As Blog for Arizona Founder Michael Bryan stated in his March 15 piece on Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes taking the initiative on sending mail-in ballots to Valley Residents so they could avoid going to polling centers during the Coronavirus:
“Maybe this crisis will have the silver lining of making the need for voting registration reforms more immediate to Arizona’s legislature.”
Since that piece, other issues across the country due to the Coronavirus have prompted suggestions that reforms were needed to fully take the voting process into the Twenty-First Century. These included:
- Ohio Governor Mike Devine closing polling locations hours before they were supposed to open.
- Polling Judges not showing up and equipment issues in Illinois.
Lousiana and Georgia had already, because of the virus, postponed their primaries to the beginning of summer.
Furthermore, columnist Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic has pointed out that the drive to get written signatures for popular ballot initiatives like Outlaw Dirty Money and Invest in Ed 2.0 may suffer because people are not going to public venues to sign the petitions.
It is time for the nation’s local, state, and national leaders to strongly consider universal mail-in or online voting/petition signing.
This would not be a major shift for significant parts of the country as Colorado, Washington, and Oregon already has All-Mail in Elections.
Moving forward, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden have proposed the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020.
This legislation, as written in a joint Washington Post column by them, would:
“Help election officials meet this pandemic head-on. Our legislation will guarantee every voter a secure mail-in paper ballot and help states cover the cost of printing, self-sealing envelopes, ballot tracking, and postage.”
Leaders in states like Kansas and Maryland have already, because of the virus, moved to shift their primaries and go to all mail-in balloting.
It is time for every state in this country to provide the option for all voters to mail in their ballots or, eventually, vote on-line after all cybersecurity safeguards are satisfied. It should not be necessary for voters to stand on long lines waiting to vote anymore.
State Leaders should also make it easier for initiatives to get on the ballot by allowing voters to electronically sign petitions online.
If online signatures are good enough to secure candidates’ place on the ballot, it should be good enough for initiatives to provide more funds for schools or make campaigns reveal their dark money contributions.
This is the Twenty-First Century and it is unfortunate that a crisis like the Coronavirus may be the catalyst to finally bring the American voting process into it.