6 Ways to Keep Our Democracy Healthy During COVID-19

May 8, 2020

Illustration of people standing in a polling place line, 6 feet apart.

Let’s talk about elections for a minute. Yes, we agree that the world feels crazy right now. But as we do everything in our power to fight this virus, it’s important to remember that what we’re fighting for is a better future. And preserving our democracy is vital to that.

We’ve always believed that democracy only works when it works for everyone. But the coronavirus crisis is threatening our democracy — and our right to vote — by forcing officials to postpone and cancel elections, and forcing voters with no alternative to in-person polling to choose between casting a vote and their health. And there is always the danger that without reforms, some politicians could try to use the coronavirus crisis to reduce voter turnout for partisan gain. We think that needs to be fixed.

Take Action Now!

Tell Congress to Expand Voting Access During COVID-19

We Need Voting Reform Right Now

In America, we shouldn’t have to choose between public health and a functioning democracy — especially with a presidential election coming up in November. At Ben & Jerry’s, we’re standing with the ACLU, state and local governments, and scores of voter advocacy groups to demand that Congress fund alternatives to in-person voting in the next COVID relief package.

Everyone deserves the chance to cast their vote however works best for them, whether that’s via no-excuse absentee voting, expanded early voting, vote by mail, or something else. And nope — it’s not as simple as allowing everyone to vote by mail, as that excludes people without internet or a physical address, as well as those who need special assistance they can only get in person at a polling station. For that reason, closing in-person polling stations isn’t the answer: It’s time to expand our menu of voting options, and it’s time for the government to step up and help.

Here’s what we’re proposing:


  • 1. Accessible Online Voter Registration for All 50 States

    If you’re not registered, you can’t vote. We need to make it quick and easy for all eligible voters to register online, and — because we all know and love a few procrastinators out there — we’re calling for same-day voter registration so you can show up, sign up, and rock the vote, all at the same time.

  • 2. Expanded Early In-Person Voting

    Work, school, childcare, natural disasters, plumbing explosions — there are a million things that can throw your day out of whack. That’s why we’re calling for expanded early in-person voting to allow people to cast their ballot at a time that works for their schedule. (Here in Vermont you can vote a whopping 45 days before elections.) That improves access for everyone, as research shows that closing in-person polling places overwhelmingly discriminates against voters of color, older voters, rural voters, and voters with disabilities.

  • 3. Safer Polling Places

    Expanded early voting options mean fewer people flooding the polling stations on Election Day, but we still need to step up safety precautions around in-person voting. That means moving polling places from residential sites to protect the people who live there, and being prepared to clean and disinfect them per CDC guidelines. And, sorry — no shaking hands or kissing babies. We’re calling for a “get in and get out” approach to voting, plus personal protective equipment for all poll workers and voters.

  • 4. No-Excuse Mail-in Voting

    Some news reports out there would have you believe mail-in voting is a disaster — but when done right, we believe expanding mail-in voting can help keep the fires of democracy alive. We’re calling for “no-excuse” vote-by-mail, in which every registered voter automatically gets a ballot without having to request it — no prior approval or notarized signatures required.

  • 5. Widespread Voter Education

    Americans (well, the lucky ones anyway) cast their first votes in 1776. Old habits die hard, and making fundamental changes to the way we vote will take time, education, and resources. It’s essential that every voter knows how, when, and where to cast their vote.

  • 6. We Need Federal Funds to Uphold Our Democracy

    Like you, we’re feeling pretty overwhelmed, sad, and yes, a bit stir-crazy as this crisis continues to upend our worlds. But in standing arm-in-(virtual)-arm with the ACLU and many others focused on preserving every person’s right to a safe, healthy, fair democracy, we feel hope, not despair. Our democracy is fundamental to what makes our country great. And we believe that’s worth fighting for. Join us.

Take Action Now!

Tell Congress to Expand Voting Access During COVID-19