Americans in states all across the country could start work on a federal election day and avoid the extreme worker's penalty of not having their vote counted in the democratic election if the states had a universal right to vote by mail. The deep rooted obstruction to voting, taking time off work, for now, remains a barrier to full voting Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) is asking every state in the U.S. to agree to fix.
San Diegans can count on "no-excuse" absentee voting as citizens of California. But, twenty one states restrict the ability to use a mail ballot to vote in a federal election.
The campaign to add federal protection for the universal right to vote by mail to the Help America Vote Act gained a foothold a week ago when Davis' proposal to remove all requirements for voting by mail from state laws was added to the Voter Empowerment Act congressman John Lewis (Georgia) introduced in the House.
Davis had just taken a second chance at passing her own legislation Barbara Lee supported called the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act.
"A priority of the government should be to eliminate barriers to voting because our nation is stronger when we're all involved in the decision-making," Davis said after her proposal gained the attention of a lengthy list of labor and political rights leaders in California, and in states across the country. Lee joined the group signed on to Lewis' bill. A group that counts the lead labor legislator George Miller and political rights advocates Judy Chu and Anna G Eshoo among its ranks.
The need to get a notary signature to cast a mail vote would end in states that make their citizens handle the additional cost and the inconvenience, or throw out their own vote.
State officials would prove the credibility of a citizens mail ballot by comparing the signature on the ballot with the voter's signature on the state registration list to confirm he voter's identity. A requirement Lewis added to Davis' federal guarantee for workers.
Die hard supporters will not abandon the voting rights campaign.
There is no turning back to the days, half a century ago, the poll tax prevented Americans from voting for their candidates on the slate. "Antiquated rules" that tell working citizens their voting official is owed an excuse before they can vote by mail, one that is not "I have to work," stand in the way of a full freedom to vote, by act, in an election, but there is opportunity to convince Democrats in both the House, and the Senate, to agree on not leaving anyone out of the decisions made in American politics.
No worries about an illness making a worker lose their opportunity to vote.
This latest version of a voting rights bill gives many Americans help who have a special situation that can keep them at standby until victory or defeat has already been decided. An enacted voting rights law would give all people who work certainty they can cast a ballot.
American service men and women could travel overseas without any citizen regrets. Any time sending them their ballots was held up past the 45 day limit, the ballot would go out by express mail, or for those who chose, by electronic mail.
The bill Lewis put on the 113th Congress' agenda would do much more than save time for the voters who currently have to stand in long lines to vote at the polls. An early voting option that gives a worker to vote without getting out of step at work, starting January 1st in 2014, still is possible. Nothing unreasonable asked of the San Diego voter. Just a place to vote within walking distance.
This is an On The Watch Take.