With the coronavirus pandemic raising questions about how Americans are going to cast their votes later this year, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has hired a national director for voter protection.
Biden campaign spokesman Matt Hill tweeted Tuesday:
"Rachana Desai Martin, @RachuDM, will be joining @JoeBiden's campaign as National Director for Voter Protection and Senior Counsel. Voting is at the heart of our democracy, and @TeamJoe is committed to making sure everybody's voices are heard."
Martin previously worked as chief operating officer of the Democratic National Committee and the DNC's director of civic engagement and voter protection.
She will work on the disenfranchisement of people of color amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted people of color, especially black Americans who represent an outsized number of infections and deaths. An Associated Press analysis last month found more than one-third of those who have died are African American.
The push for voter protection rights has only intensified in recent weeks, after some primary elections, including Milwaukee's on April 7, sparked concern that voters were forced to wait in long lines to cast their ballots. Some health officials have warned the coronavirus could spread at polling places.
Several states are looking at remote voting possibilities. Michigan's Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said last week all registered Michigan voters were sent absentee ballot applications. The move drew the ire of President Donald Trump, who threatened to hold up federal funding.
Separately, the Republican National Committee and other Republican groups filed a lawsuit against California to try to stop the state from mailing absentee ballots to voters ahead of the November election.
Conservatives and Trump are generally adamant Americans should show up to vote, if not prove their identity at the polling station, a call frequently made by Republicans but rejected by Democrats as voter suppression.
Trump bashed mail-in voting via Twitter on Tuesday:
"There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one.
"That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!"
Voter protection will play a central role in Biden's overall election strategy, the campaign said, noting several states over the past few years have passed laws relating to voter ID and purges of voter rolls that could make it harder for people to vote. The campaign said it also expects significant disinformation campaigns targeted at potential voters.
Last year, Georgia made national headlines when it purged nearly 309,000 voter registrations from the state's voting rolls.
An AP poll from late April found Americans' support for mail-in voting has increased amid concerns about the safety of polling places during the coronavirus pandemic, but a wide partisan divide suggests Trump's public campaign against vote by mail might be resonating with his Republican backers.
The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found Democrats are now much more likely than Republicans to support their state conducting elections exclusively by mail, 47% to 29%.
In 2018, about half as many Democrats were in favor, and there was little difference in the views of Democrats and Republicans on the question.
Information from The Associated Press was used throughout this report.
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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