ON EVE OF 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF VOTING RIGHTS ACT, SCHUMER INTRODUCES NEW BILLS TO DRAMATICALLY EXPAND ACCESS TO VOTING – LEGISLATION MAKES IT EASIER TO REGISTER ONLINE, EXPANDS EARLY VOTING, AND MORE
Legislation Would Require All States to Hold Early Voting for At Least 7 Consecutive Days During 10 Days Leading Up To Federal Elections
Schumer Bills Would Also Allow Voters To Register to Vote Online, Sync Voting Registration with USPS Change of Address Service, & Ensure That Last Day to Register To Vote Does Not Fall On A Weekend
Schumer: Congress Must Make it Easier to Vote, Not Harder
Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today introduced three new bills designed to expand access to voting in the United States. Schumer, Ranking Member of the Rules Committee which has jurisdiction over laws governing election administration, is seeking to put in place federal safeguards that would prevent individual states from curtailing practices that ensure all Americans have access to the ballot box, including early voting and online registration.
“Today, on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we should be celebrating the progress we have made. Unfortunately, the right to vote in this country is still under attack,” said Schumer. “In an effort to limit the pool of potential voters, nefarious forces have sought to make it more difficult to get registered to vote, prevent or decrease early voting, and increase bureaucratic hurdles to limit participation at the ballot box. Those efforts are backwards, wrong, and they must be stopped cold. These bills would make it easier for Americans to vote, period. In a polarized Democracy, individuals of all political stripes ought to be able to agree that we should make it as easy as possible for voters to participate in the process. This legislation would do just that, and I’m hopeful it will earn bipartisan support.”
1) Online Voter Registration Legislation
Online voter registration has been one of the most popular election reforms. Online voter registration allows citizens to register to vote in a fast, convenient and secure way. Additionally, online registration saves election administrators valuable time and resources. For these reasons, it is not surprising that online registration has received widespread bipartisan support around the country. What is surprising, however, is that a number of states have been dragging their feet leaving millions of Americans unable to register to vote online in their states. This bill will:
- Provide that an online version of the federal mail voter registration application will be made available by the Election Assistance Commission for use by all Americans who are eligible to register to vote.
- Provide that States that establish their own electronic registration form that complies with the requirements of the federal form may request to have their residents directed to the applicable state form. This electronic voter registration application also would a voter to send an electronic cancellation request to the registrants’ prior jurisdiction.
- Provide that the United States Postal Service’s online version of the National Change of Address form will connect to the federal online voter registration application to allow individuals to have the opportunity to register to vote online when changing an address with the post office online. This is simply good governance. Many Americans believe that updating their address with USPS updates their address for voting purposes. Unfortunately that is not the case, but it should be streamlined as much as possible to help Americans keep their voter registration current.
- Set the voter registration deadline at 28 days before Election Day, which will always be a Tuesday with mail delivery. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 established that a state could not have a voter registration deadline exceeding 30 days before Election Day.
2) Early Voting and No Excuse Absentee Voting Legislation
The time has come to recognize that, for many Americans, Tuesday is not the best or most convenient day to vote. This bill will ensure that all states provide at least a week of early voting or not require an excuse to vote absentee. As a result, all Americans will finally have the opportunity to vote on the day that works best for their schedule. States shall, at a minimum, either hold early voting for eight hours per day on seven consecutive days during the 10 day period preceding the date of a federal election or make absentee ballots available to voters without an excuse.
3) Statewide Change of Address Legislation
Currently, a number of states require voters to re-register – as much as 30 days before Election Day – if they have simply moved a few blocks or to a neighboring town. This bill would fix that. Once a citizen was registered in a state, they would be able to update that registration and vote on Election Day. The bill provides that a voter who has previously registered in a state shall be allowed to update their address within the state up to Election Day.