Senators urge Congress to include election funds in coronavirus stimulus
Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Chris Coons (Del.) urged the leaders of the House and Senate on Friday to include election security funding in an upcoming coronavirus funding package.
“As Congress prepares additional legislation to protect the American people from COVID-19 and provide financial relief, we also must protect our elections,” Klobuchar and Coons wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
“Americans are facing unprecedented disruptions to their daily lives, and we need to make sure that in the midst of this pandemic people do not lose their ability to vote,” the senators emphasized.
Klobuchar, the lead Democrat on the elections-focused Senate Rules Committee, and Coons highlighted a report released by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice that called on Congress to appropriate around $2 billion to states to allow the November elections to go forward following the coronavirus pandemic.
The senators noted that this amount would be around 0.2 percent of the more than $1 trillion supplemental appropriations package that Congress is considering to provide aid to Americans and businesses in the midst of the national crisis caused by the spread of coronavirus.
The money would be used to fund printing mail-in ballots, purchasing cleaning supplies for polling sites, and recruiting and training election workers.
Klobuchar and Coons, along with over a dozen other Senate Democrats, introduced a bill earlier this week to allow for Americans to have access to mail-in ballots and boost absentee voting, along with other measures designed to allow the November elections to go forward.
A companion House bill was introduced earlier this month by Democratic Reps. Suzan DelBene (Wash.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), and Jamie Raskin (Md.).
The senators cited this bill in pointing to concerns over recent primaries that saw lower in-person turnouts in Florida, Illinois and Arizona in citing the need to move quickly to provide states with funding to shift elections to allow all Americans to vote without fear of catching the coronavirus.
“Protecting the right to vote is critical – and we can’t let this crisis stop Americans from being heard at the ballot box,” the senators wrote. “Americans cast ballots during the Civil War and after September 11, 2001. No matter the magnitude of the threat facing our country, the most fundamental part of our democracy – our elections – must go on.”