Michelle Obama's voting rights group has joined a new push to expand voting-by-mail options as lockdown measures extend further into election season. The group, When We All Vote, is supporting Democratic legislation that would require states to offer absentee voting to all voters. This is the first time the nonpartisan group, whose co-chairs include Tom Hanks, has supported federal legislation. "There is nothing partisan about striving to live up to the promise of our country; making the democracy we all cherish more accessible; and protecting our neighbors, friends, and loved ones as they participate in this cornerstone of American life," the former first lady said in a statement to Axios. President Trump has claimed that mail-in ballots "substantially" increase the risk of "crime and voter fraud."
"No American should have to choose between making their voice heard and staying safe," Michelle Obama tweeted Monday. "Expanding access to #VoteByMail, online voter registration and early voting are critical steps for this moment—they’re also long overdue." The legislation the group is supporting, the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020, was introduced by Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Amy Klobuchar last month. The legislation calls for 20 days of in-person early voting and absentee vote-by-mail in all states. It also adds $500 million in federal funds to prepare state election systems for the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reports. (Read more Michelle Obama stories.)