National: House Republicans introduce legislation to give states $400 million for elections | Maggie Miller/The Hill

A group of House Republicans on Monday introduced legislation that would appropriate $400 million to states to address election challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Assistance for Safe Elections (EASE) Act would designate $200 million to assist with sanitizing in-person polling stations and purchasing personal protective equipment, while a further $100 million would go towards recruiting and training new poll workers, following a nationwide shortage of workers due to the pandemic. The final $100 million would be appropriated for states to maintain the accuracy of their voter registration lists. Other provisions in the bill include measures to increase the cybersecurity of the elections process, including establishing an election cyber assistance unit at the Election Assistance Commission, and updating voluntary voting system guidelines established by the Help America Vote Act to cover next-generation voting technology, such as e-pollbooks.

National: Senate GOP Coronavirus Package Omits Additional Elections Funding | Alexa Corse and Lindsay Wise/Wall Street Journal

Senate Republicans didn’t include any new funding to help states and local governments to administer elections in their latest coronavirus aid package, setting up a fight over the issue in coming negotiations with Democrats. House Democrats in May proposed sending $3.6 billion to state and local officials to help them hold elections during the pandemic, which has prompted many areas to expand vote-by-mail options and invest in protective equipment for poll workers. Democrats also called for a nationwide vote-by-mail option and a guarantee of 15 days of early voting, among other requirements. Republicans point out that they have already given $400 million to help overcome coronavirus-related election challenges in the Cares Act, which passed in March, and that they are opposed to mandating new voting procedures. “We’ve already appropriated an awful lot of money for election assistance,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday. “What we’re not going to do is federalize the American election system, which is basically conducted in every single state in very different ways.”

National: Senate GOP Coronavirus Package Omits Additional Elections Funding | Alexa Corse and Lindsay Wise/Wall Street Journal

Senate Republicans didn’t include any new funding to help states and local governments to administer elections in their latest coronavirus aid package, setting up a fight over the issue in coming negotiations with Democrats. House Democrats in May proposed sending $3.6 billion to state and local officials to help them hold elections during the pandemic, which has prompted many areas to expand vote-by-mail options and invest in protective equipment for poll workers. Democrats also called for a nationwide vote-by-mail option and a guarantee of 15 days of early voting, among other requirements. Republicans point out that they have already given $400 million to help overcome coronavirus-related election challenges in the Cares Act, which passed in March, and that they are opposed to mandating new voting procedures. “We’ve already appropriated an awful lot of money for election assistance,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday. “What we’re not going to do is federalize the American election system, which is basically conducted in every single state in very different ways.”

National: GOP sparks backlash after excluding election funds from COVID-19 bill | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Senate Republicans left out funding for mail-in and early voting during the COVID-19 pandemic in their stimulus bill rolled out Monday, prompting backlash from Democrats, election officials and advocacy groups. With less than 100 days to go before Election Day, these officials are concerned that without a new injection of federal funds, state and local officials facing budget shortfalls may struggle to carry out safe and secure elections that ensure every American can vote. The concerns come as the pandemic has upended the primary process, leading most states to postpone their contests, while results in a handful, including New York, have been delayed by a surge in mailed-in ballots. “This isn’t in anyone’s budget, no one budgeted for a pandemic, and you can see state and local budgets are cratering, they don’t have funding to put into this, and certainly it’s going to be a challenge,” Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Chairman Benjamin Hovland, who was nominated by President Trump, told The Hill Tuesday.

