New legislation comes after record vote-at-home participation in 2020 election; Bill includes automatic voter registration and pre-paid envelopes to return votes by mail
Washington, D.C. —U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., today introduced new legislation to fight voter suppression by ensuring every American voter has the option to vote at home. The Oregon lawmakers introduced the Vote at Home Act, new legislation to massively expand vote-at-home ballot access, provide voters with pre-paid ballot envelopes and enact automatic voter registration.
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.
“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. “To get the big things done that really improve Americans’ lives, our country needs the government to 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.”
“The individual right to vote, the cornerstone of our democracy, is under threat in communities across America. 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. “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.”
The lawmakers introduced the legislation after 30 states adopted or changed their laws for the 2020 general election, allowing voters to cast their ballots from home in order to provide greater accessibility and to protect public health.
The Vote at Home Act updates Wyden and Blumenauer’s Vote by Mail legislation, first introduced in 2017, to build on innovative electoral reforms around the country. Specifically, the legislation will:
- 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. Voters are given 21 days to “opt out” if they do not wish to remain registered.
Joining Wyden in introducing the bill in the Senate are U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Tom Carper, D-Del., Cory A. Booker, D-N.J., Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.
A copy of the Vote at Home Act is available here.