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States Must Lift Barriers With All Deliberate Speed to Ensure Access

WASHINGTON, DC (March 10, 2020) – Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, concluded its work monitoring election activity across the country for the March 10th primary elections.  In addition, the organization has monitored election activity for elections on Super Tuesday. Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, issued the following statement in response to the impact of the coronavirus on the 2020 election cycle: 

“The coronavirus exposes and will likely exacerbate the effects of unnecessary restrictions and barriers that impair access to the polls in many states.  Officials should seize this moment to put in place long overdue reforms that can help to ensure access to the ballot at a moment when the coronavirus has introduced new challenges and barriers.  States must not wait a moment longer to take real steps to address the impact of the coronavirus on the 2020 election season. States that impose unnecessary restrictions on who can cast an absentee or mail-in ballot should work to lift those barriers immediately. Deadlines and conditions for requesting and returning absentee ballots should be eased across the board. States should work to expand early voting opportunities in their states to ease the long lines that we have seen inside some polling sites this primary season. States that are making polling site changes so as to protect vulnerable people from exposure to the virus must work to ensure that they are providing adequate public notice of the polling site changes to impacted voters. And states that have not yet put in place online registration should seize the opportunity to do so now.”

Clarke continued: “We call on Congress to take action now. Congress should allocate funding to support states working to recruit and train new poll workers and should adopt legislation that mandates no-excuse absentee balloting this election season.”