Durbin, Duckworth Join Colleagues To Introduce VoteSafe Act

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and U.S. Representatives James Clyburn (D-SC-6) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11) to introduce the VoteSafe Act, legislation to expand voting options and improve the safety and accessibility of polling places across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Voting is foundational to our democracy, and during an election year, the coronavirus pandemic has created additional obstacles to reaching the ballot box,” said Durbin.  “Rather than asking Americans to risk their own health to exercise their right to vote or furthering voter disenfranchisement, we should be instituting forms of voting that are both safe and accessible, including vote by mail and early voting, to every community.  I’m proud to help introduce the VoteSafe Act because every American deserves a voice through their vote.”

“COVID19’s persistence, and the possibility of a fall resurgence, have made it abundantly clear that we must prepare for an Election Day that does not resemble those of the past,” Duckworth said.  “It’s our responsibility as a nation to ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote can do so in a way that’s secure, accessible and safe.  I’m proud to help Senator Harris introduce the VoteSafe Act today, which would help fulfill that responsibility by expanding access to vote by mail and early voting to every community during this pandemic.”

The VoteSafe Act would:

  • Require states to provide no-excuse mail-in absentee voting for the 2020 elections and guarantee minimum due process protections for these voters;
  • Require states to maintain an early in-person voting period of at least 20 days for the 2020 elections;
  • Authorize $2.5 billion for states to meet their obligations to offer no-excuse absentee voting and early in-person voting; and
  • Provide $2.5 billion in additional discretionary grant funding for states to further improve the safety and accessibility of voting options during the pandemic, including:
    • Ensuring that elections are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
    • Ensuring adequate protections for language minority voters.
    • Ensuring voting access for American Indian, Alaska Native, and rural voters.
    • Implementing and promoting curbside voting.
    • Implementing and meeting a maximum wait time standard or publishing current wait times for voters.
    • Providing for the training and recruitment of poll workers.
    • Improving access to voter registration.

In addition to Durbin, Duckworth, Harris, Clyburn, and Fudge, the VoteSafe Act is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR); and Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC-12), Joyce Beatty (D-OH-3), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-1), Tony Cardenas (D-CA-29), Andre’ Carson (D-IN-7), David Cicilline (D-RI-1), Gilbert Cisneros (D-CA-39), Yvette Clarke (D-NY-9), Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO-1), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Danny Davis (D-IL-7), Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4), Diana DeGette (D-CO-1), Val Demings (D-FL-10), Ted Deutch (D-FL-22), Eliot Engel (D-NY-16), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), Dwight Evans (D-PA-3), Chuy Garcia (D-IL-4), Sylvia Garcia (D-TX-29), Deb Haaland (D-NM-1), Alcee Hastings (D-FL-20), Jahana Hayes (D-CT-5), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-8), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30), Hank Johnson (D-GA-4), Joe Kennedy (D-MA-4), Ro Khanna (D-CA-17), Daniel Kildee (D-MI-5), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Andy Levin (D-MI-9), Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Steven Lynch (D-MA-8), James McGovern (D-MA-2), Grace Meng (D-NY-6), Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Grace Napolitano (D-CA-32), Joe Neguse (D-CO-2), Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40), Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Terri Sewell (D-AL-7), Donna Shalala (D-FL-27), Darren Soto (D-FL-9), Mark Takano (D-CA-41), and Mike Thompson (D-CA-5).

The bill is endorsed by Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Areva Martin, civil rights attorney, author, and founder of Special Needs Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), Asian Law Alliance, Asian Pacific Islander Initiative, Asian Pacific Islander American Vote, Building Healthy Communities East Salinas, California Black Chamber of Commerce, Center for American Progress (CAP), Common Cause, The Daniel Initiative, David Ryu, Los Angeles City Councilmember, End Citizens United Action Fund and Let America Vote, Environmental Health Coalition, Fresno Barrios Unidos, Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce, Greater Sacramento Urban League, Homeboy Industries, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership, Marc Elias, election and voting rights attorney, Mi Familia Vota, Mid-City Community Action Network (Mid-City CAN), Mission Economic Development Agency, MoveOn, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO Educational Fund), National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), Native American Rights Fund (NARF), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Education Association (NEA), New Breath Foundation, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Sacramento LGBT Center, San Diego Organizing Project, San Francisco Faith Community, San Francisco NAACP, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), SEIU Local 2015, UnidosUS, UNITE HERE Local 11, United Farm Workers (UFW), Urban League of San Diego County, Voto Latino, and Working Partnerships USA.

Bill text can be found here.

A one pager on the bill can be found here.