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Warren releases plan to secure elections during coronavirus pandemic

Warren releases plan to secure elections during coronavirus pandemic
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Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks What's behind the divisions over Biden's secretary of Labor? Alito to far-right litigants: The buffet is open MORE (D-Mass.) released a plan Tuesday intended to secure elections during the coronavirus pandemic through mail-in voting and increasing online voter registration.

The plan, first reported by Mother Jones, calls on states to ensure every eligible American has the ability to vote by mail, sending voters a ballot with prepaid postage. 

Warren urged Congress to pass a bill proposed by Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharFormer Minnesota Democratic leader quits party Top cybersecurity official ousted by Trump Lawmakers question tech CEOs about content moderation in first post-election hearing MORE (D-Minn.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds Grassley, Wyden criticize Treasury guidance concerning PPP loans The FCC is trying to govern content moderation: It doesn't have the authority MORE (D-Ore.) last month intended to ensure mail-in voting during the pandemic. 

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Warren also advocated for Congress to send states $4 billion to address election needs, a major increase from the $400 million appropriated by Congress in March as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. Warren described the current amount available to states for elections during the coronavirus pandemic as a “fraction” of what was needed. 

“Protecting our elections during this public health emergency will require billions in funding, not millions,” Warren wrote. 

Other issues Warren advocated for included giving the U.S. Postal Service funding to enable it to continue operations through the summer, taking steps to counter disinformation around elections, continuing to guard against foreign interference and compensating every poll worker with hazard pay. 

Warren strongly criticized Republicans for blocking efforts to move to mail-in voting, describing their actions as “an undemocratic power grab” that would “disenfranchise millions.”

“The task of protecting our democracy has never been more vital,” Warren wrote in the plan. “Congress must act to protect our upcoming elections, keep voters and poll workers safe, and safeguard our electoral institutions for the long haul.”

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Warren’s plan was released the same day Wisconsin held an in-person primary election following a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court requiring the state to only count absentee ballots postmarked by Tuesday or cast at the voting station. 

The decision drew sharp criticism from voting rights advocates and Democrats, who argued that this forced voters in Wisconsin to choose between their health and voting.

Other states have been forced to delay primaries, with some states including Iowa and Ohio making the decision to send absentee ballot request forms to all registered voters. Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Hawaii already only use mail-in voting during elections. 

Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUS economy hurtles toward 'COVID cliff' with programs set to expire Democrats gear up for last oversight showdown with Trump Divided citizenry and government — a call to action for common ground MORE (D-Calif.), are pushing for more election funds to be included in the next coronavirus stimulus bill Congress is expected to consider later this month. Republicans, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE, have pushed back against moving to mail-in voting, arguing this would hurt Republican chances in elections.