The COVID-19 crisis illustrates the need for a stable democracy and secure, free, and fair elections 

Issue One to Senate: include resources for states for early voting and vote by mail

In the wake of unprecedented worldwide disruption caused by the coronavirus, and the impact it has on U.S. elections and public confidence in our government, Issue One Founder and CEO Nick Penniman released the following statement: 

“Coronavirus has ground many aspects of Americans’ lives to a halt, but it has also made clear that the stakes remain extremely high for our democracy. 

“Though our top priority as a nation must be to get a handle on this health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to do lasting damage to our free and fair elections, the cornerstone of our democracy. That’s why Issue One, as well as our peers at many democracy reform organizations around the country, have rallied together to work on measures to ensure that this year’s elections are as secure, free, and fair as possible.

“Central to our efforts is facilitating bipartisan support for legislation to ensure all voters have access to the ballot come November. As an organization with a history of moving bipartisan legislation, Issue One is working hard to build support across the political spectrum to protect every citizen’s right to vote in 2020 and beyond, including measures such as early voting and voting by mail, for states that choose to make that available.

“The Senate’s latest coronavirus package failed to include resources for states to ensure that all voters are able to participate in the November election. This is shortsighted — and will only create what could have been an avoidable crisis down the line. Many secretaries of state have made it clear that they need funds immediately to adequately plan for printing and distributing absentee ballots, among other associated costs.

“For more than a year, Issue One’s “Don’t Mess with Us” effort has worked to ensure the security and integrity of U.S. campaigns and elections.

“While our Constitution makes clear that states are responsible for the time, place, and manner of elections, the federal government has a role and responsibility to ensure that every eligible American is able to vote — that includes during crisis moments such as these where even small gatherings of people can pose a major threat to public health. 

“Congress should pass legislation providing resources to enable states to put in place a range of secure ways for voters to cast their ballots, including no-excuse absentee balloting by mail, early voting, and in-person voting. 

“Such measures already have a firm basis in our current system — all 50 states currently have a type of vote-by-mail: absentee voting. With partners in the House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats, we are working to find ways to build on that foundation. Important conversations are already taking place in Congress, but the clock is ticking and every day presents a greater strain on our system. 

“These important measures go hand-in-hand with Issue One’s ongoing legislative efforts. Earlier this month saw the House vote overwhelmingly in support of a resolution of nearly 30 recommendations to make Congress work better for the American people, an effort Issue One helped initiate and has long championed. We remain dogged in ensuring a functioning Federal Election Commission committed to upholding the law. And the team behind our “Swamp Stories” podcast is working on and releasing new episodes to shed light on some of the worst practices in our political system — like dark money, illegal coordination between candidates and outside groups, and much more.

“The need for a strong, responsive government is more important than ever, and we will keep fighting. For the future of our country, we have no choice but to do so.”