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Sen. Wyden proposes vote-by-mail nationwide in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden introduced a bill that would require all states to offer voters a hand-marked paper ballot if 25% of all states declare a state of emergency.

PORTLAND, Ore. — U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden has introduced a bill proposing nationwide vote-by-mail in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wyden, D-Ore., on Wednesday introduced the Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020. The bill would require all states to offer voters the option of mailing in or dropping off a hand-marked paper ballot if 25% of all states declare a state of emergency related to the coronavirus or another disease or natural disaster.

“No voter should have to choose between exercising their constitutional right and putting their health at risk,” Wyden said. “When disaster strikes, the safest route for seniors, individuals with compromised immune systems or other at-risk populations is to provide every voter with a paper ballot they can return by mail or drop-off site. This is a nonpartisan, commonsense solution to the very real threat looming this November.”

The bill also requires states to offer postage prepaid self-sealing envelopes to voters and provides $500 million to fund emergency state vote-by-mail efforts.

Both Oregon and Washington have declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19.

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