In a cyber-security and disaster exercise less than two years ago, President Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security praised Colorado as a “national leader in safeguarding elections,” saying “we’d love to continue to use you as an example of what other states can adopt.”
Why did then-Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen offer such high praise for Colorado’s election system?
As a resident of the Centennial State, I am pleased to say it’s because Colorado has implemented successful vote-by-mail elections, which has boosted voter turnout, lowered costs and increased the security of the overall voting process.
The Clerk and Recorder (who oversees a county’s elections) of Jefferson County, Colorado’s fourth-largest, wrote recently:
“Colorado has proven year after year that voting by mail not only increases accessibility (we regularly have one of the highest turnouts in the country) and efficiency (our costs decreased by 40% when we switched to universal mail-in voting and made voting more accessible, according to a Pew Charitable Trust funded study) — it also delivers acclaimed security.”
Clearly, during a presidential election in the middle of an unprecedented public health crisis, conducting a safe, secure and efficient election is more important than ever, despite frantic tweets from Donald Trump attempting to discredit this proven process.
That’s why the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan economic relief package in mid-May that includes funding to help states – and the U.S. Postal Service – conduct a fair and orderly election this fall.
Yet the U.S. Senate, led by Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, refused to even begin negotiating until the end of July … days before the expiration of the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit that has helped keep millions afloat during this economic meltdown that resulted from poor federal preparedness for the pandemic.
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This Republican Senate has stalled long enough! It is essential that the Senate pass a bill now in time to secure the November election.
Already, at least 77% of Americans can cast ballots by mail. Passing legislation in the Senate will help ensure that the U.S. Postal Service will be able to deliver our ballots on time, while providing health and safety protections for those who vote in person.
A group of nearly 200 former members of Congress has weighed in on this critical issue, sending a letter to incumbent senators urging them to fund safe, secure elections.
Spearheaded by Issue One’s bipartisan ReFormers Caucus, this effort represents the largest bipartisan group of former members of Congress, governors and Cabinet officials ever assembled to advocate for political reform.
In a demonstration of strong bipartisan concern, this letter was signed by 116 Democrats and 83 Republicans (including me), who wrote, in part:
“At a time when our nation is facing a dual economic and public health crisis, Congress must act to ensure state and local election officials have what they need to carry out a safe and credible election process that Americans have confidence in.
“Failure to deliver adequate resources for the November general elections — whether states and localities decide to invest in absentee ballots, more early voting, personal protective equipment, or recruitment of younger poll workers — will risk more chaos and confusion on Election Day, and will, ultimately, sow doubt in this sacred democratic process.”
Though I am a Republican, and a founding member of Republicans for Integrity, I write this column today as an American citizen, concerned simply about the survival of America’s unbroken practice of peaceful election outcomes.
If Republican senators want to ensure a peaceful, safe and secure election, this is their last chance to act.
Claudine Schneider is a Republican former United States Congresswoman and is a founding member of Republicans for Integrity which brings together Republican former Members of Congress who place people before partisan politics. She works with various national, non-partisan, watchdog organizations and was one of the founding members of www.VoteSmart.org.
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