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How Voters Decide: Crash Course Government and Politics #38

– [Reporter] These are voters
in Wisconsin waiting to cast their ballot in the
April primary election, despite being under stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic. With a potential resurgence of the virus in the fall of 2020, many are
questioning how they will vote in the November general election without jeopardizing their health. One solution? – Mail-in ballots.
– Mail ballots. – Vote-by-mail.
– Vote-by-mail. – [Reporter] Lawmakers are debating whether expanded absentee voting policies should be adopted in all 50 states. – It shouldn't be mail-in
voting, it should be you go to a booth and you
proudly display yourself. – So, the real problem
right now is public safety and that people shouldn't have to choose between voting and their
health and we all know there is one solution, which
is riding out in front of us and that is voting at
home or voting by mail. – [Reporter] To understand
the debate, first, you have to understand what
voting by mail looks like now. All states allow forms of voting by mail but for some, it has limitations. Currently, five states have
primarily mail-in elections. This includes Oregon,
which was the first state to fully adopt the policy in 1998. – The states that have
a culture and history of extensive use of vote-by-mail have enjoyed higher turnout. The states that extensively
use vote-by-mail really like it because they think it's
more convenient for voters, they think it is cheaper
and easier to administer. – [Reporter] 29 states have what is called no-excuse absentee
voting, which means that any voter can request a
ballot to vote from home, which they can then mail in
or drop off in a ballot box. The remaining 16 states, which
you can see here in gray, allow for mail-in voting
but only with an excuse, like having a physical disability or being away on election day. Some states, such as New
York, Maryland and Georgia, have already opted to
expand voting-by-mail because of the pandemic. Some lawmakers are arguing
that absentee voting should be accessible
and easy for all voters. Senators Amy Klobuchar and
Ron Wyden have introduced the Natural Disaster and
Emergency Ballot Act. The bill would expand
early in-person voting and no-excuse vote-by-mail
to all registered voters in every state, among other things. – So, we don't know, as
much as we'd like to, what will happen in
November but the safe bet is that this will still
be around in some form and that we need to plan ahead and allow people to vote safely at home. – [Reporter] In March, Congress passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, that included 400 million to address voting issues
created by the pandemic. Speaker of the House
Nancy Pelosi is calling for more funds in the next stimulus. – It has been estimated
by the Brennan Center that it would take about
$2 billion to ensure that the appropriate
policies can be in place in order to make sure that the November election
goes off without a hitch. – [Reporter] For all Americans
to have the full ability to vote-by-mail in the 2020
election, the policy will need to be included in legislation
that is approved by Congress. – There's huge urgency
to getting this bill done because the Secretary of States in each state need time to plan. – [Reporter] It will require
significant resources for states to enact voting reforms less than seven months before
a presidential election. This includes hiring
additional election staff and purchasing equipment such
as high-speed ballot scanners and large orders of envelopes and postage. The Brennan Center estimates
the total cost of postage to be between 413 and 593 million dollars, while ballot drop boxes
with security could cost an additional 117 to 165 million. – The states that extensively
use vote-by-mail have a variety of security mechanisms. They start with voter rolls
that they believe are clean because they have been doing
a number of interactions with the voters and they
are constantly updating the information that they
get, they have mechanisms for tracking where the
ballot is in the pipeline to ensure the chain of custody, they have non-discriminatory procedures
for comparing signatures. – [Reporter] Opponents
of mail-in voting argue that it increases the risk of fraud and that it's not a reliable
way to cast a ballot. – The most secure way to do
an election where people have the most confidence in the
election is to have people go to an assigned polling place
on election day and vote. – [Reporter] They say that voting early also encourages voters
to cast their ballots before having all of the
information from a campaign. While researchers have
found cases of fraud, evidence shows that, overall, it's rare. The debate over vote-by-mail
doesn't always follow party lines, some Republican
governors are pushing for temporary voting-by-mail just during the coronavirus pandemic. But for some states, the only
way to allow absentee voting for all voters would be to
change the state constitution. Experts point out that it
may not be the best option for everyone and that ensuring the safety of voters will require multiple methods. – There are going to be some communities that have terrible mail service and it would be
inappropriate to expect them to vote by mail when they
don't trust the mail. – It's not one size fits all,
we want to, as a country, to move to mail-in balloting
but we know that people with disabilities, many of
them, can't vote by mail, you'll have people that
do wanna vote at the polls for some reason or don't have,
their ballot didn't arrive, all kinds of things can happen. So, you don't wanna have
them lose that right.