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Rep. Demings Introduces “Every Vote Counts Act”

June 15, 2021
Press Release
“The right to vote is the foundation of American democracy.”

Washington, D.C.: Reps. Val Demings (FL-10), today introduced the “Every Vote Counts Act,” new legislation to protect every American’s right to easily, safely, and securely cast their vote.

Said Rep. Demings, “American voters turned out in record numbers in 2020. With voting rights under attack across the country, it is critical that we protect mail-in voting and drop boxes, which allowed millions of Americans to vote safely and securely last year, including many with disabilities or other limitations that make going to a polling location difficult.

“Let’s not be distracted by politically-motivated lies which seek the undermine faith in our elections. The Department of Homeland Security under President Trump reported that last year’s election was the most secure in our nation’s history. Unfortunately, Republicans in state legislatures across the country are seeking political advantage by attempting to stop certain people from voting. When we take away someone’s vote, we take away their voice.

“As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr explained, ‘’So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind—it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact—I can only submit to the edict of others.’”

“Every American must have the opportunity to vote—no matter their political affiliation.”

Said Rep. Sarbanes, “This important effort will strengthen election security and expand access to the ballot box for millions of Americans across the country. I salute Congresswoman Demings for her commitment and leadership in our critical fight for voting rights.” Congressman Sarbanes chairs the Democracy Reform Task Force and assembled the For the People Act – a transformative anti-corruption and voting rights bill.

Said Jon Greenbaum, Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: “As politicians across the country move to limit the use of ballot drop boxes and place unnecessary and overly burdensome requirements on mail-in ballots, we need the Every Vote Counts Act to make certain every voter can cast their ballot and have that ballot count. Signature matching requirements and the restriction of ballot drop boxes have negative effects on Black Americans and other communities of color. This bill will put a stop to these discriminatory acts, and encourage all Americans to go out and make their voice heard. Our democracy demands participation to represent the will of the people.”

Said Tony DePalma, Director of Public Policy at Disability Rights Florida, “At both the national and state levels, there are ongoing policy discussions occurring that will ultimately impact the voting interests and opportunities of voters with disabilities, a voting bloc that included nearly 15 million voters during the 2018 midterm elections. Too often, these discussions have commenced or been completed without the perspective or input of voters with disabilities themselves. Disability Rights Florida applauds and supports introduction of the Every Vote Counts Act which presents Congress with the opportunity to consider barriers to voting such as signature verification and drop box accessibility in terms that are relevant and meaningful to voters with disabilities in our states and across the nation.”

Background

The Every Vote Counts Act will require every state to implement a ballot tracking system for vote by mail, require every county in America to have ballot drop boxes, and require NIST and the Election Assistance Commission to develop standards for alternatives for signature matching verification requirements for vote by mail.

According to the Voting Rights Lab,

  • Three million Floridians aged 55 and up chose to cast their ballot by mail in 2020, as did an estimated 52% of Florida’s veterans and active duty military.
  • Mail voting did not just become popular with Florida voters in 2020. It was the most popular method of voting among the senior population in both the 2020 and 2018 election cycles.
  • 68% of Florida voters support the use of drop boxes. Florida is one of ten states where alternative drop-off locations (like drop boxes) must be provided in every jurisdiction, but Republicans have worked to limit access to this voting method by restricting drop box locations and adding additional burdensome requirements.

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