National: Bipartisan support grows for inclusion of election funding in Senate stimulus package | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Bipartisan federal, state, and local officials on Wednesday threw support behind Congress sending states more funds to address election challenges, such as increased mail-in voting, during the COVID-19 pandemic. During a Senate Rules Committee hearing on 2020 election preparations, committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a key player in securing the funds, said he was open to looking into giving states more election funding with low levels of required state matches. “I think we ought to go back and look at the money you currently have available to you, and maybe make that money more consistent in terms and times it has to be spent and give you more access to the money you’ve already got in addition to trying to identify the right amount of new money,” Blunt said while addressing state officials at the hearing. Pressure on the Senate to approve further election funding has increased in the wake of the primary elections, during which many local and state officials ran through much of their portions of the $400 million in election funds included in the CARES Act stimulus package signed into law by President Trump in March. These funds came with a requirement that states provide a 20 percent match, which has become a stumbling block in states reeling from a drop in revenue due to the pandemic. A further $3.6 billion for elections was included in the House-passed HEROES Act stimulus package passed in May, the amount experts have pointed to as necessary to ensure states can hold safe and secure elections during the pandemic.

National: Senators Weigh Spending More to Help States Prepare for Election | Tim Ryan/Courthouse News

With the 2020 election looming and the coronavirus pandemic continuing to rage across the country, senators and state election officials debated the need Wednesday for more federal dollars to help states conduct voting safely. “We all know that the counties and the states are suffering badly, so I think that it would be a correct statement to say that they need additional financial help,” Rick Stream, the Republican director of elections in St. Louis County, Mo., told the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. The coronavirus pandemic coincided with primaries in many states, sending elections officials scrambling for ways to conduct voting safely. Many states turned to vote by mail, but long wait times were still common at overwhelmed in-person polling places. Changes to voting procedures have spawned waves of lawsuits and bitter partisan fights. Republicans have raised concerns about the security of mail-in ballots, most vocally President Donald Trump, who has claimed without evidence that mail-in ballots lead to voter fraud. Democrats and voting rights groups, meanwhile, have said not having widespread vote-by-mail during the pandemic will threaten the right to vote, particularly for minority and lower-income voters who could face long lines and risk having to choose between being exposed to coronavirus and casting a ballot. As part of the massive coronavirus response package that became law at the end of March, Congress set aside $400 million in grants for states to use in the 2020 election cycle. Lawmakers are now working out the details of another relief package, leading to renewed calls for another round of election support funding for states. But exactly what that funding will look like remains unclear.

National: Coronavirus Election Funding Could Increase After Primaries | Miles Parks/NPR

Ever since the pandemic struck, state and local election officials across the country have made it clear: To avoid an election disaster in November, they need more money now. Congressional Republicans are now signalling a new willingness to provide that, after initial fears from voting rights advocates that the federal government would provide no more support than the $400 million that came as part of a March relief package. Experts expect as many as 70% of all ballots cast in November’s presidential election will be cast through the mail, a quick and radical shift that will require equipment upgrades and greatly increase costs for cash-strapped states and counties. During the 2018 midterms, about a quarter of ballots were cast by mail. Officials across the country, like Lynn Bailey, who is the board of elections executive director of Augusta, Ga., are looking ahead to November and wondering how they will pay for it. Bailey testified Wednesday as part of an Election Assistance Commission hearing about the 2020 primaries. She said Georgia’s June 9 primary cost about 60 percent more than a normal election would have in her jurisdiction, due to adjustments made as a result of the pandemic. “We had about a 35 percent turnout rate in our jurisdiction in this past election, and we know that in November that number will likely double,” Bailey said. “We can only expect therefore that our budget will likely double over what we spent this time, if not more.”

National: State and local officials beg Congress to send more election funds ahead of November | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Top state and local election officials on Wednesday begged Congress to appropriate more election funding ahead of November to address COVID-19 challenges. Congress sent $400 million to states to address COVID-19 election concerns as part of the stimulus package signed into law by President Trump in March, called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Election officials testified during an Election Assistance Commission (EAC) summit on Wednesday that those funds were running out. “It’s looking like I spent close to 60 percent of my CARES Act funding on the primary election,” Jared Dearing, the executive director of the Kentucky State Board of Elections, testified. “To put that in context, we are expecting turnout to go from 30 percent, which was a record high for a primary election, to as much as 70 percent.” Dearing noted that only around 2 percent of ballots in Kentucky are typically cast through mail-in voting, but that number increased to 75 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, a change he said would require further funds to address. “Where we procure these funds and how much this is going to cost is incredibly concerning,” Dearing said. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) also testified in favor of the federal government sending more funds, but argued the funds should be sent with fewer strings attached. “Clearly we welcome more resources, the goal here is we want more stable and consistent funding, because we have COVID, we may be facing COVID in the next elections,” Pate said.

