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Contact: Eliza Moreno
The UCLA Voting Rights Project has issued recommendations in partnership with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to urge officials across the nation to make changes to protect voters’ public health.
LOS ANGELES -- The UCLA Voting Rights Project has partnered with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to urge officials across the nation to implement universal vote by mail with a set of best practices and recommendations informed by a medical perspective in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Voting by mail is significantly safer than voting in person given just how infectious COVID-19 is proving to be. This pandemic offers an urgent opportunity for us to transition to a vote by mail system that protects public health in the short term and in the long term will increase voter participation,” said Dr. Annabelle de St. Maurice, a UCLA Health infectious disease specialist who consulted on the project.
The recommendations are part of ongoing advocacy by the UCLA Voting Rights Project and the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative. They are pushing for the implementation of universal vote by mail for upcoming primaries and the November general election out of concern that the current public health crisis and efforts to encourage “social distancing” will depress voter turnout, particularly for voters of color and other underrepresented groups.
The recommendations made in partnership with the medical experts, state that vote by mail is a safe option to prevent the spread of coronavirus and underscores the health risks that in-person voting poses for poll workers and those who head to the ballot box in person.
“The 2020 elections are expected to be a record year for turnout among voters of color, young people and other groups that have a significant stake in the future of this country,” said Matt Barreto, co-founder of the UCLA Voting Rights Project, a project of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative. “Voting officials across the nation need to act now to protect the right to vote for all citizens and to ensure that people can fulfill their democratic rights in the safest and easiest way possible. Universal vote by mail ensures that everyone has access to the ballot box.”
The recommendations to implement universal vote by mail are based on the following medically based findings:
● Based on studies about the length of time coronavirus can survive on paper products and hygiene protocols established by the United States Postal Service, mailed ballots represent a low risk for potential contamination.
● The viability of coronavirus is longer on plastic and metal surfaces, which are common in polling places, thereby increasing infection risk to those voting in person.
● Hygiene protocols such as constant cleaning and disinfecting, hand washing and social distancing can be expensive and would be difficult to implement at polling places.
● Public health guidelines should drive the implementation of a universal vote by mail system.
About the UCLA Voting Rights Project
The UCLA Voting Rights Project (VRP) is the marquee advocacy project of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) at the University of California, Los Angeles and is focused on voting rights litigation, research, policy and training. The UCLA Voting Rights Project addresses monumental and overlooked gaps in the field of voting rights – how to train young lawyers and researchers, support the development of new legal and methodological theories for voting rights cases, and how to advance policy work to ensure there is a new generation of leaders who are pursuing efforts to guarantee all citizens have equal and fair access to our democracy. The project was founded by Chad W. Dunn, J.D. and Matt Barreto, Ph.D. The UCLA Voting Rights Project is located within the Luskin School of Public Affairs and works in coordination with the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative.
To learn more about the UCLA Voting Rights Project, visit https://latino.ucla.edu/votingrights