Coronavirus package has $ 400 million to help states strengthen postal voting

Democracy 2020 Digest: fear of coronavirus slows primary participation rate

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The massive $ 2,000 billion stimulus package against coronaviruses President Trump waits to be promulgated during the likely passage by the House of Representatives, including $ 400 million to help states move towards postal voting, in the middle a pandemic this forces many Americans to take refuge in their homes.

The funds would help states extend postal voting, advance voting, online registration and make in-person voting safer for everyone.

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Legislators and election supporters warn that if states do not receive federal assistance to move away from in-person voting, there could be low voter turnout and disruption November general elections.

The coronavirus epidemic has turned upside down the calendar of presidential appointments, with many states postponing their remaining contests.

Postal voting was already the default option for three states slated to hold primaries on April 4: Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming. Now, the three states are going to 100% by postal vote and extend the deadlines for ballot papers.

Of the states that postponed their primaries to June, Georgia and Ohio are spending millions to send mail-in ballots to voters.

Currently, three states – Colorado, Oregon and Washington – only vote by mail. More than a dozen other states allow optional postal voting.

Election funding of $ 400 million in the bill passed by the Senate is up from the $ 140 million proposed in the original bill put together by Republicans in the Senate. Some Senate Democrats had asked for $ 2 billion in funding. It was the price suggested last week by the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice to help states protect the vote from the coronavirus threat.

The Brennan Center warned on Twitter that funding in the Senate bill is “far less than what election officials must hold in a safe, fair and accurate election in November.” Congress must make a difference as soon as possible. ”

Some Republican lawmakers oppose stimulus funding for coronaviruses to boost postal voting, saying it has nothing to do with helping workers, small businesses, and big businesses devastated by the closure of a large part of the economy due to the pandemic.

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Critics included GOP representative Kevin Brady of Texas, who tweeted earlier this week that early voting and other things being pushed by Democrats were doing “nothing” to help workers and small businesses “survive. to the coronavirus crisis “.

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