Klobuchar, Warren introduce bill to provide $20 billion for election administration
Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Wednesday introduced a bill to provide $20 billion in federal funding to help states and localities to administer elections, train poll workers and eliminate barriers to voting.
The legislation, which is co-sponsored by nine other Senate Democrats, would secure election infrastructure by upgrading voting equipment and registration systems, help recruit and train nonpartisan election officials and poll workers, protect election officials from threats and increase ballot access for minorities, voters with disabilities and those who live overseas or on Indian lands.
“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, but in recent years we have seen a barrage of threats seeking to undermine our elections,” said Klobuchar.
“It is critical that we respond to these threats head-on by ensuring that state and local governments have the resources needed to strengthen the administration of our elections, protect election officials on the frontlines, and provide all eligible voters with the opportunity to make their voices heard,” she said.
Klobuchar called on the Biden administration to prioritize election security funding in his 2023 budget proposal, something the administration later did.
The bill comes a day before Klobuchar is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday on the administration of the 2022 midterm election. It will focus on election security, election-related misinformation and threats against election workers.
The scheduled witnesses include Leigh Chapman, Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of the commonwealth; Kyle Ardoin, Louisiana’s secretary of state; Damon Hewitt, the president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; and Wesley Wilcox, the supervisor of elections in Marion County, Fla.
Democrats say they feel a growing sense of urgency to improve access to the polls after 19 states enacted new voting restrictions in 2019 and allies of former President Trump continue to claim, without substantial evidence, that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
Some Democrats were alarmed that Douglas Mastriano, who has repeatedly raised debunked claims of election fraud and was present at the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, won the Republican nomination for governor in Pennsylvania Tuesday.
“I’ve been calling on the federal government to allocate $20 billion in election funding for states and localities for years. I’m glad to partner with Sen. Klobuchar on this effort,” said Warren.
“This bill is a critical step towards empowering Americans to participate in the democratic process,” she said.
Their proposal would require states to submit plans about how they plan to distribute resources and administer election activities before receiving funds. And it would prohibit them from using the funding to make it tougher for eligible voters to cast ballots.
The bill’s co-sponsors include: Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Angus King (I-Maine), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).
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