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Rep. Tom Malinowski. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe

Malinowski presses for all-VBM general election in 2020

Congressman: ‘At no point in our nation’s history has a national crisis made it impossible to hold a credible national election’

By David Wildstein, March 22 2020 3:25 pm

Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) is leading a nation drive to prepare for vote-by-mail elections in November 2020 and now has 57 House members backing up his efforts.

Two other New Jersey House members — Reps. Albio Sires (D-West New York), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) – have signed on in support of Malinowski’s efforts to include VBM requirements in the next House bill dealing with COVID-19.

“At no point in our nation’s history has a national crisis made it impossible to hold a credible national election,” Malinowski said.  “The COVID-19 pandemic raises that possibility — it presents unique challenges to regularly scheduled, in person, voting that even war and natural disasters do not.”

Malinowski wants the federal government to address the upcoming elections right away, especially since “it’s becoming increasingly clear that this virus will be with us through the November elections.”

“We may be forced to decide that an all vote by mail election is our only choice if we hope to keep people safe and protect the continuity of our democratic elections,” Malinowski said. “The most important thing we can do is enable states to prepare ahead of time.”

The freshman Democratic congressman made his pitch to congressional leadership in a letter signed by 58 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Upcoming coronavirus legislation should include provisions mandating no excuse early voting and vote by mail options in every state, and make funds available for the rapid implementation of both,” the House member wrote.  “These tools have the benefit of encouraging both turn out and social distancing, ensuring Americans can remain safe while carrying out their civic duty.”

Gov. Phil Murphy has already postponed some local elections until May 12, when nearly 800,000 New Jerseyans will cast their votes only through mail-in ballots.

“States across the country are making similar decisions,” Malinowski said. “Based on the projected timeline of a vaccine for coronavirus, it is vital that we prepare for it to affect the November election.”

The letter from the Members of Congress said that upcoming legislation “should include provisions mandating no excuse early voting and vote by mail options in every state, and make funds available for the rapid implementation of both”

“These tools have the benefit of encouraging both turn out and social distancing, ensuring Americans can remain safe while carrying out their civic duty,” the lawmakers said. “In times of crisis it’s crucial for Americans to see that the basic foundations of our democracy and constitutional system are being protected and maintained.”

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