COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Sherrod Brown of Ohio joined a group of fellow Democratic senators on Thursday to introduce legislation that would allow any American the option to vote at home.
According to a news release from Brown’s office, the Vote at Home Act comes after 30 states adopted or changed their laws for the 2020 general election, largely in response to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing voters to cast ballots from home.
“Voting is a fundamental right and now more than ever, we have a responsibility to make it as easy as possible,” Brown said in the release. “By expanding vote-at-home ballot access, this legislation will make it easier for Ohioans to have their voices heard.”
The act also would automatically register any citizen to vote upon visiting their state’s motor vehicle authority and providing information that proves their identity.
The measure comes after former President Donald Trump warned of potential fraud from mail-in voting before the 2020 election and then continued to push those claims after he lost to Joe Biden. Trump’s unproven claims that voter fraud might have cost him victory has been seen as a contributing factor to the U.S. Capitol riots of Jan. 6, when Brown and the rest of Congress convened to certify Biden’s win.
Several Republicans, especially those loyal to Trump, have advocated looking at reforms that would ensure election integrity, including a look at mail-in voting.
According to a news release, the Vote at Home Act would:
- 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.
In Ohio, voters receive a form through the mail allowing them to request an absentee ballot that can be returned either by mail or in person to a county office.
Joining Brown in introducing the bill were Oregon senators Rob Wyden and Earl Blumenauer. Twelve other Democratic senators also joined in.