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Report finds states need millions more in federal funding to hold elections this year

Report finds states need millions more in federal funding to hold elections this year
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Five key states will need millions more in federal funding in order to move forward with this year's elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research released Thursday found. 

According to a report spearheaded by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, current federal election funds will cover less than 20 percent of the costs required for mail-in voting and other election changes in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Missouri. 

The report, which was also put together by the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the R Street Institute and the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security, examined the impact of the $400 million in election funds sent to states as part of last month’s $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill.

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Georgia faces the biggest pitfall in funding, with the report finding that the $10.8 million the state received will only address around 10 percent of its election needs. This is primarily because mail-in voting has been historically low in the state, and now the state is funding the mailing of absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter. 

The more than $11 million given to Michigan only covers 12 percent of their estimated election costs this year, while the $7.6 million Missouri received will only cover up to 13 percent of costs. 

Ohio and Pennsylvania will fare slightly better, with the funding each state received able to cover between 16 and 18 percent of estimated election costs. 

Areas where more funds are needed include securing online election systems, sending out and processing mail-in ballots, and educating the public about changes to elections. 

While states are constitutionally in charge of running elections, the report’s authors argued that states do not have the money to address election needs on their own, with many facing serious financial challenges amid the pandemic.

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Beyond state-level funding, the report concluded that local governments, not states, will be burdened with 90 percent of the estimated costs needed to ensure Americans can vote in primaries and general elections this year. 

“Without funding from the federal government, there is little chance that state and local governments can shoulder the financial burden,” the authors wrote. “Indeed, nearly every state and local government in the country faces severe budget challenges this year.”

The report’s authors argued that “problems” during recent primaries could “increase dramatically” without the funds. 

Primaries have been postponed in many states, and in Wisconsin, dozens of coronavirus cases have been traced to the state’s recent primary in which many voters were forced to cast their ballots in-person. 

The groups involved in the report have all pushed in recent weeks for Congress to send states more funding for mail-in ballots. Their goal is for Congress to eventually send states a total of $4 billion in election funding. 

The next coronavirus stimulus bill is expected to address numerous state and local issues, with Democrats including Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenFCC to move forward with considering executive order targeting tech's liability shield Top Democrats call for watchdog to review Trump Medicare drug cards On The Money: Trump says talks on COVID-19 aid are now 'working out' | Pelosi shoots down piecemeal approach | Democrats raise questions about Trump tax audits MORE (Ore.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Senate Democrats seek to alleviate public concern about some results not being available on election night Washington flooded with Women's March protesters ahead of Barrett confirmation vote MORE (Minn.) leading efforts to get the election funds added in. 

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP blocks Schumer effort to adjourn Senate until after election GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerTrump to lift Sudan terror sponsor designation Ocasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts The 2016 and 2020 Senate votes are about the same thing: constitutionalist judges MORE (D-N.Y.) and former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMelania Trump to appear at Pennsylvania rally Juan Williams: Trump's search for dirt falls flat The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden set for dueling town halls amid battleground blitz MORE have been among those also throwing their support behind increased mail-in voting efforts. 

But many Republicans, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyConservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA may violate courts with new rule extending life of unlined coal ash ponds | Trump reverses course, approving assistance for California wildfires | Climate change, national security among topics for final Trump-Biden debate MORE (R-Calif.), have expressed opposition to increased mail-in voting, citing concerns that it may hurt Republicans' chances of getting elected.

Political action groups have added their weight to pressure on Republicans to back the funding. Stand Up America announced Thursday that it was launching a campaign to urge more than 75,000 constituents of congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate GOP eyes Oct. 26 for confirming Barrett to Supreme Court GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas MORE (R-Ky.), to demand their representatives support mail-in voting. 

The report’s authors argued that the security of elections is paramount. 

“The federal government has the resources to ensure that state and local governments can run free, fair, and safe elections this fall,” the authors wrote. “We urge them to do so as soon as possible.”