Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) acknowledged this week that some women and people of color may enjoy the tradition of in-person voting but asked them, especially black voters, to honor their ancestors and embrace new forms of voting like absentee and curbside voting.
“There are those who enjoy the tradition, and I completely understand why, especially for those who have been historically denied the right to vote — African Americans, women,” Harris told Rolling Stone. “So many of them know that people fought and died and bled for our right to vote. We have to start adjusting to new forms that make it easier because the greatest exercise of patriotism, the greatest exercise of the franchise, is to actually vote.”
Harris explained to The Root that black voters can honor their ancestors and “create a ceremony” around filling in absentee ballots:
I was just, for the second time, in Selma and walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with John Lewis. There is a proud tradition of going to the polls on election day…bringing the children of taking a picture…There are ceremonies associated with it. We have “Souls to the Polls and places where everybody after the church service gets on a bus and goes to vote and then goes back to the church for fellowship.
Part of what I’m saying again to use the pulpit is: ‘Guess what? You can honor the ancestors by voting by mail but we need to get people ready for that…You can still create a ceremony around it and have the kids around and maybe you know, have asked them questions and let them fill in the fill-in with you.
Harris this week introduced her $5 billion VoteSafe Act of 2020 that would, among other things, “require states to permit no-excuse mail-in absentee voting.”
Another solution Harris offered is “curbside voting” to make elections more accessible to people without postal addresses or those with disabilities:
I’m talking about, like, drive-thru voting like a restaurant drive-thru. Part of my bill would say that there needs to be, we need to have a maximum wait time standard. Right? And, and, and that we need to do that in a way that we can use technology. Google already has ways they can tell you if a store is going to be busy when you get there. Why not use that for voting?
Harris is one of the top frontrunners to be Joe Biden’s running mate, and she has been speaking out even more forcefully on voting rights in recent weeks.