Written on: March 23, 2020
We encourage you to take action- free and fair elections should not be compromised by weather or viruses!
In this time of turmoil, sorrow, worry, and fear caused by COVID-19, we’ve been heartened to see the response of faith communities. Congregations across the country are stepping up to care for the most vulnerable in their communities in new and innovative ways every day.
Our election systems haven’t performed nearly as well. IPL has already launched the Faith Climate Voter Campaign to make sure that people of faith and conscience are prepared to vote with Creation care in mind, but those efforts won’t be worth much if elections are not accessible or don’t happen on schedule.
The presidential primaries in seven states have now been postponed, with several postponements coming at the last minute and causing massive confusion. Postponing elections sets a terrible precedent and undermines the regular transfer of power — one of the bedrock principles of our democracy.
But the states that have gone ahead with in-person elections have faced their own challenges. Several have seen huge decreases in voter turnout, unintentionally contributing to voter suppression. Poll workers, who are often elderly retirees, are especially endangered by the crowds that come with election day.
That’s why we need vote by mail legislation. Senators Ron Wyden (OR) and Amy Klobuchar (MN) have introduced legislation to expand early voting and vote by mail to all states if the coronavirus or another disaster were to threaten the November election. This isn’t a crazy idea–several states, including Washington and Colorado, already run their elections entirely through the postal system.
Even under normal circumstances, voting by mail in some ways is more compatible with our values as people of faith and conscience. We are called by our faith traditions to work on the side of the poor and oppressed. Voting by mail has been shown to increase voter turnout across the board, but especially among people of color and people with the least resources–two groups often targeted by voter suppression.
It’s our responsibility to safeguard God’s Creation and to make sure that the voices of the most vulnerable are heard in our elections. Your action can make the difference.