Editorials: Congress must act to protect the legitimacy of the election this fall | Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta, Tim Roemer and Zach Wamp/The Hill

Nothing is more sacred in our democratic republic than the right to free and fair elections. But that right is being threatened by those who seek to promote fear and division. If fear prevails, the United States could be on a collision course to disaster in November. We cannot allow that to happen. Our nation is in an unprecedented situation. While state election officials have tried their best to hold primaries as the coronavirus pandemic rages, there have been major problems with the operations of several contests, from Georgia to Wisconsin, and plenty of challenges in others. The causes of these problems were largely predictable. Polling stations were shut down, often without notice, due to a lack of workers, meaning long lines at those polling stations that were open. There were faulty and untested equipment and poll workers not knowing how to operate them. There were delayed results and absentee ballot requests not processed due to current staffing levels. None of this is acceptable in 2020. Local and state officials from both parties know best what assistance they need to prepare for the election. They have made their calls clear for new funding, including federal funding, to help make voting safe and secure. The $400 million they have received so far from Congress unfortunately does not even begin to cover all of the costs to make voting safe.

National: House Democrats include $500M for election security in annual appropriations bill | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Democrats on a House Appropriations Committee panel included $500 million to boost election security as part of their version of an annual funding bill introduced Tuesday. The version of the fiscal 2021 Financial Services and General Government spending bill rolled out by the House Appropriations subcommittee on financial services and general government would appropriate half a billion dollars to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to “enhance election technology and make election security improvements.” The bill, which will be debated by the subcommittee Wednesday, specifies that states may only use the election security funds to replace “direct-recording electronic” voting equipment with voting systems that use some form of paper ballots. States would only be allowed to use any remaining funds once they have certified to the EAC that all direct-recording election equipment has been replaced. Experts have strongly advised against the use of direct-recording electronic voting equipment, which has no backup paper record of how an individual voted.

National: Senate panel approves legislation requiring campaigns to report foreign election help | Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb/CNN

The Senate Intelligence Committee quietly approved on Wednesday a measure that would require presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election influence to federal authorities, a move taken in response to Russian election interference in 2016 and one that could draw the attention of President Donald Trump, committee sources say. Senate Republicans, however, are preparing to remove the provision from the bill when it heads to the Senate floor. The committee adopted the measure behind closed doors in a classified setting, adding it to the Intelligence Authorization Act, a bill setting policy for the intelligence community. The amendment was offered by Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the committee’s top Democrat and the author of the standalone legislation, and GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. It passed 8-7, with Collins joining the panel’s seven Democrats.

Michigan: Secretary of State wants $40M from feds to hold election during COVID-19 | Beth LeBlanc/The Detroit News

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told federal lawmakers Wednesday that the $11.2 million in CARES Act Funding appropriated to Michigan for election challenges posed by the coronavirus is not enough. Benson told the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary that she still needs roughly $40 million more to adjust election procedures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Democracy can and will survive this pandemic, but we need your ongoing help,” the Detroit Democrat said. The testimony comes nearly two weeks after President Donald Trump threatened Michigan funding over Benson’s decision to mail absentee ballot applications to qualified Michigan voters ahead of the August and November elections. The state already allows voters to cast ballots by mail for any reason. Benson announced Tuesday that she will mail all of Michigan’s 7.7 million voters an absentee voter application, an effort first employed in the May 5 election to curb in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

National: Republicans Open to More Election Funding, but Not on Democrats’ Terms | Kristina Peterson/Wall Street Journal

