U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner, and Tim Kaine, urged Virginia’s election registrars to do everything in their power to ensure that all Virginians can access their right to vote amid controversial reforms to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the ongoing public health emergency.
In a letter, Warner, D- Alexandria, and Kaine, D- Richmond, strongly encouraged the Commonwealth’s 133 registrars to take advantage of the steps Virginia recently took to expand early voting and to ensure that no American is forced to choose between their right to vote and their health.
“We understand you are currently preparing to handle the anticipated surge in absentee voting, both in-person and by mail, and we urge you to be thoughtful about those steps, particularly in light of delays in the processing of mail as a result of changes made to the U.S. Postal Service,” wrote the Senators. “We urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that both of these important safeguards of the American franchise can be fully exercised, including by working with your local governance body to expand the number of satellite sites where in-person absentee voting is available and the number of business hours during which those sites are open.”
The letter stated, “The Commonwealth of Virginia has made major strides in recent years to increase access to the franchise. Prior to the current public health emergency, Virginia not only expanded early voting opportunities, but also implemented no-excuse absentee voting. We urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that both of these important safeguards of the American franchise can be fully exercised, including by expanding the number of sites where in-person absentee voting is available and the number of hours during which those sites are open.”
The letter followed the implementation of sweeping operational changes to the Postal Service that have significantly delayed mail, in what many have called an attempt by the Trump Administration to undermine mail-in voting ahead of the November election. This comes as more and more Americans look to mail-in voting and other convenience voting opportunities in order to participate in the election while staying safe during the ongoing pandemic.
In their letter, Warner and Kaine also asked the registrars to immediately alert the Senators and officials at the Virginia Department of Elections regarding any constraints in safeguarding voting, including in securing resources to organize safe polling locations or finding adequate numbers of poll workers to staff early voting sites.
Warner and Kaine have been vocal proponents of securing Americans’ right to vote and of reversing any changes to USPS that have affected the reliability of mail delivery. Earlier this week, the Senators called on the Postmaster General to testify before Congress and provide clear, transparent answers on service delays. Last week, they joined their colleagues in a letter asking the Postmaster General not to take any further action that makes it harder and more expensive for states and election jurisdictions to mail ballots. Sen. Warner has also demanded immediate action to ensure that Veterans and the VA can count on USPS for the timely delivery of essential prescription drugs, and he has pressed the Postmaster General regarding Virginians’ concerns about delayed mail service.