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No evidence of 'any significant fraud within our mail-in voting system': Pres. League of Women Voters

The U.S. League of Women Voters celebrates its 100th Anniversary this year, coinciding with the same anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the vote. The League's President, Dr. Deborah Turner joins Yahoo Finance to weigh in on the upcoming election and strides made by women.

Video Transcript

- This month, we marked the 100 anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. And there is a lot to celebrate, I would say as well, especially with Kamala Harris being added to the ticket with Joe Biden, from a gender perspective. Let's talk to Deborah Turner now. She is the League of Women Voters of the US President. She's joining us from Omaha, Nebraska. And it's all part of our Women in money series, brought to you by USAA.

Deborah, it is great to see you. Thank you for joining us. So we, it's been 100 years since women got the right to vote. I'm curious about how we're using it as women. In other words, when you look at the percentage of women who vote versus men, when you look at accessibility for women, who also, in many cases, have a lot on their plate, how do you think we're doing on that front?

DEBORAH TURNER: Well, first of all, thank you for having me. And it's exciting to be here to talk about this issue. And as you may know, the theme for the league this year is that women power the vote. And it's really important to understand that women have been voting in significant numbers for a long time. And in fact, if you look back historically, more women voted in presidential elections since 1980 than men have.

And actually, last year, in 2018, there were 10 million more women actually registered to vote in America than there were men. And the turnout was greater for women. So we are truly powering the vote. And we are speaking with our voices.

The problem that we have-- we had issued from the beginning, the time that we actually gained the right to vote-- and not, were not given the right to vote, but gained the right to vote-- was that initially, in 1920, all women did not have access. And it wasn't till 1965 that many groups, particularly Black women and women of color, in many areas of the country, were able to actually exercise that right. And they've been exercising it fiercely since that time. -

- Muted. Still muted. Ms. Turner, I think it's amazing for a lot of us that we live in a period where there's still an active effort to disenfranchise people from the vote. And we know about the headlines to deal with those issues. But what about, for instance, New York state? It's one thing to have absentee mail in ballots. But it was a travesty, the counting, the way that they couldn't count ballots here. What needs to happen behind the scenes to get the 50 states and the election offices-- because it's all different-- up to speed for the current era in which we live?

DEBORAH TURNER: There are a couple things that need to happen. One, first to all, the public has to recognize that this is a problem, so that they can reach out to their elected officials who make these decisions, or their voting representatives, or their elections commission within their states, within their counties, within their cities.

The other thing is that we, as a country have to decide that voting is such a critical part of democracy. Let's face it. That's what a democracy means-- one person, one vote. Is your vote that counts. That's your voice in your government. And we have to be willing to put the money behind voting. We have to be able to fund voting machinery. We have to be to fund voting election commissions. We have to be able to fund the US post office. We need to do the things that help the vote to move forward.

And until we are really committed to that, they are going to be many people who continue to be disenfranchised, when it comes to voting in our country. And that's what the league works for. We work continually doing this. We have been involved in many situations in multiple states around voter suppression issues, around, within litigation and advocacy, and voter education, which is one of our really, really strong suits.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey, Deborah. Rick Newman here. So let me put that in the context of what seems to be happening for real in the election we're in right now. I mean, President Trump has all but said that he opposes mail in voting, because he thinks more people would vote. So what what's your level of concern about that, and other evidence that-- I mean, I don't mean to make this partisan. But it really does seem to be the Republican Party that is trying to keep some people from voting, especially in minority communities. What is your level of concern about that?

DEBORAH TURNER: Well, like many organizations around the country, we are always concerned about voter suppression, no matter what form it comes in, the closing polling sites being the [INAUDIBLE], more restrictions for people to actually register. And we are concerned about what is happening around mail-in voting. Our message is that at this point in our country, there is no clear evidence that there is any significant fraud within our mail-in voting system. There are many states that have been using this successfully for years and years. I myself have now mailed-in voted many times.

And we have to educate the public to understand, this is a safe and non-fraudulent way of voting. The idea that we should require, however, any voter to vote in a very specific way is also not-- it's against the league. We feel that voters should have the opportunity to vote in the way that they feel most comfortable. So if you want to mail in your vote, that's fine. You want to vote early, that's fine. If you want to go to the polls, that's fine. We need to find ways to make that accessible for everybody.

INES FERRE: Deborah, Ines here. I know that the league doesn't necessarily endorse candidates. But you do support women running for office at every level. And given that Kamala Harris has been picked for the v.p. Slot to run with Joe Biden, I'm just curious on your thoughts on how the US has progressed, so to speak, or not, with respect to women reaching these levels. I mean, we did have Hillary Clinton that had run for president.

But as far as-- when you compare it to other countries, I'm originally from Argentina. We've had a woman president. Chile has had a woman president. Do you think that the US has lagged, when it comes to those posts?

DEBORAH TURNER: I would be untruthful if I said we have lagged, OK? And I-- the league works continually to get women to run for office at all levels, from their local communities to the highest levels of government. And we also encourage women to be involved in everything from commissions to committees, or whatever is part of their civic structure within their community.

We have, like somebody in the United States, it is kind of amazing that in the year 2020, we haven't had a woman as president of this country. As you know, many countries have. But we see, there's a future for this. And the fact of having a woman of color actually being part of the ballot for, excuse me, for the, highest one of the highest offices in the country, is absolutely fantastic. However, being the first is really great. But the goal is not to be the first. It is not to be the last.

And so we will continue to fight to elevate the voices of women in elected positions, and also to elevate the voices of women of color in elected positions. Because until we have the day where our elected officials and our positions of power reflect what our country looks like, we still have a ways to go. We know that. But we're fighting for it and. There are many across the country who are joining us in this fight.

- Deborah, one final quick question. When it comes to voter accessibility and getting the elected officials to look more like America, does there need to be a national holiday for election day?

DEBORAH TURNER: Granted, many people have looked at that. Would it increase voter turnout? Would it not increase voter turnout? You know, it would be, I think, a wonderful thing to happen. We have not, particularly at this point, at the league, engaged in a campaign for this, because there are so many other things on our plate that we're dealing around voter education and voter registration, and get out the vote. But this is something that will probably be discussed in the future, and may very well be something that comes in the future. So we have to wait and see.

- Deborah Turner, thank you so much for your time, League of Women Voters of the US President. Appreciate it very much.