Colorado is ready to lead mail-in ballots this November

Colorado is ready to lead mail-in ballots this November
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The last few months have been distressing for voting rights in the U.S. Make no mistake — voter suppression tactics in normal times are shameful. Still, the recent convergence of blatant disregard for public health and the health of our democracy has been particularly reprehensible.

By now, you've seen the pictures: an elderly Wisconsin voter clutching her walker while waiting hours to vote; a woman in D.C. who brought her bleach into the polling booth; a young man in Georgia waiting for hours to have his voice heard.

Americans are putting their lives on the line to vote. 

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How did we get here? The short answer is our hyper-partisan reality. In Wisconsin, the Republican-led state legislature rejected reasonable proposals from the Governor to switch to an all-absentee ballot election. Then, by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court blocked a court order that would have extended the period to return absentee ballots.

Georgia proactively mailed absentee ballot applications to all of their active registered voters. But while an estimated one million Georgians voted by mail, it wasn't enough. Many went in-person, as scenes of people waiting hours to vote played out on live television. This debacle was due in part to a coronavirus-caused shortage of poll workers, fewer polling locations, and new, unfamiliar voting equipment.

Most infuriatingly, minority communities were again the epicenter of the long lines, adding to Georgia's shameful record of voter suppression. As Americans have taken to the streets, demanding an end to police brutality over the last weeks, it is particularly maddening to witness continued disenfranchisement of Black Americans. 

But out of the election, chaos arises solutions. We have a solution in Colorado: mail ballots, and we're ready to lead the nation. 

Three simple goals should guide how we run elections. First, voting should be accessible for every eligible voter. Second, we must ensure faith in our democracy and operate elections that are accurate and secure. Third, participation in our democracy should not come at the expense of our public health. 

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Coloradans should be proud that our elections achieve these goals. In our state, we take a data-based approach. We know that giving voters plenty of time to vote, access to ballot drop boxes, and in-person voting in convenient locations — including on tribal lands and college campuses — increases turnout. We don't see the same long election-day lines that other states see. And we know that President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE's flimsy claims opposing mail ballots don't stand up to our voter-verified paper ballots, which are largely why Colorado is considered the most secure state in which to cast a ballot. 

When it comes to vote-by-mail, the president has said the quiet part loud: Republicans must do all they can to stop the national use of mail ballots because "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again." The president's view on vote-by-mail is disturbing. And wrong. In Colorado, our Republican U.S. senator was elected in a vote-by-mail election, and "The New York Times" recently highlighted research finding that the adoption of universal mail ballots increased participation among Democrats and Republicans almost identically.  

Mail ballots work. We cannot allow the pandemic to be used to suppress voters further. 

I've been inactive discussions with fellow secretaries of state from across the country, in red and blue states, sharing our lessons-learned and offering assistance as our country faces an election in potential pandemic conditions. 

We can do this. Americans are ready for a mail ballot election that protects our public health and gives us all a chance to participate in our democracy. Plus, the president already uses mail ballots.

This November, when the president returns his Florida absentee ballot, it will be processed and counted fairly and securely. Every eligible American deserves that same right.

Jena Griswold serves as Colorado Secretary of State. She is the youngest Secretary of State in the nation, and just the 10th woman to be elected to Colorado's current statewide constitutional office.