Senators look for options to protect Americans’ right to vote during coronavirus crisis

Coronavirus

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As states around the country are expected to follow the example of Ohio, Indiana and Connecticut by delaying their upcoming primaries to prevent the spread of coronavirus, some lawmakers are pushing what they consider a safer alternative.

“We should be able to keep voting and conducting elections even in the middle of this global pandemic,” Delaware Sen. Chris Coons said.

Coons wants to pass a bill requiring states to allow all voters 20 days of early voting by mail before other primaries and the national election in November.

Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin supports the idea.

“I hope we can find a mechanism to guarantee elections really do reflect the sentiment of the American populace,” Durbin said.

Some senators believe there might be other options to explore, while some say now is not the time to discuss this.

“Election assistance funding? That has nothing to do with COVID-19,” Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn said.

Blackburn believes election discussions should wait until after they’ve passed the current stimulus package, but with the election seven months away, Ohio Sen. Robert Portman and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin say absentee and even drive-thru voting could provide a quick solution.

“Everybody can vote absentee. I think that’s really important,” Portman said.

“You drive by, they give you a ballot, you vote in your car. You can basically give it right back to them and move on,” Manchin said.

These senators believe they need to make a decision soon to protect the election process.

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