The 2020 election cycle shed light on the uneven, underfunded, and often suppressive nature of American voting systems that are designed by partisan state legislatures, and implemented by hard working, but often overwhelmed, county and municipal election administrators.
The U.S. election system ecosystem essentially operates within three domains: administration, access, and protection. Many citizens are aware of efforts to protect the fundamental right to vote. Where there is a risk of voter disenfranchisement, it can be overcome through proper planning and funding of elections to address inequities in the system. Some examples include:
- Increasing the number of polling locations
- Increasing the number of early voting days and hours
- Simplifying the rules by which people can vote by mail
Like so many others, Mountain anticipated a contentious 2020 election cycle. Among other priorities we honed in on the systems that enable all Americans the chance to exercise their right to vote. In late 2019, Mountain began to resource vital state and national organizations whose early efforts laid the foundation for dramatic increases in the ability of all our citizens to vote. Results include:
- 37,000 additional voting hours and improved absentee witness requirements in North Carolina.
- 15 additional early vote sites in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and 180 polling locations on election day, up from 5 during the primary.
- More than 3 million vote by mail registrations in Pennsylvania, massively outperforming expectations.
- Doubled the number of early voting locations available in several major counties in Texas.
- Eliminated or improved signature matching requirements in Michigan.
- Protected or created ballot receipt deadlines so ballots postmarked on election day would be counted in several states.
Mindful that efforts to make voting more accessible would be contentious, in parallel Mountain provided funds to a number of election protection organizations able to advance litigation on behalf of citizens disenfranchised by bad practices, as well as help individual voters defend or cure ballot issues.