Pelosi, state Democrats push for more funds for mail-in voting
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and more than 50 state Democratic officials advocated strongly on Tuesday for Congress to give states more funding to support mail-in and absentee voting efforts as part of the next coronavirus stimulus bill.
“In terms of the elections, I think that we’ll probably be moving to vote by mail,” Pelosi said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday. “That’s why we wanted to have more resources in this third bill that just was signed by the president to get those resources to the states to facilitate the reality of life that we are going to have to have more vote by mail.”
The coronavirus stimulus package signed into law by President Trump last week included $400 million to allow states to adapt the upcoming primary and general elections during the coronavirus crisis.
That amount was far lower than the $4 billion proposed by Pelosi as part of the House version of the stimulus bill, which also would have required states to send absentee ballots to every registered voter and expand early voting. The final coronavirus stimulus package did not include any requirements for how states must use the $400 million.
Pelosi said on Monday that she was disappointed the stimulus did not include funding for the U.S. Postal Service to send ballots to Americans, and said she hoped public opinion would help to push Republicans to support more funding for elections in the next coronavirus stimulus bill.
“The integrity of the election system is central to our democracy, [and] how anyone could oppose our enabling the states to have vote by mail raises so many other questions,” Pelosi said. “But let’s just be hopeful and have public opinion weigh in on that.”
Pelosi’s comments were made the day after Trump rejected the idea of putting requirements on states for how to run elections during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you ever agreed to, you would never have a Republican elected in this country again,” Trump said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.” “They had things in there about election days and what you do and all sorts of drawbacks. They had things that were just totally crazy.”
But Democrats are not backing down in the fight to get states more funding to allow elections to move forward.
A group of 51 state Democratic Party chairpersons co-signed an open letter on Tuesday strongly urging Congress to “immediately appropriate at least $2 billion” to states to support efforts to expand early voting, vote by mail, voter registration and voter education.
“Every state is currently unprepared to address the seismic shift in election administration necessary to ensure the 2020 election proceeds during a pandemic and must start implementing these changes by mid-April,” the Democratic officials wrote. “The funding is needed right now to protect the 2020 election.”
The efforts come as several states are postponing their primaries due to concerns around the coronavirus pandemic, and after the few states that went ahead with in-person votes in March saw low turnout.
Many states have already taken steps to make election adjustments, including in Maryland, where the Board of Elections is considering eliminating in-person voting during the primaries. In Georgia, the state is moving ahead with sending absentee ballot request forms to every voter, and in Iowa, the period to vote by mail ahead of the June primary has been extended.
“Action to safeguard our electoral system cannot wait,” the Democratic leaders emphasized in their letter. “In a matter of weeks, millions of Americans across several states will be asked to vote in municipal and primary elections, and they deserve better than the impossible choice between preserving their well-being and casting their ballots.”