Like Causes?

Install the App
TRY NOW

house Bill H.R. 6202

Should States Adopt Contingency Plans for Holding Federal Elections During Natural Disasters and Pandemics?

Argument in favor

Conducting free, fair elections is an essential component of democracy, and it shouldn’t be derailed by natural disasters and diseases. Requiring states to develop vote-by-mail contingency plans now will help ensure that the presidential election in November can still occur even if COVID-19 isn’t controlled by then.

jimK's Opinion
···
06/13/2020
Yes! The right of all citizens to vote is a central pillar of our democratic republic. If anything prevents some people from being able to cast their vote, to be counted- measures must be taken to assure that they can still vote and be represented. I think mail-in balloting should be an option for all registered voters anyway. Short of that, there needs to be allowances for natural disasters, pandemics or whatever may threaten our electorate’s ability to vote their conscience. Let’s move toward assuring that all who want to vote can do so. I find it beyond disgusting that any politician or political party would try to cheat people out of their voting rights to benefit their political interests. Any politician or any political organization that tries to stack the deck in their favor by suppressing the right of all to vote is by nature, fundamentally anti-American and should be politically abolished since they are not honoring nor respecting our constitution or our country (which by definition is all of the people being governed).
Like (206)
Follow
Share
Robert j.'s Opinion
···
06/13/2020
Not all disasters are man made. But those that are — like GA — could use a plan. It’s time to revamp the Voting Rights Act.
Like (58)
Follow
Share
Leslie's Opinion
···
06/13/2020
Vote by mail! We already have some form of vote by mail in 34 states with no restrictions & all 50 states if you include states requiring a valid excuse. Some states have declared Covid-19 a valid excuse. 1) five states have default mail elections (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah & Washington) 2) 29 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have vote by mail — also known as no-excuse absentee voting but voter needs to request ballot 3) 16 states require voters to provide a valid excuse to vote by mail (some states like NH accept coronavirus as an excuse) Need to make it consistent that all states send ballots for 2020 elections like they do in processing RealID where DMV issues a temporary and RealID is mailed to confirm address on file, or 2020Census is mailed. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/few-states-are-prepared-to-switch-to-voting-by-mail-that-could-make-for-a-messy-election/
Like (56)
Follow
Share

Argument opposed

The Constitution gives states the authority to determine how they hold elections, and this bill represents federal overreach because states are capable of making their own contingency plans. Vote by mail could harm a number of vulnerable populations, including rural and urban voters, minorities, and abused women, by making it harder for them to cast ballots that reflect their personal beliefs.

Kman's Opinion
···
06/13/2020
Our Federal elections have survived just fine.
Like (31)
Follow
Share
Steven's Opinion
···
06/13/2020
Election should be held like they’ve always been.
Like (13)
Follow
Share
Caren's Opinion
···
06/13/2020
NO! Mail in voting will definitely be a vehicle where anyone’s vote can be altered and stolen. That is how Democrats work. Their motto is by whatever means necessary and there is absolutely no low that Democrats won’t stoop to. No to mail in voting where votes are easily altered and stolen. Implement harsh punishments for anyone who alters a vote. If states force voting by mail then individuals should write their name on the ballot, maybe their social security number, make copies and send a copy to the White House and request that your vote is verified at your local election office. Further if natural disasters or illness prevents voting at the polls then perhaps it is better for the election to be delayed until the interrupting events pass. No and heck no to mail in voting where mail can be lost, misplaced at election offices, and altered to steal elections. Let the punishment for altering votes be the death penalty and anyone remotely deemed guilty would face that sentence. The only way out of that punishment would be to give up who gave those orders but still there would be life in prison. NO TO MAIL IN VOTING!!
Like (13)
Follow
Share

What is House Bill H.R. 6202?

This bill — the Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020 — would require states and jurisdictions to adopt contingency plans and permit absentee voting to prevent the disruption of federal elections due to natural disasters or infectious diseases such as COVID-19. 

Each state and jurisdiction would be required to create and publish a plan to operate their federal elections if a significant number of voters or poll workers were quarantined due to COVID-19. These plans would be required to permit registered voters to submit online requests for absentee ballots and vote in federal elections by mail and extend vote-by-mail deadlines if postal service is disrupted by COVID-19. These plans would be due within 30 days of this bill’s enactment.

