Warren warns coronavirus 'poses a threat to free and fair elections'

Warren warns coronavirus 'poses a threat to free and fair elections'
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Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers demand answers on Chinese COVID hacks | Biden re-ups criticism of Amazon | House Dem bill seeks to limit microtargeting MORE (D-Mass.) on Monday warned that the COVID-19 pandemic poses a threat to “free and fair elections,” as experts cautioned that states are running out of time to prepare to hold elections during the crisis. 

“Coronavirus poses a threat to free and fair elections. But we can fix that,” Warren tweeted. “We need vote by mail. We need online and same-day registration. We need early voting and extended voting hours. We need real money for governments to administer elections safely.”

Warren voiced her concerns in response to a New York Times Magazine report that explored the question of whether Americans could be disenfranchised by the pandemic. The article highlighted the recent Wisconsin primary election, when residents were forced to vote in-person. Dozens of coronavirus cases tied to election day have been reported in the weeks since. 

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Warren released a plan on the day of the Wisconsin primary on how to secure voting during COVID-19, advocating for states to send an absentee ballot to every eligible American voter, and that Congress give $4 billion to states for elections. 

“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.”

The question of how to safely and securely hold elections during the COVID-19 crisis has become heated in recent weeks, as Democrats and voting rights groups have pushed hard for Congress to allocate funding for mail-in voting in future stimulus packages. 

Democratic Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Congress must fill the leadership void The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump spotted wearing a face mask MORE (Minn.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse to consider amendment blocking warrantless web browsing surveillance COVID-19 increases importance of implementing reforms to organ donation system Senators offer bill to prevent relief payments from being seized by private debt collectors MORE (Ore.) and Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsCongress must fill the leadership void Congress headed toward unemployment showdown Trump declines to say if he's 'standing by' nominee under investigation MORE (Del.) have led the fight for funding in the Senate, with other supporters including House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams Biden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' Federal aid to state and local governments should rely on real numbers MORE (D-Calif.) and 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

Congress already appropriated $400 million in election funds as part of the $2 trillion stimulus package signed into law in March. The funds came with a clause that required a 20 percent state match, an issue states on the verge of bankruptcy have objected to. A bill introduced by Rep. Joseph Neguse (D-Colo.) on Monday would waive the matching funds requirement. 

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While Republican state officials support receiving more election funds, Republican leaders including President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams Biden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' GOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order MORE have railed against mail-in voting, citing concerns that it would increase voting fraud and hurt Republican election chances.

But experts have cautioned that not expanding mail-in and early in-person voting could seriously impact the ability for primary and general elections to move forward this year. 

New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice warned in a report released Monday that if election officials fail to meet deadlines for equipment and supplies between May and August, the November elections could be put in danger and some Americans could lose the ability to vote. 

“State and local election officials must begin making purchases in a matter of weeks in order to ensure free, fair, and safe elections this fall,” the authors wrote in the report. 

The report found that states need to begin modernizing and updating voter registration systems before the end of the month to meet the expected surge in registration requests. High speed scanners to read and tabulate ballots must be purchased this month for delivery by October, and online absentee ballot request systems must be updated by August at the latest. 

“The expenses involved in preparing for this November’s election are hitting election officials around the country now. Congress must fund this need immediately,” Edgardo Cortés, one of the report’s authors and an election security adviser to the Brennan Center, said in a statement.  “Our election officials don’t have time to wait, and our democracy doesn’t either.”

The Brennan Center previously called for $4 billion to be made available to states to secure elections during the COVID-19 crisis, the amount that Democrats on Capitol Hill are also pushing for.