FLORENCE, MA — Pressured by Americans who want to vote safely, we are down to the “Late Eight” states that have so far refused to expand Vote by Mail amidst the coronavirus pandemic. New Hampshire and New York increased vote-by-mail options last week, leaving us with eight states, including Kentucky, that have failed to act.
Here is a list of the Late Eight: Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas
While some states are quickly expanding vote-by-mail options, the “Late Eight” states are stalling. Last week voters in Wisconsin were forced into long lines at limited polling locations, sparking outrage across the country and showing how COVID-19 could threaten upcoming primaries and the November general election. People should not have to choose between their health and casting a ballot.
Kentucky restricts Vote by Mail to people who are out of town for work, those who are advanced in age, sick and disabled, out-of-town students, state residents temporarily living elsewhere, military personnel, and voters in jail but who have not been convicted. Kentucky postponed its primary from May 19 to June 23. With the legislature recently passing a bill that could allow for more election flexibility, Governor Andy Beshear has the power to protect Kentucky voters by expanding Vote by Mail.
“The list of states that have done little to nothing to expand Vote by Mail is getting smaller every week. Kentucky risks standing alone in the race to protect voters,” said Josh Silver, Co-Founder and Director of RepresentUs.
Since RepresentUs first called out states lagging on expanding Vote by Mail, two states – New Hampshire and New York – have joined Alabama, Delaware, Indiana, and West Virginia — in making temporary exceptions to increase vote-by-mail options due to COVID.
Two other states had already broadened absentee voting for some upcoming elections below the statewide level: Arkansas and Massachusetts. Over the weekend, Virginia enacted permanent reforms expanding Vote by Mail.
Vote by Mail is the default in five states: Colorado, Washington, Utah, Hawaii and Oregon. In the others, most voters have to request an absentee ballot. And in 16 states, voters must provide an excuse to get an absentee ballot. (Check out our frequently updated interactive map and tool that connects voters to an absentee ballot in their state.)
“The Late Eight states must act soon to protect voters. There is no time to waste. Every day that goes by is another day they are not investing the time and resources required to expand Vote by Mail,” said Silver.
Thousands of Americans have made calls and signed petitions asking their state representatives to immediately put to use their portion of the $400 million approved by Congress to expand vote-by-mail options and early voting, and improve safety measures. We recognize all states may need more funding, as The Brennan Center estimates we need $2 billion to run free and fair elections in the wake of the pandemic. Congress should provide more funding so that states can fully implement these solutions.
RepresentUs volunteers have made more than 7,200 calls to state and federal officials to ask for safe vote-by-mail options. They also texted more than 38,000 voters. The RepresentUs petition calling for Vote by Mail has more than 27,000 signatures.
Silver is available for phone or video interviews about RepresentUs’ campaign to expand Vote by Mail.
RepresentUs is the nation’s largest grassroots anti-corruption campaign, bringing together conservatives, progressives, and everyone in between to pass anti-corruption laws in cities and states to stop political bribery, end secret money, and fix our broken elections.