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Stacey Abrams throws support behind vote-by-mail efforts

Stacey Abrams throws support behind vote-by-mail efforts

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Wednesday threw her support behind efforts to move toward mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic, calling on Congress to pass legislation giving states $4 billion for these efforts.

“There are deep challenges to the execution of our election if we fail to act,” Abrams told reporters during a press call. “We need Congress to act decisively so that voters across the country do not have to choose between their health and participation in our democracy.”

The coronavirus stimulus package signed into law by President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE last month included $400 million to help states move forward with elections despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. These funds did not come with any requirements for how to use them, and according to Abrams and other mail-in voting advocates was an inadequate amount.

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“The price tag for our democracy in 2020 is $4 billion,” Abrams said. “Congress must immediately pass legislation to provide states and territories with the $4 billion necessary to expand vote-by-mail options, including no-excuse absentee voting.”

Abrams has frequently implied that voter suppression efforts by her 2018 opponent for governor in Georgia, then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp, contributed to her narrow loss in the contest.

Abrams founded the election advocacy group Fair Fight last year and pointed to what she described as the “travesty” in Wisconsin during its primary election this month as underlining why states should move toward mail-in voting.

Wisconsin voters were forced to vote in person on election day after the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that no absentee ballots sent in after election day would be counted. The decision led to long lines in places such as Milwaukee, with voting rights advocates arguing these lines potentially compromised the health of voters. 

Many other states have been forced to postpone their primary elections, with some of these states moving toward making voting absentee easier.

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But some states are not budging on mail-in voting, and many Republicans including President Trump have expressed concerns in recent weeks that mail-in voting could hurt Republican chances or lead to voter fraud. 

“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it,” Trump tweeted last week.  “Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason,  doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”

Five states — Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Utah and Colorado — already vote entirely by mail, while states including California give all voters the option to vote by mail. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) joined Abrams on the press call Wednesday to push Congress to give states more funds for elections, pointing to her state’s experience with voting this way for the past two decades. 

“As the first state to move forward on all vote-by-mail, we know that vote-by-mail is proven as the most reliable and secure way for Americans to exercise their right to vote,” Brown said. “It’s modern, it’s secure, it’s efficient, and it’s less expensive than in-person voting.”

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The call on Wednesday was hosted by progressive advocacy group Stand Up America, which helped spearhead a letter sent to congressional leaders earlier this week to urge Congress to send states $4 billion for elections. The letter was co-signed by more than 50 groups, including the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood. 

Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharA Day in Photos: The Biden Inauguration Senators vet Buttigieg to run Transportation Department Democrats shoot down McConnell's filibuster gambit MORE (D-Minn.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Democrats file ethics complaint against Hawley, Cruz over Capitol attack With a new president and a new Congress, it's time for Medicare drug price negotiation The Hill's Morning Report - President Biden, Vice President Harris begin work today MORE (D-Ore.) and Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsMcConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Romney calls for Senate to pass sanctions on Putin over Navalny poisoning MORE (D-Del.) have led the charge in the Senate to pressure Republicans to support vote by mail funding, and former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaAmanda Gorman captures national interest after inauguration performance A Day in Photos: The Biden Inauguration Scorned and mistreated, Melania Trump deserved much better from the media MORE threw her support behind the effort Monday. 

While Democratic leaders including House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Biden unveils virus plan and urges patience | Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden | House to move quickly on COVID-19 relief Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 On The Money: Pelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief | Biden faces backlash over debt | 900,000 more Americans file for unemployment benefits MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerNRSC chair says he'll back GOP incumbents against Trump primary challengers Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader US Chamber of Commerce to Biden, Congress: Business community 'ready to help' MORE (D-N.Y.) have come out publicly in support of voting by mail, it is unclear whether any funds or requirements will be included in the next coronavirus stimulus package in the face of Republican opposition.

The Senate is out until early May, while the House has not yet scheduled a time to reconvene in person. 

Abrams decided to pass on running for the Senate in 2020, but has often been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenRev. Barber says best way to undercut extremism is with honesty Biden requires international travelers to quarantine upon arrival to US Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 MORE.

In an interview published Wednesday, Abrams said she thought she would be an "excellent" running mate for Biden.