Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, concerned observers have been advocating for expanded accessibility for voting by mail across the United States. Voting by mail is a universal option in a full 34 states at present — despite claims from President Donald Trump and other Republicans of some kind of rampant fraud in the process — and now, former First Lady Michelle Obama is joining those advocating for expanding the option. Improving the accessibility of voting by mail obviously has a whole lot of relevance in an age when social distancing demands have been enacted across the U.S. to stop the Coronavirus spread.
Obama and her voting rights advocacy organization When We All Vote are endorsing legislation to establish a national vote-by-mail system that would come into force in the event “that large numbers of voters or poll workers have been subjected to a mandatory quarantine or a self-quarantine at the advice of government officials or health experts,” as the summary from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) explains. The legislation has been introduced by a slew of Democratic lawmakers including Wyden in both chambers of Congress.
The former First Lady commented:
‘There is nothing partisan about striving to live up to the promise of our country; making the democracy we all cherish more accessible; and protecting our neighbors, friends and loved ones as they participate in this cornerstone of American life.’
Obama adviser and family friend Valerie Jarrett explained to Axios that Obama’s endorsement decision ties back to the collective horror at the decision of conservatives on the Wisconsin state Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court to demand that voters in Wisconsin adhere to the pre-Coronavirus, in-person voting guidelines, despite the state’s Democratic Governor Tony Evers’s attempt to delay in-person voting to protect citizens from the community spread of the Coronavirus.
‘We all saw those lines” of Wisconsin voters putting their health at risk to vote. It was just deeply, profoundly concerning. Our goal is to just try to make sure we maximize the number of citizens who can participate in that most fundamental and important responsibility.’
The Obamas have already spoken out against the Wisconsin mess. Former President Barack Obama, for instance, commented:
‘No one should be forced to choose between their right to vote and their right to stay healthy like the debacle in Wisconsin this week. Everyone should have the right to vote safely, and we have the power to make that happen. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue.’
Everyone should have the right to vote safely, and we have the power to make that happen. This shouldn't be a partisan issue. https://t.co/gL38DpYEmu
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 10, 2020
Republicans pushed the Wisconsin election to proceed as planned amidst allegations of prioritizing their personal political gains, since they had a candidate on the ballot for the state Supreme Court. Reportedly, turnout in the Wisconsin elections unsurprisingly dropped to very low levels, which is believed to tend to favor Republicans.
So in Milwaukee, where 180 polling places were consolidated into 5, turnout went from 167,765 in the 2016 primary to 75,292 (preliminary) this year.
In Madison, where 66 of 92 polling places stayed open, turnout went from 118,207 to 87,552.
— Nathaniel Rakich (@baseballot) April 8, 2020
Trump has insisted that as a rule, voting by mail is some kind of haven for fraud and Democratic boosts, but the evidence for these claims simply is not there. He claimed after the 2016 elections that millions of fraudulent votes were cast, supposedly all for Hillary Clinton, but there was absolutely no evidence for that either.