Republican leaders on Capitol Hill say they don’t want the federal government telling states how to hold elections during the coronavirus pandemic. But they haven’t closed the door on increased funding for local officials wrestling with how to keep voters safe this November. While most Republicans are leery of new federal requirements backed by Democrats that mandate mail-in voting nationwide, they are discussing a range of other ideas. Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.), chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, said he expected the next relief package would include more money for elections. “I think it’s likely and it’s likely necessary,” Mr. Blunt, a former Missouri secretary of state, said in an interview. He said he is also looking at reducing the current requirement that states provide a 20% match in order to access emergency election funding. In late March, Congress approved $400 million in election assistance grants as part of its roughly $2 trillion stimulus bill.

Florida: After pleas, Secretary of State requests federal coronavirus money for election | Allison Ross/Tampa Bay Times

Following public prodding from county elections officials and others, the Florida Secretary of State has requested more than $20 million in federal money to prepare for the 2020 elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Florida Supervisors of Elections, a bipartisan association of the state’s county elections officials, had urged the state for about a month to request the money and make it available as soon as possible as the Sunshine State gears up for the Aug. 18 primary and November general election. The money is Florida’s share of $400 million in federal aid for elections as part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Every state is required to make a 20 percent match; in Florida’s case, that’s roughly $4 million.

Florida: Supervisors want DeSantis to take CARES Act money | Alex Daugherty and David Smiley/Miami Herald

Florida is one of just four states that have yet to accept federal funds to prepare for elections during the coronavirus pandemic, and the state’s election supervisors are urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to take the money now. The Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, a bipartisan group that represents county-level election supervisors across the state, sent a letter to DeSantis on Wednesday urging him to take $20 million in funds awarded to Florida as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that became law in March. The letter is a follow-up to one the group sent a month ago, asking DeSantis to help supervisors prepare for the coming August and November elections by granting them some flexibility under the law — a request that has gone unanswered. “I … want to express my concern that Florida is lagging behind nearly every other state in securing CARES Act funding for elections,” Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer wrote Wednesday. “While we wait, the goods and services we need are becoming scarce.”

National: House Democrats include $3.6 billion for mail-in voting in new stimulus bill | Maggie Miller/The Hill

House Democrats have included $3.6 billion in election funding as part of the $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill they rolled out on Tuesday. The funding is meant to assist states in addressing new challenges posed by holding elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as expanding mail-in and early in-person voting. At least 50 percent of the funds would be required to go to local governments to help administer elections, and states would have until late next year to access the funds. The House is expected to vote on the stimulus package on Friday, but the outlook for the election funds passing in the GOP-led Senate remains unclear. Senate Republicans have broadly pushed back on calls to immediately approve more stimulus money, saying lawmakers should weigh the impact of the trillions in spending already approved by Congress. The coronavirus stimulus package signed into law by President Trump in March included $400 million for elections. Democrats have pushed for a total of $4 billion to be allocated for elections, with the addition of the new funds proposed Tuesday totaling to this amount.

National: States can’t access emergency COVID-19 election funding because of steep match rates | Nicole Goodkind/Fortune

In late March as part of the stimulus package known as the CARES Act, Congress gave states $400 million to protect the upcoming presidential and federal elections from any COVID-19 related disruptions. Now, some states are saying that they have no way to access that money. In order for a state to receive its part of the $400 million—doled out by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and expected to be put toward expenses like mail-in ballots and personal protective equipment for poll workers—it has to commit to matching 20% of the money with its own funds. Companies that received stimulus money from the bill had no similar match requirements. In the past, states have been asked to contribute money to receive election funds, but at a 5% rate, according to Democratic Minnesota secretary of state Steve Simon. He’s unsure of why this particular match rate is so high, especially when the funds are so vital to ensuring a successful presidential election. Minnesota needs approval from its legislature in order to match funding, and with just two weeks before its members retire for the year, getting to any kind of agreement looks precarious. Still, Simon says, his state is lucky because the legislature is still in session. About 15 state legislatures have already adjourned for the year, which means that unless they call a special session to order, they won’t reconvene until early in 2021. In order to receive the funding, a match must be guaranteed by Dec. 31, 2020.

