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Senate Democrats push for mail-in voting during COVID-19

Posted at 10:56 PM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 23:56:52-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Could you be voting for president in November by mail? That’s the option state senate Democrats want you to have, to keep the COVID-19 virus at bay.

Senate Democrats have sent Gov. Bill Lee and Secretary of State Tre Hargett a letter asking them to take statewide action amid COVID-19 to allow anyone to ask for a mail-in ballot, without a specific reason, for the upcoming August and November elections.

"We’re not saying just send everybody a ballot and hope for the best," said Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis). "If you don’t meet the criteria of being over 60 years old but you still think its important for you to stay at home to vote, you should be able to do that."

The aim is to avoid crowded voting sites that might spread the virus. Akbari says Three weeks ago in Wisconsin, new cases of COVID-19 were potentially linked to polling sites.

"That's the last thing we want, we don’t want people to have to make that difficult decision," Akbari said. "As a state we shouldn’t choose between the health of our voters and the health of our democracy."

The senators are also asking the state to expand early voting to more locations, and for a longer period, so more people have a chance to vote.

Tuesday, Lee said he hasn’t yet decided what to do.

"Secretary Hargett is working on that, along with the attorney general, and we will be getting his recommendations and getting his input in the weeks ahead," Lee said.

While some local election commissions are already starting to make changes because of COVID-19, Akbari says there should be uniform rules and opportunities to vote statewide.