Additionally, in cases when at least 25% of states have declared an emergency due to a single natural disaster or infectious disease, this bill would require states to:

  • Allow registered voters to vote by absentee ballot;
  • Permit voters to submit online requests for absentee ballots;
  • Allow voters to receive electronic (i.e., print-at-home) ballots;
  • Accept absentee ballot requests up to five days before an election for mailed ballots and up to one day before the election for print-at-home ballots; and
  • Accept ballots postmarked on or before the day of the election.

Even if the 25% threshold weren’t met, governors would have the discretion to trigger provisions of this bill within their states by declaring a state of emergency. This bill would also provide for an emergency voting period if a state governor declares a state of emergency.

Additionally, this bill would require states and jurisdictions to provide self-sealing return envelopes with prepaid postage for voter registration applications, absentee ballot applications, and blank absentee ballots. The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) would be required to reimburse states for the costs of providing these envelopes. To fund emergency state vote-by-mail efforts, this bill would provide $500 million.

Impact

States; federal elections; and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

Cost of House Bill H.R. 6202

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced this bill to address the threat that COVID-19 poses to the 2020 elections:

“Some things are overlooked when emergencies occur, but responsibly participating in our democracy should not be one of them. With a crucial election season approaching, we should not be putting individuals that are highly susceptible to contracting COVID-19 in danger by forcing them to vote in person. We need to act responsibly and allow for absentee voting to keep our communities safe.”

In March 11, 2020 introductory remarks on the House floor, Rep. Blumenauer added:

“Without broad congressional action, COVID-19 has the potential to disrupt every aspect of American society, including the 2020 primary and general elections. The virus will likely impact voters who cannot leave their homes as well as those who are under mandatory or self-imposed quarantines at the recommendation of health experts. To make matters worse, the Election Assistance Commission has found that 58 percent of all poll workers in 2018 were over 60--the prime at-risk population for COVID-19… It is critical that we take a broad view of the response to COVID-19 and ensure that our elections are safe, secure, and accessible to all.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the sponsor of this bill’s Senate companion, says:

“No voter should have to choose between exercising their constitutional right and putting their health at risk. When disaster strikes, the safest route for seniors, individuals with compromised immune systems or other at-risk populations is to provide every voter with a paper ballot they can return by mail or drop-off site. This is a nonpartisan, commonsense solution to the very real threat looming this November.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) supports a national vote by mail system to give citizens a safe way to cast their ballots while the novel coronavirus makes it dangerous to congregate. Originally, Speaker Pelosi had hoped to include vote-by-mail resources in the third economic stimulus package; however, this was not realized.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution includes the Elections Clause, which empowers states to determine the “Times, Places, and Manner” of elections for federal office. In effect, this gives states broad responsibility for administering elections, although Congress has the power to enact laws that pre-empt state policies.

President Donald Trump opposes the expansion of vote by mail. In a “Fox & Friends” interview, President Trump claimed that expansion of vote by mail would spell disaster for the Republican Party. Discussing Democrats’ ultimately unsuccessful attempts to include vote-by-mail support in the third coronavirus stimulus bill, Trump said these measures would mean “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Hans von Spakovsky, manager of the Election Law Reform Center at the Heritage Foundation and a member of Trump’s now disbanded election integrity commission, says this bill is “problematic” and “not needed”:

“The bill is very problematic for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s not needed. But I can tell you, as a former local election official, that the coronavirus is more than enough of an excuse, particularly given all the orders coming out from governors and mayors for people to stay out of public places.”

This legislation has 16 Democratic House cosponsors. Its Senate companion is sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). Neither bill has received a committee vote. Daily Kos, Protect Democracy, and OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates support this legislation.


Of NoteWendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, says the COVID-19 pandemic “presents unique, novel challenges to election administrators.” She adds: 

“[COVID-19] is very different from any of the election emergencies we have seen in recent years. The nation has not prepared for it. Our elections will not be perceived as fair if steps are not taken to assure that people have options for voting, no matter what happens. This is an emergency we can address, but we don’t have that much time.”