Arkansas: Counties to get help for election; state to apply federal funds of $4.7M for ballots, machines | Michael R. Wickline/Northwest Arkansas Newspapers

Secretary of State John Thurston said Wednesday that his office is working on a plan to help counties by using $4.7 million in federal funds to help mitigate coronavirus concerns during the Nov. 3 general election. “We are looking at helping counties with maybe larger venues, where they may spread their machines out a little more,” by possibly renting out larger places for polling sites and also purchasing sanitizing products, the East End Republican told the state Board of Election Commissioners that he chairs. “Obviously, absentee voting, we believe, will increase, and we just want to help the counties with those federal dollars and helping purchase all the things that they will need for that,” Thurston said. He said his office hasn’t “totally ironed out all the details” on spending the federal grant obtained through the U.S. Election Assistance Commission under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.

National: Pelosi says Democrats will push for vote by mail in next coronavirus relief package | Rebecca Shabad/NBC

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday that Democrats will push for a vote-by-mail provision in Congress’ next coronavirus relief package. In an interview on MSNBC’s LIVE with Stephanie Ruhle, Pelosi said that it’s important to protect the “life of our democracy” as the coronavirus crisis continues. “In this next bill, we will be supporting vote by mail in a very important way — we think it’s a health issue at this point,” Pelosi said. Democrats have been for weeks pushing mail-in voting before May and June primary contests— over a dozen of which have been postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus— and as they look ahead to the November election.

National: Emergency election money is available. But some states struggle to claim it | Carrie Levine/Center for Public Integrity

Some states aren’t sure if they can claim their share of emergency funds Congress approved to help states meet pandemic-related expenses for administering 2020 elections, citing conditions on the money.  The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which is coordinating the flow of $400 million to the states, had received request letters from 37 states as of Tuesday.  For some of the remaining states, a major obstacle is a requirement that they match 20 percent of the federal money with their own dollars — at a time when the coronavirus outbreak is straining state budgets and draining surpluses. The National Association of Secretaries of State has told lawmakers that the matching requirement will be “extremely difficult” for states to meet. Election officials from both parties have also raised concerns and said Congress should lift or reduce the match requirement. 

National: Senators, bipartisan state officials press Congress for more election funds | Maggie Miller/The Hill

A group of Democratic senators and bipartisan secretaries of state from across the nation piled on the pressure Thursday for Congress to include funding to help states grapple with holding elections in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In a phone call with the press, Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), and Chris Coons (Del.) stressed the need to send states at least $2 billion to implement increased mail-in voting, expand early voting and hire and train younger poll workers less vulnerable to the virus. They argued this was particularly important following the Wisconsin primary this week, during which voters were forced to vote in-person following a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court that the state would not be allowed to count absentee ballots mailed in after Election Day. The decision led to long lines and confusion at some polling places in the state.  “Our goal today is to finally generate real, bipartisan support in the Congress for safe voting so our country does not see another grotesque spectacle like we did this week in Wisconsin,” Wyden said.

National: New election security funds won’t come easy for hard-hit states | Paul M. Krawzak/Roll Call

Cash-strapped states, which Congress just pumped $150 billion into, will nonetheless have to pony up in order to access new election security grants in the massive new coronavirus aid package signed by President Donald Trump last week. The $2.3 trillion aid bill contains $400 million to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, for the 2020 Federal election cycle.” The Election Assistance Commission, an independent, bipartisan commission established in 2002, will administer the grants. But consistent with past practice, and EAC guidelines, the money comes with strings attached: States need to put up matching funds equal to 20 percent of their federal aid. Previous election security grants required a state match, most recently the 20 percent state match required for $425 million provided in regular fiscal 2020 appropriations last December. But some election security experts were taken aback that the matching funds requirement wasn’t waived in the latest round of aid, and House Democrats are already planning to include a fix in the “phase four” COVID-19 bill they are prepping.

