Brown introduces bill to allow voting at home

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), along with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), on Thursday introduced new legislation to fight voter suppression by ensuring every American voter has the option to vote at home.

The lawmakers introduced the Vote at Home Act, new legislation to massively expand vote-at-home ballot access, provide voters with pre-paid ballot envelopes, and enact automatic voter registration.

The legislation follows the successful expansion of voting at home and by mail in the November 2020 election, when nearly 50 percent of voters used a vote-at-home ballot, an all-time high in federal races.

“Voting is a fundamental right and now more than ever, we have a responsibility to make it as easy as possible,” said Brown. “By expanding vote-at-home ballot access, this legislation will make it easier for Ohioans to have their voices heard.”

The lawmakers introduced the legislation after 30 states adopted or changed their laws for the 2020 general election, allowing voters to cast their ballots from home in order to provide greater accessibility and to protect public health.

Specifically, the Vote at Home Act will:

  • Promote the Ability of Voters to Vote by Mail – All registered voters would receive ballots in the mail weeks before Election Day, allowing them to carefully research candidates and issues well ahead of Election Day to inform their vote.
  • Expand Options for Casting Ballots – All registered voters would have the ability to cast their ballot through the mail or a drop-off site. Voters residing in states with in-person, same-day registration would still have the option to vote at a polling station in lieu of voting at home.
  • Fund the United States Postal Service – The legislation would provide the USPS funding to cover costs associated with mailing ballots both to and from voters in federal elections. This would allow states to save money by transitioning away from polling stations and reduce a major barrier for voters with the federal government absorbing the cost associated with USPS delivery.
  • Enact Automatic Voter Registration – States would be required to ensure that each citizen who provides identifying information to the state motor vehicle authority is automatically registered to vote. Voters are given 21 days to “opt out” if they do not wish to remain registered.

Joining Brown and Wyden in introducing the bill in the Senate are Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

A copy of the Vote at Home Act is available by going online to https://bit.ly/36nE6Qf

Staff report