As United Methodists we “hold governments responsible for the protection of the rights of the people to free and fair elections” believing that “the form and the leaders of all governments should be determined by exercise of the right to vote guaranteed to all adult citizens.” (2016 Book of Discipline, ¶164A)
In the United States, generations of advocates fought to expand the right to vote beyond the original electorate of land-owning white men. And despite constitutional guarantees, this right to vote continues to be under attack by ever-shifting tactics that suppress voter turnout and disenfranchise communities of color. In response to the continued systemic racism that undermines the guarantee of the right to vote to all citizens, The United Methodist Church specifically calls for re-instating and strengthening voting rights protections. (2016 Book of Resolutions 3378: Racism and Economic Justice Against People of Color)
This year, protecting the right to free, fair and safe elections is made all the more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic. Quite simply, voting should be an act of faithful civic engagement, not a threat to one’s health. With adequate planning and funding, states can and must ensure that elections are accessible and safe for voters and election workers.