Democrat lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill dubbed the “Vote at Home Act,” which seeks to “massively expand vote-at-home ballot access,” enacting automatic voter registration and providing voters with pre-paid ballot envelopes.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced the bill (pdf), saying in a press release that the legislation is meant to “fight voter suppression.”“Our democracy is stronger when every American can vote, without standing in ridiculous lines or having to take time off work or school to exercise their Constitutional rights,” Wyden said in a statement.
The initiative stands in contrast to a bill introduced by Republicans several weeks ago, which seeks to tighten voter registration verifications and narrow rules for when and how mail-in ballots can be accepted, in a bid to strengthen the integrity of federal elections
.The Democrat lawmakers said the introduction of the bill was encouraged by what they described as “the successful expansion of voting at home and by mail in the November 2020 election,” in which almost 50 percent of voters cast ballots by mail, a record high in federal races.
“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. 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.
”Critics of expanding vote-by-mail initiatives have warned of the increased potential for voter fraud, allegations of which were front and center in the contested presidential election, with President Donald Trump, members of his legal team, and supporters, making numerous claims that amounted to the charge that the election was stolen.
Peter Navarro, who served as an adviser to Trump, concluded in a sweeping report on the integrity of the 2020 election that the allegations of irregularities, including outright voter fraud, were serious enough to warrant an urgent probe and substantial enough to potentially overturn the results.State election officials, the Justice Department, and others rejected the notion that there was widespread voter fraud in the November election.
The Democrats’ “Vote at Home Act” stipulates a range of actions that would expand vote by mail in federal elections.“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,” the press release states.
The bill would also grant all registered voters nationwide the ability to cast their ballots by mail or at ballot drop boxes. The act also calls for increased funding for the U.S. Postal Service to cover costs associated with processing ballots.
“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,” the press release notes.
Under the provisions of the bill, states would also be required to automatically register voters when they provide identifying information to the state motor vehicle authority.
Voters who do not want to remain registered would be given three weeks to opt out.The House Republican bill, meanwhile, called the “Save Democracy Act,” seeks to create baseline protections against election irregularities and voter fraud during elections.
The GOP initiative seeks to prevent automatic voter registration for federal elections, prohibits states from sending out unrequested absentee ballots, and calls for a ban on using public ballot collection boxes.Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), said in a press statement, “This bill will restore the public’s trust that their vote is counted and their voice is heard.”