Wikimedia Commons

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare is appealing to Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema to support changes to the filibuster in order to protect older Americans’ voting rights.  In letters to each senator co-signed by some 40 advocates and political influencers, NCPSSM President and CEO Max Richtman writes that adjusting the Senate filibuster is the only way to safeguard ballot access for seniors if enough Republican Senators won’t support new federal voting rights legislation.  Such legislation is necessary, says Richtman, because of restrictive, new state laws that infringe on seniors’ right to vote by mail.

The National Committee, with millions of members and supporters nationwide (including some 38,000 in Arizona and 12,000 in West Virginia), supported both senators’ campaigns in 2018.

“We urge you to support a narrow change to the filibuster rule to allow the Senate to approve new voting rights legislation by a simple majority vote.   This crucial legislation will help to protect our democracy and the right to vote for all Americans, including older Arizonans and West Virginians who cast ballots by mail.” – Max Richtman, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

At least 14 states have passed new laws that restrict access to the vote. The West Virginia State Senate has approved a bill which would move up the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot from six days before Election Day to 11 days. Meanwhile, Arizona lawmakers enacted legislation to prohibit sending absentee ballots or ballot applications to voters unless requested.

The sole purpose of restrictive, new state laws is to suppress votes that the majority party in these legislatures don’t like. We urge Senator Sinema and Senator Manchin to protect American voters from being disenfranchised — including millions of seniors who otherwise can’t safely make it to the polls. If it becomes clear that adjusting the filibuster is the only option to guarantee voting rights, we hope the Senator will reconsider her position.” – Max Richtman, 9/21/21

Currently, seniors who are immobile, sick, or don’t want to risk being infected by the delta COVID variant can request mail ballots — along with those who cannot drive or lack access to mass transit. Voting by mail allows these older citizens to exercise their constitutional rights in a safe, convenient way. In 2020, the majority of voters over age 65 cast their ballots by mail.

Those who want to restrict that right falsely claim that voting by mail is rife with fraud. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Studies have shown mail-in voting to be consistently free of fraud.  An M.I.T. study found that only 0.00006% of 250 million mail-in votes nationwide were fraudulent. Additionally, scholars at Stanford University analyzing more than twenty years’ worth of data in California, Utah and Washington found vote-by-mail did not advantage one political party over another.

Nevertheless, Republicans in the Arizona legislature and West Virginia state senate bought into the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election results were illegitimate. Arizona’s law is a solution in search of a problem since county election officials recently reported fewer than 200 cases of potential voter fraud out of more than 3 million ballots cast statewide in the 2020 election.

The National Committee implores both senators to stand up for seniors by supporting a narrow change to the filibuster rule to allow the Senate to approve the For the People Act on a simple majority vote. That is the only truly democratic choice.

Read our letters to Senator Sinema and Senator Manchin.