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Phillips Introduces Bill to Protect Fundamental Right to Vote During Crisis

The Voter NOTICE Act would fund information campaigns to raise awareness about election changes

Today, Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) introduced legislation to ensure that every voter is informed how to vote safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Voter Notification of Timely Information about Changes in Elections (NOTICE) Act would require that every state provide robust and accessible information campaigns to inform voters of any election process changes that are made in response to COVID-19. In addition, the legislation will make certain that election officials can access funds immediately to provide these communications. 

“Elections absolutely must occur as scheduled on November 3rd,” said Representative Phillips. “We need to ensure that they are held safely, securely, and fairly. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to make unprecedented changes to our daily lives, and we must ensure that all Americans have the information necessary to participate in our democracy.”

Many states are looking to shore up safety procedures by making changes to voting processes that have been in place for years. Some states are looking to expand vote by mail, others are looking to expand no-excuse absentee ballots, and others are looking to expand early voting and polling site access to help voters follow social distancing guidelines. All of these measures will help protect our citizens’ rights to participate safely in our democracy. But none of these reforms will be effective unless they are clearly communicated to the public.   

The meet this challenge, the Voter NOTICE Act would:

  • Require election officials to send mail notice to every registered voter of any change to a state’s election rules. Those officials would also have to produce TV and social media information campaigns to promote awareness of these changes.
  • Provide best practices to election officials so that online communications are accessible for the disability community, and will allow election officials to use their funding without action from state legislatures – a vital component given that many legislatures have adjourned due to the ongoing pandemic. 

“Voters shouldn’t have to choose between their health and their vote,” said Tiffany Muller, president of Let America Vote and End Citizens United, which have endorsed the legislation. “As states make changes to their voting procedures during this crisis, it’s critical the public has all the information they need to cast their ballots. We applaud Rep. Phillips for his commitment to protecting our democracy and ensuring everyone has access to it.”