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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 TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' 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 KlobucharSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Senate poised for all-day brawl over sweeping elections bill MORE (D-Minn.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Job openings jump to record high of 8.1 million | Wyden opposes gas tax hike | Airlines feel fuel crunch Green future needs to be built with union jobs and prevailing wage Wyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' MORE (D-Ore.) and Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsBiden to go one-on-one with Manchin US, Iran signal possible breakthroughs in nuke talks How the United States can pass Civics 101 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 ObamaMichelle Obama on coping with low-grade depression: 'Nobody rides life on a high' Sarah Silverman urges Congress to pass voting bill: 'What kind of politician wants to keep people from voting?' Michelle Obama: 'You wanna hang out with us? Get your vaccine' MORE threw her support behind the effort Monday. 

While Democratic leaders including House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Job openings jump to record high of 8.1 million | Wyden opposes gas tax hike | Airlines feel fuel crunch Pelosi: House Democrats want to make child tax credit expansion permanent Pelosi announces change to House floor mask rules MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Biden to host Sinema for meeting on infrastructure proposal 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 BidenKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' US officials testify on domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack MORE.

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