The November presidential and congressional elections are a little more than four months away, and Congress must act now to help states prepare for a surge in Americans seeking to vote by mail because of pandemic-driven fears that are likely to keep them from voting in person, according to election experts, advocates and lawmakers.
As many as 30 states have already lowered barriers for voters seeking to mail in their ballots because of COVID-19. Some, like Nevada, have gone as far as sending pre-printed mail-in ballots to all registered voters in some counties.
But states scrambling to scale up voting by mail also need to be prepared for voters to show up in person at regular polling places because of glitches in the mailing process or a failure to receive mail-in ballots in advance. That could increase costs not only for new equipment but for staffing to handle both ways to vote, experts say.
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