State election officials warn budget cuts could lead to November chaos

State election officials warn budget cuts could lead to November chaos

Multiple states are facing dire budget shortfalls as November's general election approaches due to the coronavirus pandemic, signaling that local governments could have a real problem holding elections while the disease lingers in the country. 

Experts at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice have estimated that states need an additional $4 billion to adequately prepare for this election cycle, but the CARES Act only allotted $400 million nationwide for COVID-19 related election expenses.

States need money for increased mail-in voting, educational materials for voters, protective equipment to make in-person voting at the polls as safe as possible and more, according to the university's experts.

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Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Lobbying world MORE (D-Minn.), the ranking Democrat on the the Senate committee that oversees federal election funds, told Reuters that money intended for election security is being used by local governments to buy masks and other cleaning supplies for in-person polls.

“That’s not a one-or-the-other choice. We need voters to be safe and we need our elections to be secure,” she told the newswire.

However, the allotted election funding is not enough. 

For example, in Georgia, all voters received forms for absentee ballot requests before its June 9 primary elections, a move that cost the state an estimated $5 million. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) told state lawmakers in late June that the same thing wouldn't be able to happen in November due to lack of funds.

Georgians wanting to request an absentee ballot will now reportedly have to do so online.

In Philadelphia, where a quarter of the state's Democrats reside, officials have cited that the city's election budget is $12.3 million, well short of the $22.5 million election budget that was proposed in March, according to Reuters.

Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the hotly contested battleground states; President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE won the Keystone State by less than 1 percentage point in 2016.