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D.C. Mulls Keeping COVID-Related Changes to Voting Process

D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), impressed with how the city responded to the 2020 general election amid the coronavirus pandemic, has introduced legislation to keep many of the pandemic-related tweaks to the voting process in place for good.

The Elections Modernization Amendment Act of 2021, sponsored by Allen and co-sponsored by six of his colleagues, would make permanent many of the voting changes that occurred due to the pandemic in last year’s election cycle, WTOP reported.

Among the changes included in the legislation are making voting by mail a permanent option, adding 100 ballot drop boxes throughout the city, establishing voting centers for early voters and making the day of the general election a public holiday for public school employees.

“There are times when necessity is the mother of invention, and that’s exactly what we saw when a pandemic and a general election collided,” Allen said in a news release, WTOP reported. “D.C. held a safe, secure and accessible election by making it easier to vote and safe to vote from home. These are common-sense and popular changes we need to make a permanent part of our elections moving forward. In doing so, we will broaden the number of people who are able to participate in our elections and feel more invested in their government.”

Allen’s bill must pass out of committee, go before a vote in front of the full council, get the signature of Mayor Muriel Bowser and clear a congressional review before it becomes law.

The District’s next election is the June 21 party primaries, when voters will nominate candidates for D.C. delegate, mayor, attorney general, council chairman, an at-large council position and Wards 1, 3, 5 and 6 council spots.

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