Dem Convention Becomes Rallying Cry For Casting Ballot Amid Voter Suppression

MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 17: In this screenshot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Former First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the virtual convention on August 17, 2020. The conven... MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 17: In this screenshot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Former First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the virtual convention on August 17, 2020. The convention, which was once expected to draw 50,000 people to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is now taking place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Handout/DNCC via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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August 20, 2020 11:08 p.m.

Mail-in voting is the 2020 Democratic National Convention’s fight song.

Throughout this year’s historically virtual ceremony, Democrats have rallied around the cause of mail-in voting amid GOP efforts to restrict it and to withhold funding from the already cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service that will carry ballots in November.

Speakers returned again and again to the theme of voting by mail and larger efforts to suppress the vote, decrying Trump’s baseless claims that absentee voting leads to fraud. And from the first night of the convention, Democrats signaled that they’re not taking the USPS crisis lightly after the agency warned 46 states that it could not guarantee that all ballots would be delivered in time to be counted.

Here are some remarks from convention speakers highlighting concerns of voter disfranchisement:

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) joined night one’s calls to take the USPS crisis seriously, explaining to convention viewers that marking ballots at home is how they will exercise “one of our most fundamental rights” amid the COVID-19 pandemic, despite Trump’s false claims.

“But despite what the President says, voting by mail has been a secure, prudent option for decades,” Cortez Masto said, before taking aim at Trump by saying that Nevada and America are “not intimidated by you.”

Former first lady Michelle Obama

Obama delivered a poignant speech that addressed the importance of mail-in voting, and included a jab at Trump.

“Right now, folks who know they cannot win fair and square at the ballot box are doing everything they can to stop us from voting,” Obama said, citing the closure of polling places in minority neighborhoods, the purging of voter rolls and referencing how Trump is “lying about the security” of ballots. “We’ve got to request our mail-in ballots right now, tonight, and send them back immediately and follow up to make sure they’re received. And then make sure our friends and families do the same.”

“We have got to grab our comfortable shoes, put on our masks, pack a brown bag dinner and maybe breakfast too, because we’ve got to be willing to stand in line all night if we have to,” she continued.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)

During a surprise opening appearance ahead of her VP acceptance speech, Harris urged voters to figure out a “voting plan” for the November election in light of Trump spreading misinformation and GOP voter suppression efforts.

“Amidst the excitement and enthusiasm for this election, you’ve also heard about obstacles and misinformation and folks making it harder for you to cast a ballot,” Harris said. “We need to ask ourselves, why don’t they want us to vote — why is there so much effort to silence our voices? The answer is because when we vote, things change.”

Hillary Clinton

Clinton urged voters to cast ballots in “overwhelming” numbers as she reflected on her experience losing the 2016 election to Trump.

“Don’t forget: Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose. Take it from me,” Clinton said in a video recorded from her home in Chappaqua, New York. “We need numbers overwhelming, so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”

Barack Obama

The former president got right to the point, arguing that the President and those in power “who benefit from keeping things the way they are” are “counting on your cynicism.”

“They’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote and to convince you that your vote does not matter. That is how they win,” Obama said, before urging early voting.

“Do not let them take away your power, do not let them take away your democracy,” he continued. “Make a plan right now for how you’re going to get involved and vote. Do it as early as you can, and tell your family and friends how they can vote too.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

When asked by night four host Julia Louis-Dreyfus about whether Atlanta is ready for Election Day, Bottoms insisted that her city will be ready and will “do everything that we can to make sure that voting goes smoothly.”

“But we are encouraging people, if you can vote early in your state, to please do so,” Bottoms said, before going on to pay tribute to the late Rep. John Lewis.

“In his parting essay written to us, Congressman Lewis expressed his pride in the activism that has swept our country,” Bottoms said. “And he reminded us that if we fail to exercise our right to vote, we can lose it.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla

In a joint video segment with Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson, Padilla demanded that voters not “let anyone keep you from exercising your most sacred right.”

“Make your plan to vote. Grab your mask and head to the polls the first day they’re open. Or request your ballot and send it in right away,” Padilla said. “Know this. Election results may take a little longer this year, but Democrats will fight to make sure your ballot is counted.”

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