 days.
- Provide grants for states to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of polling places in the following ways:
- Ensuring that elections are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
- Ensuring adequate protections for language minority voters.
- Ensuring voting access for American Indian, Alaska Native, and rural voters.
- Implementing and promoting curbside voting.
- Implementing and meeting a maximum wait time standard or publishing current wait times for voters.
- Providing for the training and recruitment of poll workers.
- Improving access to voter registration.
“So many have marched, protested, fought and died for the fundamental right to vote, yet that right is under attack,” Harris said in a statement. “The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the obstacles many already face when voting. Even before the pandemic, Native Americans, Black and Latinx voters, and voters with disabilities too often faced long lines, inaccessible voting locations, and outright hostility by election officials.
Harris, whom the smart money is on to be Joe Biden’s vice president, also said this week that “every single governor” should follow Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s (D) lead and make Election Day a state holiday while dropping voter ID requirements.