Advocates, Experts Demand Congress Provide More Election Assistance Funding Amidst Pandemic
Groups Say $400 Million In Funding Inadequate, Urge Lawmakers to Provide Full $2 Billion
NEW YORK — Earlier today, advocates and experts from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, Common Cause, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights joined Stand Up America in urging Congress to immediately provide more election assistance funding to states during the coronavirus pandemic.
The groups joining the press call demanded that the next coronavirus response package include sufficient funding for states to implement vote-by-mail, guarantee no-excuse absentee voting, provide safe in-person voting opportunities, increase early voting, and expand online and same-day registration. The Brennan Center has estimated that at least $2 billion total is required to ensure that every eligible voter can cast their ballot this fall.
“We’re running out of time to get this right. None of us know how long this pandemic will last, and no American should have to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote,” said Stand Up America Founder and President Sean Eldridge. “Failing to provide states with the necessary funding puts the election and the right of every voter to participate at risk—and that’s why Stand Up America and the millions in our community will continue to speak up and organize to ensure that every voter can safely cast their ballot.”
“Our democracy works best when everyone participates. No one should have to choose between our safety and a functioning democracy,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Congress must approve at least $1.6 billion in additional funding for safe and fair elections. That funding is needed to help states to prepare for November and provide voters with a range of options for casting ballots, including in-person early voting, no-excuse absentee voting by mail, voter registration opportunities, and safe in-person voting on Election Day. No one method is a panacea on its own. Focusing exclusively on mail-in-ballots could disenfranchise large swaths of voters who have historically faced barriers to the ballot, many of whom are voters of color. There must be guardrails in place and options available to ensure full access to the ballot for every eligible voter. The choices we make now will determine not just how we weather the storm of this virus, but also the kind of democracy we will have when it’s over.”
“This is a time for our leaders to come together to solve this public health crisis and ensure everyone has access to the ballot,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause. “We need Congress to appropriate more funding immediately to help make sure the states can take the commonsense and necessary steps, including expanding vote by mail, absentee voting, and early voting, as well as modernizing our voter registrations systems, now in order to make sure the November general election is secure and accessible to everyone.”
“Election officials are facing unprecedented challenges this year, and they need more resources from Congress to help keep elections safe, accessible, and secure amid the pandemic,” said Lawrence Norden, Director of the Election Reform Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. “Additional funding is needed now so that jurisdictions around the country have time to make critical adjustments before November.”
In March, Stand Up America launched a national campaign and drove over 70,000 constituent calls to Congress urging lawmakers to provide states with $2 billion in election assistance funding. Over 150 organizations also urged Congress to appropriate that amount and to adopt a number of key policy measures to ensure both the public’s safety and an inclusive and fair voting process for upcoming elections.