Editor’s Note: Kate Brown is the 38th governor of Oregon and co-chair of Every State Every Vote, a project of the Democratic Governors Association and Fair Fight. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. Read more opinion articles on CNN.
Last week, the Democratic Party wrapped up a convention like none other, marked by unity across a broad spectrum of Americans, and I am looking towards a general election like none other. Still, I fear the events that might follow could test our country’s ability to stand as United States.
I saw firsthand in the streets of Portland how President Donald Trump responds to voices of opposition, and people of color, veterans and mothers have felt that response with their bodies. He intentionally sent federal agents into our streets to create a political photo op and strike fear into those who stand to oppose him in the future. These are the tactics we only ever expect to see on the news in faraway troubled countries.
As Election Day approaches, the President appears desperate.
That’s why I and a group of my fellow governors are here to say that Americans don’t deserve a period of instability after the election, especially not after the instability that the pandemic has already brought to our communities. We are committed to carrying out a safe and secure election, both to protect Americans’ right to vote and to protect Americans’ way of life.
As the pandemic exacerbates existing inequities across the country, many governors have recognized the potential for voter disenfranchisement that risks deepening our divisions. Unfortunately, suppressing the right to vote seems to be President Trump’s core campaign tactic.
He regularly claims, with little evidence, that mail-in voting is not secure and has even resorted to warning that ballot drop boxes could be tainted with Covid-19. But as if instilling fear in the American public isn’t enough, the President’s administration is actively attempting to impede the United States Postal Service’s ability to process mail-in ballots.
The Covid-19 pandemic is fundamentally changing every facet of the way Americans work and live. Our nation faces an unprecedented challenge to protect the health and lives of millions. But as we face such a fight, we cannot let our constitutional right to free and fair elections suffer as an expense.
That’s why I have brought together the governors of California, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Nevada, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Michigan to pledge to uphold the integrity of the general election and work to ensure that voting is safe, accessible and secure. These are not just words on a page. These are commitments to ensure confidence in the integrity of the election, in light of unprecedented attacks on voting rights and voting access by the President and his administration.
As we work to defeat this virus, no aspect of our society will remain untouched, and that means we also need to take steps so people do not have to choose between their health and safety and their right to vote.
We eight governors commit to:
- Carry out the general election as mandated by law on November 3.
- Work with our respective state and local level election officials to ensure that the right to vote is accessible, safe, and secure.
- In coordination with election officials, communicate with voters about the possibility of delayed results in some states due to the increased use of mail-in voting and about the status of the count post-election
- Ensure electoral college electors vote as they are pledged, in line with the Supreme Court’s decision in Chiafalo v Washington on July 6
- Ensure that any substantive allegations of voter disenfranchisement or elections fraud are quickly and thoroughly investigated
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Election Day will in all likelihood be Election Week this year. It is not new to our system, but will seem new to most Americans. The President, in actions and deeds, appears committed to undermining any result that is not in his favor. Fears he will use confusion about the process of validating the vote to crack down on dissent aren’t unfounded; he repeats his intentions daily.
When the fabric of our society is frayed, the foundation of our democracy – safe and secure elections – must remain strong.