Letter: Voting by mail is safe, secure and accessible

The Detroit News

As we approach the November election, officials must prepare to safeguard our elections — not scare voters from making their voices heard.

Michigan is taking steps to provide voters with safe voting options by mailing all registered voters an absentee ballot application. Citizens shouldn't have to choose between their health and their right to vote. The Detroit News editorial, “Purge ineligible voters ahead of vote by mail” (June 21), dismisses this point entirely.

Election officials must maintain accurate voter lists. But as we know in states from Ohio to Georgia, some “list maintenance” practices resulted in eligible voters, especially voters of color, unfairly being kicked off the voter rolls. Eligible voters should never get stripped of their right to vote through wrongful voter purges.

Voting by mail in Michigan includes protections for voters and our democracy, the authors write.

Voting by mail has been shown to be safe, secure and accessible. It works well for states like Colorado and Washington. It works well for our military service members. Over two-thirds of Michigan voters supported Proposal 3 in 2018, which explicitly gives voters the right to vote by mail for any reason.

Voting by mail in Michigan includes protections for voters and our democracy. The signature on your absentee ballot application must match your official signature on file for you to be mailed a ballot; your signature is again verified when you sign your ballot envelope, and when your mailed ballot is received it is recorded in the state’s Qualified Voter File so you cannot vote more than once.

Any argument to the contrary distracts from the real work that must be done.

Officials should take concrete actions to demystify the vote-by-mail process and increase their efforts to educate voters through social media, texting campaigns and other effective methods.

Officials must provide widespread dropboxes and satellite polling locations — and clearly communicate those locations — so voters will have more options to vote in the weeks before Election Day, and be less likely to have to wait in unnecessary, long lines.

Encouraging voting by mail does not detract from those who may still prefer to vote in person. Officials still need to protect in-person options. Officials must keep enough polling places open to prevent voters from waiting more than 30 minutes in line, adequately staff these polling places, and provide personal protective equipment to poll workers. The long lines and election chaos we have seen in states like Georgia do not need to happen here.

Lastly, the federal government must help our state prepare. The U.S. Senate must pass the HEROES Act immediately, which allocates an additional $3.6 billion in funding for elections nationwide.

Time is of the essence, and officials can prepare now to ensure all eligible voters can cast a ballot in August, November and beyond.

Kamilia K. Landrum, executive director, Detroit Branch NAACP 

Aghogho Edevbie, Michigan state director, All Voting is Local