Amber McReynolds, president of the National Vote at Home Institute, points out that vote by mail is already used for military and overseas families, and could be applied to domestic voters as well.

Some evidence suggests that vote by mail could negatively impact certain populations, such as domestic abuse victims whose abusers may control their ballots and inner city, rural, and Native voters who may be poorly served by mail services. According to election experts such as Edward Foley, director of the Election Law program at the Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law, vote-by-mail could also raise the chance of litigation challenging elections’ results.

Currently, 34 states and the District of Columbia offer “no excuse” absentee voting by mail. Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Wasington, and Utah — currently conduct all elections entirely by mail.

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) reports that 58% of all poll workers in 2018 were over 60; their age would put these workers in the prime at-risk population for COVID-19


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Thibault Renard)

AKA

Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020

Official Title

To require States to adopt contingency plans to prevent the disruption of Federal elections from the COVID-19 virus, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
    IntroducedMarch 11th, 2020
    Yes! The right of all citizens to vote is a central pillar of our democratic republic. If anything prevents some people from being able to cast their vote, to be counted- measures must be taken to assure that they can still vote and be represented. I think mail-in balloting should be an option for all registered voters anyway. Short of that, there needs to be allowances for natural disasters, pandemics or whatever may threaten our electorate’s ability to vote their conscience. Let’s move toward assuring that all who want to vote can do so. I find it beyond disgusting that any politician or political party would try to cheat people out of their voting rights to benefit their political interests. Any politician or any political organization that tries to stack the deck in their favor by suppressing the right of all to vote is by nature, fundamentally anti-American and should be politically abolished since they are not honoring nor respecting our constitution or our country (which by definition is all of the people being governed).
    Like (206)
    Follow
    Share
    Our Federal elections have survived just fine.
    Like (31)
    Follow
    Share
    Not all disasters are man made. But those that are — like GA — could use a plan. It’s time to revamp the Voting Rights Act.
    Like (58)
    Follow
    Share
    Vote by mail! We already have some form of vote by mail in 34 states with no restrictions & all 50 states if you include states requiring a valid excuse. Some states have declared Covid-19 a valid excuse. 1) five states have default mail elections (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah & Washington) 2) 29 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have vote by mail — also known as no-excuse absentee voting but voter needs to request ballot 3) 16 states require voters to provide a valid excuse to vote by mail (some states like NH accept coronavirus as an excuse) Need to make it consistent that all states send ballots for 2020 elections like they do in processing RealID where DMV issues a temporary and RealID is mailed to confirm address on file, or 2020Census is mailed. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/few-states-are-prepared-to-switch-to-voting-by-mail-that-could-make-for-a-messy-election/
    Like (56)
    Follow
    Share
    Rule of thumb: If participants could die as a direct result of participating in their government, then there should be both a contingency plan and a mitigation plan. If mail-in ballots aren’t an option... then create an early voting task force and take the vote to every registered voter’s doorstep in this country. If I can pay my taxes online, then I should be able to determine how those taxes are spent and by whom online. ———————— JunnaLayn, I would like to add a full psych evaluation as recommend by numerous psychologists in The Dangerous Case of Donald J Trump and A Duty to Warn, along with the recommended revisions to the Goldwater law. Reference: Lee, Bandy X. (2019-02-19). "Violence: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Causes, Consequences, and Cures". Wiley.com. ^ "Transcript of the Duty to Warn Conference" (PDF). ^ Lee, Bandy X. "Mental health experts see Trump is dangerous, but our professional gatekeepers protect him". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2020-01-30. ^ "Mental Health Experts Claim Their Right to Speak". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2020-02-02. ^ "Psychiatrist issues urgent warning over Trump's mental health". The Independent. 2017-04-25. Retrieved 2020-02-02. ^ Jump up to a b c d Are Donald Trump’s test results fake news? Rhys Blakely, The Times, 18 January 2018. Retrieved 21 January 2018. (subscription required) ^ Jump up to a b c d e Bandy X. Lee, MD, MDiv. Archived 2018-01-18 at the Wayback Machine Yale School of Medicine: Psychiatry. Retrieved 21 January 2018. ^ Jump up to a b Bandy Lee, Yale University's Violence and Health Study Group. Archived 2016-04-03 at the Wayback Machine Violence Prevention Alliance, World Health Organization. Retrieved 23 January 2018. ^ Morris, Alex; Morris, Alex (2018-11-12). "What Happens When the Walls Finally Close in on Trump?