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Story Publication logo May 27, 2020

Democracy by Mail

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A mail-in ballot. Image by CL Shebley / Shutterstock. United States, 2018.
A mail-in ballot. Image by CL Shebley / Shutterstock. United States, 2018.

With a presidential election looming in November, state legislatures and activists have taken the lead implementing mail-in voting systems to protect voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting Fellow alum Kiran Misra writes for Belt Magazine about the challenges behind these measures, and how mail-in voting affects marginalized communities across the Midwest. Jay Young, the Executive Director of Common Cause Illinois, tells Misra that states must create mail-in ballots tailored to their diverse populations: "If the state starts mailing ballots, there's concerns about what languages these ballots will be in, plus any complimentary and educational materials that come with it. Will they be culturally competent?"

Organizers also look to dispel the notion, touted by President Trump, that mail-in voting impedes fair elections. CEO of Vote at Home and former Director of Elections for the State of Colorado, explains to Misra that "There won't be four-hour lines because of machine malfunctions or there not being enough voting booths and in-person polling locations. [And] voters also won't have to face intimidation at polling places."

Misra was our 2018 Reporting Fellow for the University of Chicago, where she received her BA in Public Policy and Human Rights and later graduated from the MPP program at the Harris School of Public Policy. She currently works as a consultant at the United Nations World Food Programme and has written freelance articles for publications including The Guardian and The Juggernaut.

To read the full story, visit Belt Magazine.

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