House Democrats push hard for mail-in voting funds

House Democrats push hard for mail-in voting funds

The Democratic chairs of key House committees on Friday called on Congress to send $4 billion to states to allow for mail-in voting and other efforts to conduct elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the right to vote “may be in jeopardy” without action. 

House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers House punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate MORE (D-Calif.), House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyFired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Ousted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe Overnight Health Care: White House shifts focus from coronavirus | House Democrats seek information on coronavirus vaccine contracts | Governors detail frustrations with Trump over COVID-19 supplies MORE (D-N.Y.), House Administration subcommittee on Elections Chairwoman Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Moniz says U.S. needs energy jobs coalition and Manchin says Congress is pushing Wall Street solutions that don't work for Main Street; Burr to step aside Hillicon Valley: Experts raise security concerns about online voting | Musk finds supporter in Trump | Officials warn that Chinese hackers targeting COVID-19 research groups The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrat concedes in California House race MORE (D-Ohio), and Reps. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse holds first-ever proxy votes during pandemic Dozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House House members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes MORE (D-Md.) and Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchHouse Democrats object to Trump sending ventilators to Russia Hillicon Valley: House Dems push for B in state election funds | Amazon suspends over 6,000 sellers for price gouging | Google says 18M malicious coronavirus emails sent daily House Democrats push hard for mail-in voting funds MORE (D-Mass.) jointly criticized Congress for not doing enough to prevent barriers to vote this year. 

“Without decisive action by Congress, the coronavirus crisis may exacerbate dangerous impediments for voters, including closed or restricted access to polling places and public health restrictions that deter voter participation — all of which could result in depressed voter turnout that undermines the will of the American people and degrades confidence in our elections,” the House members said in a joint statement. 

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The coronavirus stimulus package signed into law by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Barr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters MORE last month included $400 million to assist states conduct elections during the COVID-19 crisis. 

The amount was far lower than the $4 billion proposed in the House version of that bill rolled out by House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNRCC turns up heat on vulnerable Democrats over Omar's call to abolish police Shocking job numbers raise hopes for quicker recovery Engel primary challenger hits million in donations MORE (D-Calif.) and supported by Lofgren. The House version would also have imposed requirements on states on how to use the funds, including expanding early in-person voting and ensuring every voter had the ability to vote by mail.

The version ultimately signed into law was the Senate version, which did not include any requirements on how the funds could be used, and required states to match the funding by 20 percent. The House Democratic leaders on Friday strongly criticized this funding match.

“These funds must be free from burdensome matching requirements that prevent states from quickly deploying resources where they are urgently needed,” the House Democrats said. “Vote-by-mail and early voting options are commonsense and tested solutions that will both protect public health and the fundamental American right to vote.”

While Democrats have largely supported voting remotely, many Republicans have pushed back against the idea of mandating states to move to vote-by-mail, citing concerns around voter fraud, federalizing elections, and hurting Republican election chances. 

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“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting,” Trump tweeted earlier this month. “Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”

Despite this pushback, vote-by-mail has been increasingly in the spotlight following delayed primary elections across the nation. 

Secretaries of state, including some Republicans, have pushed for states to be given more funding to address election challenges, and have been joined in recent days in this push by former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama celebrates seniors, tells them to 'breathe deep and dance your heart out' at virtual prom The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead Michelle Obama working with 31 mayors on increasing voter participation MORE and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

In addition, progressive organizations have joined together to push Congress to give states more mail-in voting funds, including Stand Up America, which on Thursday alone drove 20,000 constituent calls to lawmakers about the issue. 

The Wisconsin primary election this month in particular spurred the national conversation about voting remotely, after videos of voters lined up around the block for hours emerged after a last-minute legal wrangle prevented the governor from delaying the election.

The House Democrats on Friday pointed to Wisconsin as an example of why changes needed to be made to elections.  

“This pandemic does not discriminate by political party or ideology,” the members said. “An election that forces voters to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballots is not a free and fair election.”