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020-01-21. ^ Sheehy, Gail. "At Yale, Psychiatrists Cite Their 'Duty to Warn' About an Unfit President". Intelligencer. Retrieved 2020-01-21. ^ "Interview: Law Professor Richard Painter, Psychiatrist Bandy Lee Explain Views on Trump's Trial". lawandcrime.com. Retrieved 2020-01-21. ^ Jump up to a b Psychiatrist Bandy Lee: "We have an obligation to speak about Donald Trump’s mental health issues. . . . Our survival as a species may be at stake". Archived 2017-11-06 at the Wayback Machine Chauncey DeVega, Salon, 25 May 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2018. ^ "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump" A new book delves into the president’s mental health. Rosemary K.M. Sword and Philip Zimbardo, Psychology Today, 28 September 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2018. ^ "Correspondence: Psychiatrists Diagnosing the President — Moral Imperative or Ethical Violation?", New England Journal of Medicine, December 27, 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2018. ^ "Psychiatrists call for rollback of policy banning discussion of public figures’ mental health", STAT News, June 28, 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018. ^ "The Goldwater rule is broken. Here's how to fix it". STAT. 2018-06-28. Retrieved 2020-01-21. ^ B; Lee, Y. X.; Glass, Leonard L. "We're Psychiatrists. It's Our Duty to Question the President's Mental State". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2020-01-21. ^ Porter, Tom. "350 health professionals sign letter to Congress claiming Trump's mental health is deteriorating dangerously amid impeachment proceedings". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-12-06. Additionally, I would like all elected government officials to have to to provide proof they have the requisite knowledge either via education or be able to pass a standardized content-specific test. Note: until such standardized tests can be developed, we can use the various ap history tests taken by high school students all across America.
    Like (43)
    Follow
    Share
    I don’t know why this is even a question!
    Like (39)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes, and in case Donald Trump should succeed in shutting down the Postal Service!
    Like (35)
    Follow
    Share
    The plan: USPS for mail in voting.
    Like (31)
    Follow
    Share
    Vote by mail and problem is solved. Come on! Y’all vote by mail yourselves. You have to. It’s not like you are ever in Arkansas when it’s not campaign season.
    Like (30)
    Follow
    Share
    When challenging times like the ones we are experiencing occur, we should seize the opportunities provided for re-examining and re-evaluating our standard way of living and working to better prepare us for a new way of being in the newly developed world post-event. A lot is going to change in America,in the world, going forward. We can no longer wait around just to see what might happen. Direct action is now called for. The most significant aspect of this pandemic for the US has been the recognition that the balance between freedom and safety is precarious in ways we would never have imagined. And it is sobering to recognize that our system of government which serves and has served us so well for more than two centuries has finally come face to face with its serious flaws and weaknesses. It is both scary and rejuvenating. For those of us who have generally speaking been of the left-leaning persuasion, even if we tend toward more centrist views in certain circumstances, it is sobering to find our focus on making the federal government the source of national change has its limitations. The dynamics of this pandemic combined with the vacuum of leadership in the White House and at most levels big federal governing has left us to our own devices. And, I would suggest, it has reminded us of the reality underlying the oft repeated phrase “all politics is local”, which in our newly achieved awareness could actually be rephrased as “EVERYTHING is local “. We are now FULLY aware, perhaps, that under some circumstances our government can have the plug pulled at the national level in such a way as to destroy the underpinnings of our national structure entirely. And now we can see how vital the leadership at the state and local level is and how it has been undermined over several decades, and what an essential component it is of our self-governing, democratic republic. We can -also, if we are willing to acknowledge it, see how vital each and every one of us as citizen-voters is to the stability of the nation as a whole. Our entire ability to function as a nation is determined by how our state and local electoral systems function. In circumstances such as we are experiencing, maintaining the voice of We the People is crucial to recovering our balance in the wake of this tsunami. Your city council members have become the last bastions of sanity, and unfortunately many are unprepared and underfunded. Despite this, many are rising to the occasion, offering leadership and support for alternatives to the standard trek to the polls on Election Day. This is a BIG wake-up call to all of us who tend to seek federal answers for every question. YES, absolutely, every state, every local government must now identify and ensure implementation of forms of delivering free and fair elections to their constituents. Federal funds should support these efforts and oversight of their implementation should be required. Yes, we need a central government to provide a framework that can enable all states and territories to equally and fairly implement the conduct of federal, state and local elections across the nation. But our local and state governments MUST be provided with the legal and financial framework to be effective in their roles. It’s a new day, my fellow Americans! 🗽🇺🇸
