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This week in COVID-19 voting news

What it means for access to the ballot box during the pandemic
For Immediate Release

National

Over the weekend, the House approved a bill that would provide emergency funding for the USPS as well as roll back recently implemented service changes and block any additional modifications. The service changes that had been put in place had caused delivery delays across the country. Meanwhile, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the house and attempted to defend his decisions.

The president continued his unfounded attacks on voting by mail, in general, and ballot drop boxes, specifically. These claims come as the FBI announced that it has found no evidence of coordinated ballot fraud efforts. In addition, there is clear evidence that ballot drop boxes are a safe and secure tool for collecting ballots.

Indiana

A federal judge decided not to order Indiana to offer absentee voting to all voters for this fall’s elections. Concerns over COVID-19 will not be an acceptable reason to vote by mail. Indiana is one of six states where voters will be required to have a valid excuse, not including COVID-19, to vote absentee. 

Pennsylvania

Ballot drop boxes are a hot topic in the Keystone State. Philadelphia is likely to receive millions of dollars of grant money to fund safe polling places and drop boxes. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign’s lawsuit to stop the state from using this safe, secure method of collecting ballots hit a roadblock

New York

In light of this summer’s disastrous primary elections in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a series of executive orders intended to improve New York’s absentee voting system. The orders include increased public education on how to vote absentee; simplified ballot design; increased staffing requirements for boards of elections; and an extension of his earlier order allowing people to use COVID19 as a valid excuse for voting absentee.

Tennessee

In Tennessee, people with greater vulnerability to COVID-19 will be allowed to vote absentee this fall. This week, a judge ruled that the state must print the conditions of what qualifies as vulnerable to the virus on absentee ballot request forms. 

Virginia

Virginia’s legislators are working to allocate $2 million to fund prepaid postage for absentee ballots this fall. Prepaid postage eliminates the lack of stamps as a potential barrier using the mail to vote absentee. Additionally, the bill would allow Virginians to deliver absentee ballots to drop boxes or cast absentee ballots in person at a registrar's office. 

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U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.

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U.S. PIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.