- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 21, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday used the anniversary of the chamber passing the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, to push for a national vote-by-mail mandate.

The Democrats’ plan for universal no-excuse absentee balloting, which Republicans and President Trump reject, marks a new battle line in the 2020 elections.

Mrs. Pelosi said the right to vote is suffering under a systemic, nationwide voter suppression effort and the coronavirus pandemic.

“Sadly as we observe this milestone, voting is under assault,” the California Democrat said at a press conference at the Capitol. “People should not have to choose between voting and preserving their good health.”

She described mail-in ballots as a new front in the battle for civil rights.

“Imagine the courage of the suffragettes,” said Mrs. Pelosi. “It took a long time. And how proud we are to stand on their shoulders now to make public policy for our great country and we don’t want anything to stand in the way of the right to vote.”

In a proposed new $3 trillion coronavirus rescue package, House Democrats require state and local governments provide vote-by-mail options for the public and a 15-day early voting window for federal elections, starting with the upcoming election. Absentee ballots that arrive up to 10 days arrive after Election Day would still count, under the proposal.

The Democrats’ bill also eases voter ID requirements and allows same-day registration.

The House passed the bill last week but it was dead on arrival in the Republican-run Senate and faces further opposition from the president, who wants time to assess the impact of the nearly $3 trillion in federal funds that have already been allocated for coronavirus relief.

Republicans are staunchly against vote-by-mail proposals but states across the country are adopting the policies.

“This is for the people. It’s no use to be afraid of the people,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “We’re giving people an option. But if [Republicans] don’t support the resources then they have stood in the way of voting, which is in keeping with their voting suppression in general.”

Still, Republicans managed to pick up a seat last week when Rep. Mike Garcia won a special election in a California swing district that had switched over to vote-by-mail.

The win was a major boon for the GOP in a state where the party has been struggling. Republicans hadn’t flipped a House seat in California in more than 20 years, while six of the 40 races Democrats won in 2018 came in traditionally Republican districts.

President Trump on Thursday said he doesn’t want states expanding mail-in voting.

“It’s going to lead to total election fraud,” he told reporters as he left the White House for Michigan, which is mailing absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million voters. “We don’t want anyone to do mail-in ballots.”

He has threatened to withhold federal funds from Michigan and Nevada over their expansion of mail-in voting.

During a meeting with black leaders in Ypsilanti, Michigan, the president said one problem with mail-in ballots was that some voters don’t receive ballots. He implied such oversights are usually politically motivated.

“A lot of the problem is they’re not shipped to certain areas,” the president said. “Ideally you vote with voter ID, and then you really have an election.”

The president said exceptions for voting by mail should only be allowed if a voter is sick or, like Mr. Trump, if “they live in the White House and they have to vote in Florida.”

Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska and West Virginia also are mailing ballot applications to voters.

Meanwhile, about 20 absentee ballots for Charleston County, South Carolina, somehow were delivered to officials in Baltimore, Maryland, the Post and Courier reported this week.

A state election board official said it’s just one of several problems with SeaChange Print Innovations of Minnesota, which prints and mails absentee ballots for 13 South Carolina counties.

The same vendor failed to mail hundreds of thousands of ballots to Baltimore voters for nearly a week despite assuring Maryland they were on the way, The Baltimore Sun reported. U.S. Postal Service trucks have been driving overnight shifts since officials learned of the problem last weekend, transporting ballots from Minnesota to Maryland where they are placed into the local mail system, Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator of the Maryland Board of Elections, told the Sun.

Maryland is mailing ballots to about 4 million voters for the primary, which is being held largely by mail due to the coronavirus crisis. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan postponed the primary from April to June.

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