Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities push for vote-at-home access
People can work from home, order groceries from home, conduct secure banking from home, and even have video-chat doctor's appointments from home… shouldn't we be able to vote from home too?
That's the question being posed by celebrities who are joining Democratic leaders pushing for vote-at-home access amid the coronavirus crisis.
“The best thing we can do to slow the spread of this virus is to stay at home,” Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence says in a video obtained by PEOPLE that she recorded while isolated at home Wednesday. “But there’s still an election coming up, with millions of Americans who have yet to cast their ballot in the 2020 primaries.”
Alyssa Milano, Khloe Kardashian, and Rita Wilson have joined Lawrence's call on social media, PEOPLE noted, as have Sia and Sarah Silverman. They're urging fans to go to the RepresentUs voting rights organization, which provides information on how registered voters can contact their local lawmakers about supporting vote-at-home legislation, as well as providing information on obtaining absentee ballots. They're also asking fans to spread the word on social media with the hashtag #VoteAtHome.
"No eligible voter should be forced to choose between protecting their family’s health and exercising their right to vote,” said RepresentUs co-founder Joshua Graham Lynn in a statement. “Mailing ballots to voters is common sense and has bipartisan support. It is safer, more secure, increases turnout, and saves money in the states where it is already being used. RepresentUs is proud to have the support of so many influential figures such as Jennifer and Sia in the fight for this crucial reform.”
Currently, absentee ballot access is scattershot across the United States. Some states like Oregon send out mail-in ballots to all voters by default. Other states like Michigan require a voter to request an absentee ballot. And still others such as Texas require voters to have an "excuse" to receive a ballot at home — like being at least 65 years old, disabled, or in prison. (Right now, doesn't everybody have an excuse?) Some states are currently in the process of changing their methods to allow easier access.
With 14 states having already postponed their state primaries as part of their efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19, leaders are looking to the presidential election and wanting to avoid any reason to delay voting. Democratic primary frontrunner Joe Biden called for "virtual" voting on Tuesday while on MSNBC. "[T]here would be no rationale for eliminating or delaying the election. It may be virtual," he said.
President Trump has said he's against some of the measures which make voting easier. In the recent $2.2 trillion stimulus bill, Republicans shot down including more funds to help support measures such as vote-by-mail, same-day registration, and early voting. The bill ultimately included $400 million to help states prepare, which officials say is not nearly enough for widespread system updates if the pandemic continues through November.
"The things they had in there were crazy," Trump told Fox & Friends about the voting access measures in the original bill. "They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again."
For the latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19), including how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you are sick, please visit coronavirus.gov.