National: Democrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Democrats and voting rights groups on Thursday pressed President Trump and Republicans to support more funding for elections this year, saying it was crucial to include money ensuring people could cast ballots as part of the next coronavirus stimulus package. Lawmakers and voting advocacy groups took part in what amounted to a sustained campaign calling for the country to ensure people could cast votes either in person or by mail despite the coronavirus crisis. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) argued on one press call Thursday that at least $1.6 billion more was needed to guarantee Americans could vote in November. “This next month is critical for our democracy, I can’t think of another time when we faced something quite like this in terms of our limitations,” Klobuchar told reporters. “I think we can do this, I really do, we simply must make sure that people have the right to vote.”

National: Pelosi wants ‘vote by mail’ provisions in next U.S. coronavirus bill | Susan Cornwell/Reuters

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday she wants to virus-proof the November election by including funding to boost voting by mail in the next pandemic response plan being put together by Democrats in the House of Representatives. Pelosi said at least $2 billion, and ideally $4 billion, was needed to enable voting by mail, to give citizens a safe way to vote during the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 4,300 people across the United States. She noted Democrats got just $400 million for that purpose in the $2.3 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday. “Vote by mail is so important to … our democracy so that people have access to voting and not be deterred, especially at this time, by the admonition to stay home,” Pelosi told reporters. Trump told Fox News on Monday that voting by mail would hurt the Republican Party. Pelosi rejected that argument.

National: Democrats Push for Voting by Mail Amid Coronavirus Pandemic | Lindsay Wise and Natalie Andrews/Wall Street Journal

Democrats are pushing for billions of dollars in federal funds to pay for expanded voting by mail this November, as presidential and congressional election deadlines approach and concerns heighten for the health of workers and voters at traditional polling places. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said Wednesday that she wants money for voting by mail to be included in the next stimulus package designed to combat the novel coronavirus, which the House might consider by the end of April. Dozens of states have issued stay-at-home orders, and while a number of health experts expect Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, to peak in the next several months, it is still expected to be a threat in the fall. “Vote by mail is so important to our democracy so that people have access to voting and not be deterred, especially by the admonition to stay home,” said Mrs. Pelosi. The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress last week included $400 million for state and local election officials to address complications created by the virus. It didn’t mandate specific reforms or requirements for how that money can be spent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan think tank, estimates it will cost at least $2 billion for states to implement voting by mail and take other steps to ensure “free and fair” elections can go ahead.

National: Coronavirus response is officially a new front in the election security fight | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

The brief detente in partisan bickering over how to ensure people are safe to vote – and their votes are safe – amid the coronavirus pandemic just burst into open warfare. President Trump suggested on Fox and Friends that one reason he opposed a $4 billion infusion of election money Democrats sought for the coronavirus stimulus was that it might have led to more Democratic victories. Democrats wanted the money to go toward expanding secure vote by mail or early voting options to reduce the risk of people getting infected, should the pandemic still pose risks by November. “They had things, levels of voting that if you ever agree to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” he said, seeming to suggest that higher turnout would help Democrats. House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) shot back, calling that “a monstrous example of putting party ahead of America” and accusing the president of forcing citizens to vote in unsafe ways. The stimulus bill ultimately included $400 million for election security related to the pandemic but no rules for how states must spend it. “Every American, regardless of party affiliation, should condemn the president’s apparent belief that it’s a good thing for American voters to risk their lives when safer voting alternatives are possible,” she said.

