Voting by mail is the safest way to cast a ballot for many voters, whether they are immunocompromised, have a disability, or simply want to protect the health of their community. Six voters from across the country shared with us why they want to vote by mail, and why it should be an option for all voters. No excuses.
“I have voted in every general election since 1972. The right to vote is my tool to manage those conditions that I want for my country, my children and my old age. Failure to vote is simply to alienate myself from what I criticize of the current government and give it all my rights, without any consequence.
However, this year I am afraid of voting in person because I am high-risk to COVID-19 due to my age and asthma.”
—Belia Ocasio, 67
“As a Black man with a Black child who is immunocompromised, being able to vote by mail would make me feel so much better about our safety and our ability to have our voice heard.
My daughter had open heart surgery six days after she was born. Since then, by a miraculous gift of God, she’s recovered to the point where she is able to function, but it still leaves her immunocompromised when it comes to her lungs and her heart.
I’m in a unique position to be able to advocate for my daughter, not just for absentee voting but for her wellbeing. The world is a dangerous place right now. Being able to vote by mail would give me a sense of protection while also ensuring I can exercise my right to vote and have a say in the direction this country’s going.”
—Cecil Wattree, 34
Kansas City, MO
“The first time I voted was for Eisenhower in 1952. I’ve voted in almost every election ever since. When I was diagnosed with legal blindness a few years ago, I wouldn’t let it stop me. Absentee voting has made voting accessible to me. It allows me to continue my lifelong tradition of voting while safeguarding my health.”
—Barbara Ebright, 90
“I hate to say it, but if I’m not able to vote absentee, I just may have to regretfully sit this one out. It saddens me to even think about that because we’ve waited so long for the opportunity to vote again. The time is approaching us. And now a lot of us are stuck in a situation where voting is a matter of life or death.
My doctor told me that if I am exposed to COVID-19, it could be fatal due to my asthma and hereditary angioedema. But whether or not someone has a health condition, we have a deadly virus on the loose. We should all have the right to not only vote, but to be safe in doing that. I urge everyone to find out what absentee voting is and speak out. Let your voice be heard.”
—Kamisha Webb, 42
Kansas City, MO
“As an essential worker, I come into contact with my community every day on my mail delivery route. I’ve talked to a good amount of people about [absentee voting]. I think that people will be more likely to vote if they can do it from home with an absentee ballot.
I live right by my voting place, but lines are out the door before it even opens. I don’t think I should have to call into work to go vote.
Voting is a basic, fundamental part of a democracy and it needs to be viewed more as a celebration and an essential part of every American’s duty.”
—Javier Del Villar, 29
Lee’s Summit, MO
“Expanding access to vote by mail has been a major step toward accessibility because it allows people with disabilities to avoid the challenges of getting to the polls, waiting in line, and facing physical barriers at a polling place.
A dozen states have expanded access to vote by mail for some elections this year. But there’s still more work to be done to make sure the right to vote applies to everyone, including people with disabilities.”
—Jim Dickson, 74
Across the country, access to voting by mail has garnered bipartisan support as many states act to expand access. States should do more by expanding early vote periods, preparing for a surge in absentee ballots, and doing away with unnecessary requirements like getting a witness signature or having to pay for postage. At the same time, voting in person must remain an accessible option for all voters.
Voting is a fundamental right, and nobody should have to risk their health to exercise it.