Stacey Abrams: Every Voter Should Have ‘Right’ to Vote by Mail

An Ocean County voter in Toms River, New Jersey, carries her completed ballot in an envelope on Nov. 5, 2012. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate believes that every registered voter should have the “right” to vote by mail and argued this week that the United States “is a nation built on voter suppression.”

When singer Janelle Monae asked her in a Monday Harper’s Bazaar interview about what must be done to “ensure that everyone still has an opportunity to vote safely” during the pandemic, Abrams said her voting rights organization has been working on this issue in “Georgia and around the country.”

“Number one, we know that everyone who is a registered voter should have the right to vote by mail,” Abrams said. “That means that we have to fix the states that have made it harder so every state in the nation has vote-by-mail.”

Abrams has been pushing Congress to fund various vote-by-mail efforts, including giving every registered  voter a mail-in ballot that is postage paid, and she railed against “really dumb” mail-in voting restrictions in some states:

What’s different is that 34 states say that anybody can do it, some with some really dumb restrictions, and there are 16 states that put restrictions on who can do it at all. The restrictions are often who can use it, when you have to return your ballot, if you can afford to return your ballot because you have to put stamps on it. In the state of Oklahoma, for example, they require that you have a notary public stamp your absentee ballot, your vote-by-mail ballot, and the notary can only do 20 ballots total. There aren’t enough notaries in the state of Oklahoma because the notary also can’t charge you. So there aren’t enough notaries in the state of Oklahoma who will do this for free, and stamp all the ballots that we’re going to need.

Abrams also spoke about the “responsibility” to battle “voter suppression” efforts because America is a country “built on voter suppression.”

“We have this responsibility to fight back against voter suppression because suppression is all about maintaining power for a small cadre of folks who have been afraid of sharing it from the beginning of our country,” she said. “This is a nation built on voter suppression. When we started, white men who owned land could vote. If you were Black, you were a slave. If you were a woman, you were supposed to be silent. If you were Native American, you were invisible. Then in 1790 we decided to shut the gates and say no one else can come in. So we’ve spent 230 years trying to reclaim the promise that was in our Declaration of Independence, this promise of equality.”

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