National: Pelosi, state Democrats push for more funds for mail-in voting | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and more than 50 state Democratic officials advocated strongly on Tuesday for Congress to give states more funding to support mail-in and absentee voting efforts as part of the next coronavirus stimulus bill.  “In terms of the elections, I think that we’ll probably be moving to vote by mail,” Pelosi said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday. “That’s why we wanted to have more resources in this third bill that just was signed by the president to get those resources to the states to facilitate the reality of life that we are going to have to have more vote by mail.” The coronavirus stimulus package signed into law by President Trump last week included $400 million to allow states to adapt the upcoming primary and general elections during the coronavirus crisis. That amount was far lower than the $4 billion proposed by Pelosi as part of the House version of the stimulus bill, which also would have required states to send absentee ballots to every registered voter and expand early voting. The final coronavirus stimulus package did not include any requirements for how states must use the $400 million. Pelosi said on Monday that she was disappointed the stimulus did not include funding for the U.S. Postal Service to send ballots to Americans, and said she hoped public opinion would help to push Republicans to support more funding for elections in the next coronavirus stimulus bill.

Editorials: States need billions to ensure safe elections | Katie Hobbs and Kim Wyman/CNN

Over the weekend, New York joined Delaware and Pennsylvania as the latest states to move their primaries to June in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the territory of Puerto Rico, which had already moved its primary to late April, now finds itself less than a month away from holding an election, pending another postponement. While a few weeks may seem like an eternity in the midst of a pandemic whose impact is growing by the hour, it leaves little time for state officials to implement emergency plans to administer fair, free and accurate elections in this crisis. These postponements have created concerns that the November general election could be delayed. This is not a good option. Delaying would create confusion by upending the one Election Day that Americans have collectively observed since 1845. Instead, we should invest our time over the next several months toward preparing for November and addressing the problem the coronavirus has made quite apparent: Not all states have the resources to adapt to an environment that discourages social contact. As such, they need significant funding to help them successfully and safely conduct elections. As part of a $2 trillion historic package to boost our health care system and provide financial relief to households and businesses, Congress provided a small down payment to our democracy with $400 million allocated to protecting our elections. But states need billions, not millions, to ensure secure voting.

Editorials: The November election is going to be a nightmare | Paul Waldman/The Washington Post

President Trump has a unique propensity to blurt out what others will only imply, and on “Fox & Friends,” the president offered a revealing lament about the proposals House Democrats had made for the rescue package that eventually passed. “The things they had in there were crazy,” he said. “They had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” That may be an exaggeration, but what is clear is that the November elections could be an absolute mess, not just in how difficult it could be to vote but in determining a winner as well. The Democratic proposal Trump was referencing would have given money to states to aid in conducting this year’s elections, which have been complicated so severely by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the funding, it would have required that states make mail-in voting available to everyone (right now many states require you to have an excuse they consider valid to vote absentee) and in the case of a national emergency, mail ballots to every registered voter. Because of Republican objections, those requirements didn’t make it into the final bill. It did include $400 million in funding to help states prepare for November. That will help, but it’s unlikely to be enough, as states will have to scramble to print more mail ballots and pay for postage, create more dropoff locations, hire people to process ballots, create online registration systems, and inform the public of the changes. The Brennan Center estimates that shoring up the election system in the wake of the coronavirus will cost $2 billion.

National: Trump: If it’s easy for people to vote, Republicans will never win again | Emily Singer/The American Independent

Donald Trump on Monday offered insight into why Republican lawmakers opposed a Democratic proposal in the coronavirus relief package that would’ve allowed states to shift their 2020 elections to all-mail ballots. “If you look at before and after, the things they had in [the bill] were crazy,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning. “They had things, levels of voting that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” Democrats have been pushing for a shift to absentee ballots in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that states could still hold elections even if the virus is still raging in November. Already, a number of states that do not allow for no-excuse absentee voting — that is, allowing voters to vote by mail for any reason — have had to postpone their primary contests, as requiring voters to show up at polling sites, and possibly wait in crowded lines for hours, could further spread the virus. “Without federal action, Americans might have to choose between casting a ballot and protecting their health. That’s wrong, and we must take swift action to address the problem,” Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Ron Wyden of Oregon — who introduced a bill to shift states to all-mail elections — wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “The best way to ensure that this virus doesn’t keep people from the ballot box is to bring the ballot box to them. We must allow every American the ability to vote by mail.”