The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and more than 150 other organizations called on Congress yesterday to enact legislation and appropriate enough funding to ensure that states and counties administer the 2020 elections during the coronavirus pandemic in a "safe, fair, and accessible manner."
"Congress must provide states with at least $4 billion to prepare for the 2020 November and primary elections, and time is of the essence," the letter organized by The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights states. "In the last coronavirus response package, Congress provided only $400 million to states for election assistance. While a step in the right direction, that sum will defray only a fraction of the costs associated with implementing the necessary adjustments to safeguard the electoral process."
The sign-on letter also asks that the money not be tied to matching funds from the states because state funds are needed to address the pandemic.
"The election fiasco in Wisconsin - where voters were forced to risk their health and safety in order to exercise their fundamental right to vote - underscored the tremendous need to provide additional assistance to states during this dangerous and challenging time," the groups wrote. "Additional funding is needed to ensure that each state can provide a comprehensive approach that includes both vote-by-mail and in-person options safely and effectively."
The letter draws Congress's attention to the need for a number of election protection measures outlined in a March 17 sign-on letter that CMD also joined, including:
- Accessible online voter registration (OVR) in all states.
- Same-day voter registration for all voters in this election.
- At least two weeks of early in-person voting to reduce long lines and administrative stress on Election Day.
- Providing mail-in ballot options to all registered voters (not just those on absentee voter lists).
- Making any necessary modifications to ensure that in-person is still available and follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.
- Aggressive voter education campaigns to ensure voters understand the changes and to counter disinformation.
The groups also called on Congress to "provide emergency funding to the U.S. Postal Service, which is facing dire financial straits in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic."
A full copy of the April 13 letter is available here.
Photo credit: Tom Arthur