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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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In the debate raging over what exactly Election Day 2020 might look like, a senior Democratic lawmaker wants to ensure that every American voter has access to ballot-by-mail so as to avoid crowds and the potential for infection by the novel coronavirus, should that continue to be a concern by November.
Voting in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic has become a flashpoint, as Republicans–backed up by a US Supreme Court decision–forced elections to go on in person in Wisconsin earlier this month despite an attempt by Democratic Gov Tony Evers to postpone.
The Republican victory in that case proved bittersweet, however, as a Democrat defeated a Republican incumbent on the state’s high court.
It’s in this environment that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) addressed the concern that Donald Trump may try to postpone, or cancel, the November election–as well as the broader issue of ensuring that all US voters get access to ballot-by-mail.
“He doesn’t have the power to do that,” Schiff said of Trump’s ability to interfere with the November election. “That doesn’t mean that he won’t try to do anything that he believes is political advantageous. I’m more worried he will try to disenfranchise potentially millions of Americans and try to put off the election. He’s already talking down absentee voting, making false claims about the reliability of absentee voting even when he votes by absentee himself.
“But he has openly admitted–and it is rather startling to hear him say out in the open–that he believes that the more Americans vote, more would participate in our democracy and he and other Republicans couldn’t get elected,” added Schiff, who led the prosecution of the case against Trump in his Senate impeachment trial. “That may very well be true. But that is not a reason to disenfranchise people, a reason to change their platform.
“But I do think that like they tried in Wisconsin, the Republicans may try to force people to choose their vote or our health and we need to insist — and I think needs to be a very important point in terms of protecting the health care of our democracy — we need to insist that every American in the fall, if they choose to do so, has easy access to voting by mail with a postage paid ballot,” he said. “Because we can’t preserve the health of our country if we allow the health of our democracy to be destroyed.”
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