DES MOINES — Today, the Iowa Democratic Party joined 50 other state Democratic parties in sending a letter to federal and state officials urging swift nationwide action to make voting easier and more accessible without the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19.

“Americans shouldn’t have to put their health and safety at risk to cast their ballot,” said IDP Chair Mark Smith. “While the COVID-19 pandemic requires Americans to stay home, we need to do everything we can to protect our democratic processes and make sure every vote is counted.”

The letter from state party leaders calls on federal lawmakers to appropriate at least $2 billion to allow states to make the following improvements to their electoral systems: 

  • a universal and easily accessible vote-by-mail system which should include:
    • provisions for free or prepaid postage,
    • allowing ballots postmarked by election day to count,
    • reforming any signature match laws to protect voters,
    • and allowing community organizations to collect and deliver voted, sealed ballots.
  • extended early voting periods to allow for in-person voters to practice social distancing
  • expanded voter registration options, including both online and same-day registration
  • voter outreach and education to raise awareness around these changes
  • prohibition of polling place adjustments that disproportionately affect marginalized communities
  • ensure that the millions of overseas American voters can participate fully in the political process

“If left unchanged, our current electoral system poses a severe public health risk that could rapidly accelerate the spread of COVID-19 while disenfranchising countless voters and calling into question the legitimacy of our elections. Just like our healthcare system and our economy, our elections infrastructure will need a massive infusion of resources to ensure that elections can go on and every voter has access to the ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter reads.