Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden and 27 other original cosponsors have introduced the “Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act (NDEBA)” of 2020. The legislation would help voters exercise their right to vote during disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic in current and future elections.
This legislation comes as many states have delayed their primaries due to the pandemic and as policymakers consider how to make voting safe and accessible for all voters. The NDEBA would:
- Ensure that voters in all states have 20 days of early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail and ensure states begin processing (but not counting) votes cast during early voting or by mail 14 days before Election Day to avoid delays in counting votes on Election Day.
- Guarantee that all voter registration applications submitted by mail or online, up until and 21 days prior to Election Day, are deemed valid.
- Provide all voters with the option of online requests for absentee ballots and require states to accept requests received up until and 5 days prior to Election Day.
- Guarantee the counting of absentee ballots postmarked or signed before the close of the polls on Election Day and received up until and on the 10th day following Election Day.
- Ensure states provide self-sealing envelopes with prepaid postage for all voters who request a voter registration application, absentee ballot application, or an absentee ballot.
Voting by mail, also known as absentee voting, is a proven way to let individuals exercise their right to vote without having to go to the polls. This option is more important than ever in the face of the health and safety precautions necessary to combat COVID-19. The NDEBA takes critical steps to ensure that everyone will have access to absentee voting and other important protections so that they can exercise their right to vote.