Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams says emergency funding from the federal or state government should be set aside to cover the cost of postage for mail-in ballots.
Georgians are being encouraged to vote by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic. The May 19 primaries are scheduled to go forward, with in-person early voting set to start April 27.
Abrams says the secretary of state’s recent announcement that absentee ballot applications would be mailed to all 6.9 million active voters for the primaries is a step in the right direction. But in a recent conference call with her group Fair Fight, she says another obstacle to voting must also be removed.
“We want our elections to be fair in the state of Georgia. And in this case, they truly need to be free,” said Abrams. “We need to make certain that folks aren’t risking their lives trying to go to the post office to get a stamp in order to return an application and then venturing out again to return a ballot.”
“This isn’t a partisan issue,” Abrams insisted. “Both sides of the aisle have folks who are growing older and who need access to vote-by-mail and who may not have access to a post office.”
A relief bill passed by Congress last week contained $400 million in election security grants, but it doesn’t specify how the money should be used.
Democrats have proposed even more funding for the 2020 elections be included in the next federal relief bill. Abrams says Georgia shouldn’t wait for that.
“Because we’re under emergency declaration, because the governor has such statutory authority and fiscal authority, the state itself could decide to pay for that postage,” said Abrams.
Former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, an Atlanta native, also took part in the conference call Sunday afternoon.
“It’s not the 65 cents – although it frankly shouldn’t cost anybody anything to have to vote,” said Yates. “It’s rather putting a hurdle in place that makes it more difficult for people to vote.”