Last night, 30+ organizations from the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) coalition urged the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules & Administration to include vital funding to bolster state and local elections officials facing unprecedented burdens in holding elections amidst the COVID-19 pandemic amidst massive budget shortfalls. In a letter organized by Common Cause to every member of the Committee yesterday, more than 30 groups emphasized the importance supporting the $3.6 billion in election funding that was included in the House-passed Heroes Act in order to safeguard our elections against multiple threats at home and abroad.
“It is critically important that Congress allocate sufficient funding to ensure that every American have the opportunity to make their voice heard in the coming election, even during a pandemic,” said Common Cause Director of Legislative Affairs Aaron Scherb. “We knew we would again be facing foreign interference in the 2020 election, because the Trump White House refused to hold Russia accountable for its attacks in 2016, but on top of that, states are now facing massive additional costs related to holding elections in the middle of a pandemic. Many states already spent much or all of their November general election budgets in efforts to keep voters safe during the primaries. Congress must step up to help state and local election officials meet the challenge and a time when states are facing gaping budget shortfalls.”
“Congress must act now to secure our elections amidst the COVID-19 pandemic so that local and state governments have the time and resources to ensure that every American can vote safely this year,” said Jana Morgan, director of the 160+ organization Declaration for American Democracy coalition. “Recent disastrous primaries in Wisconsin and Georgia present a stark warning for November. Congress must allocate $3.6 billion in funding and enable the reforms necessary to ensure that no American has to choose between their health and their vote.”
The letter stressed that the $400 million in election funding included in the CARES Act was a fine first step, but that states requires significantly more resources to face the challenges ahead. The groups point to the widespread problems experienced during the primaries in many states – hours long lines, shortages of poll workers, polling place closures, late delivery of absentee ballots, and myriad other issues – that will only be compounded in November with record turnout widely predicted.
In addition to Common Cause, several other members of the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) coalition signing the letter included, the League of Conservation Voter (LCV), League of Women Voters of the United States (LWV), Brady United Against Gun Violence, March for Our Lives, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Greenpeace USA, Pax Christi USA, and Stand Up America.
The full letter follows below:
Letter from Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) Organizations Urging the Senate to Make Additional Investments in State and Local Elections
Senator Roy Blunt, Chairman
Senate Committee on Rules & Administration
Russell Senate Office Building, Room 260
Washington, DC 20510
Senator Amy Klobuchar, Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Rules & Administration
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 425
Washington, DC 20510
July 21, 2020
Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Klobuchar:
As you prepare to hold a hearing to examine the critical needs that our states must address in advance of the 2020 elections, our below organizations strongly urge you to invest additional resources for elections in the Senate version of the Heroes Act. Our organizations are part of the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD), a coalition of more than 160 groups representing tens of millions of Americans, and we urge you to support the $3.6 billion in election funding that was included in the House-passed Heroes Act so all voters can have their voices heard and votes counted this year.
Election officials throughout the country and on both sides of the aisle have spoken up to ask for Congress to prioritize additional resources for state and local elections. Nearly all (if not all) states do in fact need Congress to make additional investments so we can ensure that voting is safe, accessible, and secure this year. This year’s elections face unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 crisis and the economic recession. Millions of Americans, many of whom have lost their jobs and potentially their health care, should not have to choose between their health and their right to vote. Congress has a critical role to play to ensure that no voters are disenfranchised this year.
The $400 million in election funding included in the CARES Act was a fine first step, but states need significantly more resources. As you know, voters in some states’ primaries faced significant barriers, including:
- Waiting in hours’ long lines (up to five or more hours in certain instances);
- Finding their polling locations closed;
- Not receiving absentee ballots; and
- Receiving their absentee ballots but not having them returned in time or not having them counted
We cannot let these problems be repeated in this November’s election. Voters have been able to cast their ballots during wars, natural disasters, and pandemics, and the COVID-19 pandemic presents unique circumstances to voting this year. Our democracy requires continued investments, and we strongly urge you to provide $3.6 billion for election funding in the Senate version of the Heroes Act.
Brady United Against Gun Violence
Center for American Progress (CAP)
Church World Service
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Clean Elections Texas
Climate Reality Project
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces
Fix Democracy First
Franciscan Action Network
League of Conservation Voters (LCV)
League of Women Voters of the United States (LWV)
Let America Vote/End Citizens United Action Fund
March for Our Lives
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Jewish Women
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
New American Leaders Action Fund
Pax Christi USA
Progressive Turnout Project
Reclaim Our Democracy
Revolving Door Project
Stand Up America
Voices for Progress
cc: All Members of the Senate Committee on Rules & Administration