By Ann G. Daniels

To vote, or not to vote? To vote, of course (check your registration)! How and when to vote safely during the pandemic? Since California moved our primary to Super Tuesday, we don’t have to deal with this, but other states are grappling with hard questions around their upcoming primary elections. How to preserve both public health and our democratic processes? 

Enter the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020, introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden and cosponsored by CA Senators Feinstein and Harris, among others. The bill, which would help states expand vote-by-mail for this November’s election, includes provisions (and funds) to:

  • Expand early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail to all states.
  • Require states and jurisdictions to establish a publicly available contingency plan to enable eligible Americans to vote in the case of an emergency. 
  • Require the Election Assistance Commission to create a domestic version of the federal write-in absentee ballot.
  • Require all states to provide envelopes with prepaid postage to all voters who request a voter registration application, absentee ballot application, or absentee ballot, and require all states to offer and accept online absentee ballot applications.
  • Require absentee ballots to be counted if postmarked or signed before the close of the polls on Election Day.

What you can do:

You won’t be astonished to hear that Senate Republicans have already started opposing this expansion of democracy. Call Senators Feinstein and Harris to thank them for their early sponsorship and ask them to insist that the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act be included in the next coronavirus relief package. 

What to say:

My name is ________, my zip code is ____________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for sponsoring the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act. Please insist that the next coronavirus relief package include funding to protect our elections and expand remote voting in every way possible, everywhere.

Don’t live in CA? Use this page on the Indivisible National website to contact your Senator, wherever you live.


Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.

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