Former Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called on Congress to “make voting by mail the norm” with “free postage” as a result of public health concerns due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
President Donald Trump said earlier this week that he expects the current national emergency to last through July or August. The White House has not yet said what, if any, preparations might be needed for the November election.
Clinton’s call echoed a similar demand by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), who asked legislators to allow all-mail voting this year. Republicans are skeptical, recalling the infamous words of President-elect Barack Obama’s incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, in 2008: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”
Over the past several weeks, elections officials throughout Arizona have worked under extraordinary conditions to put on a fair, free, and safe Presidential Preference Election.
Today, I’m asking Arizona legislators to authorize all-mail elections for August and November. pic.twitter.com/I9pOJWBW2k
— Secretary Katie Hobbs (@SecretaryHobbs) March 18, 2020
Several states already allow voting by mail, though Republicans have warned that California’s system is vulnerable to fraud. There, Democrats legalized a system called “ballot harvesting,” which allows unverified third parties to deliver each other’s ballots — effectively allowing party organizers to bring thousands of ballots to be counted.
Republicans blamed some of their 2018 losses in California on “ballot harvesting.” And Republican efforts to copy Democrats’ tactics have failed because Republicans are generally more reluctant to give their ballots to others.
Clinton is familiar with the value of voting by mail: she was thought to be running neck-and-neck with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in California in the 2016 presidential primary, but then she won by several points — largely because she had a stronger turnout in mail-in ballots. Mail-in ballots also helped her run-up popular vote margins in 2016.