Two Democrat lawmakers introduced a bill on Thursday, dubbed the “Vote at Home Act,” to expand “Oregon-style” mail-in voting nationwide, contending that the move is necessary to “make real progress” in the country.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), is designed to “fight voter suppression” as detailed by Wyden’s press release. The measure would “massively expand vote-at-home ballot access, provide voters with pre-paid ballot envelopes and enact automatic voter registration.”
The lawmakers point to the unprecedented number of Americans who voted by mail in the 2020 presidential election — a move Democrats vehemently pushed. While progressives largely used the coronavirus pandemic as justification for opening the doors for mass mail-in voting, which many critics warn leads to mass fraud, universal vote-by-mail has existed as a primary goal for the Democrat Party, even prior to the pandemic. The measure introduced on Thursday essentially updates the vote-by-mail measure the two lawmakers introduced in 2017, long before the Wuhan virus struck.
Abrupt changes in state election laws, coupled with existing concerns of fraud and irregularities, led to a heated post-election battle, which essentially ended January 6 after Congress certified the electoral votes despite challenges from GOP lawmakers and ongoing concerns from millions of Americans who continue to question the integrity of the election.
Despite the continued concerns, the press release for the bill describes the expansion of mail-in-voting in 2020 as a resounding success.
“The legislation follows the successful expansion of voting at home and by mail in the November 2020 election, when nearly 50 percent of voters used a vote-at-home ballot, an all-time high in federal races,” it reads.
Per the release, the measure would:
- Promote the Ability of Voters to Vote by Mail – All registered voters would receive ballots in the mail weeks before Election Day, allowing them to carefully research candidates and issues well ahead of Election Day to inform their vote.
- Expand Options for Casting Ballots – All registered voters would have the ability to cast their ballot through the mail or a drop-off site. Voters residing in states with in-person, same-day registration would still have the option to vote at a polling station in lieu of voting at home.
- Fund the United States Postal Service – The legislation would provide the USPS funding to cover costs associated with mailing ballots both to and from voters in federal elections. This would allow states to save money by transitioning away from polling stations and reduce a major barrier for voters with the federal government absorbing the cost associated with USPS delivery.
- Enact Automatic Voter Registration – States would be required to ensure that each citizen who provides identifying information to the state motor vehicle authority is automatically registered to vote.
Wyden on Thursday said that mass mail-in voting is necessary to “make real progress” in the country:
To make real progress, our country needs a government that represent all Americans. Oregonians know that voting at home is a time-tested, secure and accessible way to vote. It’s high time the rest of the country had the chance to vote the way we do.
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) January 28, 2021
Blumenauer appeared to agree, contending that the right to vote is “under threat in communities” across the nation.
“Last year we saw a widespread expansion of vote-at-home access as a safe and secure way to participate during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Blumenauer said in a statement.
“We should continue to make voting easier, not harder,” he added. “This important bill would strengthen and clarify the right to vote at home, the most secure and convenient way for voters to exercise the franchise”:
Our bill will make voting easier, not harder by:
🏡Expanding vote-at-home ballot access
📨Providing voters with pre-paid ballot envelopes
🗳️Enacting automatic voter registration
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) January 28, 2021
Unlike the dozens of states that altered their election laws last year, Oregon already allowed vote-by-mail prior to the pandemic.