    Like (24)
    Follow
    Share
    Vote by mail. It’s obvious. And dealing with that myself this year there is NO WAY TO CHEAT like Trump said!! Application has to be made to vote by mail, then application has to be made to vote in each election, in my state a driver’s license or other identification is necessary- thank you Chris Kobach & ExGov Brownback did that - and then the votes come in separate envelops at certain times & you have a length of time to vote & send it back. THERE IS NO WAY THE VOTES CAN BE COPIED. THEY HAVE INDIVIDUAL NUMBERS. TRUMP & REPUBLICANS ARE WRONG!!!! AS USUAL.
    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
    Why is this even a question...should have been in place already With multi-factor authentication remote or smartphone voting is entirely safe - finger print-face scan-iris scan-voice-random password-location etc. Republicans have always pursued many forms of voter suppression so mail/secure electronic is something they will do their best to avoid If banking / ss / irs can be secure via smartphone then so can voting! You can even combine mail & electronic so when both match your vote gets registered Many possibilities
    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
    Without competent federal leadership we must, it’s the right of every citizen to vote. If we want to hold a fraudulent charity golf tournament I’m sure Donnie would help out. He’s already stole as much of the pandemic bailout money he could get his hands on, and his need to steal is never satisfied.
    Like (20)
    Follow
    Share
    Voting should be easy and timely.
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    our elections are in jeopardy anyway!!! We need to have a plan B before our President sells us to either Russia or China!!! Which ever one wants us after he bankrupts us... we already know this next election will not be legitimate!!! He’s basically announced it!!! Charades charades charade
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    Of course there should be contingency plans – especially in the age of global warming with its increased severe storms, wind, and rains. Add pandemic and it’s a necessity. Since the vote is so important and can help protect us from a dictatorship, all states should have mail-in voting that includes observed accurate accounting.
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    Yep!.....It boggles the mind, that this has NOT been done before this....contingency plans are ALWAYS a good idea.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    NO! Mail in voting will definitely be a vehicle where anyone’s vote can be altered and stolen. That is how Democrats work. Their motto is by whatever means necessary and there is absolutely no low that Democrats won’t stoop to. No to mail in voting where votes are easily altered and stolen. Implement harsh punishments for anyone who alters a vote. If states force voting by mail then individuals should write their name on the ballot, maybe their social security number, make copies and send a copy to the White House and request that your vote is verified at your local election office. Further if natural disasters or illness prevents voting at the polls then perhaps it is better for the election to be delayed until the interrupting events pass. No and heck no to mail in voting where mail can be lost, misplaced at election offices, and altered to steal elections. Let the punishment for altering votes be the death penalty and anyone remotely deemed guilty would face that sentence. The only way out of that punishment would be to give up who gave those orders but still there would be life in prison. NO TO MAIL IN VOTING!!
    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
    The future of our republic depends upon an open and fair election where everyone eligible to vote is able to vote!
    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
    Contingency Plans? Seems somewhat late for a “contingency.” The pandemic is already present and the only disaster appears to be mob protests against ……… You can pick your favorite. But isn't it a little late? A contingency is a future plan prior to the actual emergency. You can not make plans after the emergency has occurred. A ”let's break this window” or ”loot that store” or even ”topple a statue” are normally not considered a contingency as Hurricanes, earthquakes or flooding. However, it seems mob protests, looting, or securing private property has become the ”new, new normal.” Guess you could throw in guns and ammo into this ”normal” too.
    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
    MORE