Democrats try again with sweeping mail voting requirements

Democrats try again with sweeping mail voting requirements

Despite an earlier failed attempt, Democrats were set to try again Friday to adopt a massive expansion of voting by mail during the coronavirus outbreak, including $3.6 billion in funding for states to adjust their election systems to deal with the pandemic.

The money was included in a $3 trillion coronavirus response bill that was set for a vote Friday in the Democratic-led House, where it was expected to pass. The Republican-led Senate opposes the bill, and the White House has vowed to veto it.

The most controversial aspect of the election funding section of the bill is another round of mandates that Democrats wish to place on states to ensure they have fair and safe elections at a time when crowded polling stations are a potential health risk.

The bill would require states to end requirements that voters get a legal excuse to request an absentee ballot, mandate 15 days of early voting and order states to mail a ballot to every voter during emergencies.

The Senate blocked similar requirements in a coronavirus relief bill in March.

President Donald Trump’s spokeswoman, Kayleigh McEnany, on Friday said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “exploiting the crisis and pushing for mass mail-in voting even though we know it’s more susceptible to voting fraud.” The six states that use mass mail-in voting have not seen significant voter fraud.

Republicans, including Trump, have also claimed that Democrats would see a political advantage from the vote-by-mail expansion.

“The Speaker’s bill also tries to use the virus as cover to implement sweeping changes to election laws that Democrats have wanted for years,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

Democrats and voting rights groups contend they simply want to protect the voting rights of all citizens, and note that repeated studies have found no widespread fraud and no partisan benefit to expanded voting. “It’s an uninformed political calculation that certain elected Republican officials are making,” said Aaron Scherb of Common Cause.

The requirements are largely aspirational and a starting place for negotiation, said Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, a non-profit advocating for campaign finance reform overhaul. “No. 1 is the money.”

Congress included $400 million in election funding in a previous coronavirus relief bill, but estimates of the total cost to expand mail voting and make in-person voting safer have run as high as $4 billion. The previous failed bill also required that states receiving some of the new funding match it with 20% of their own election dollars — a tough requirement with state budgets cratering amid the pandemic.

Republican secretaries of state have pleaded for more money from Congress even as they’ve bristled against any mandates, saying they know best how to run their own elections. Democrats and voting rights groups hope to be able to get as much funds from the Senate as possible and expect to lose on the mandates.

“Then you will see efforts made on a state-by-state basis to make the process as good as it can be,” Wertheimer said.

That’s already begun, with numerous new lawsuits by Democrats and civil rights groups in several states seeking to increase access to the ballot box during the virus.

Republicans seem open to that inevitability as well.

“It’s much easier to provide the funding to the states, to accommodate things like mail-in voting, and much more appropriate to do that than it is to federalize the elections and tell states how they have to do a job that they will do better than the federal bureaucracy will ever do,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told reporters this week. “I think there’ll likely be more money available for that. ”

Nicholas Riccardi, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Turbulence in Canadian opinion on airlines COVID-19 response: poll

OTTAWA — A new poll suggests turbulence ahead for airlines seeking public… Continue reading

TikTok to leave Hong Kong as security law raises questions

HONG KONG — TikTok said Tuesday it will stop operations in Hong… Continue reading

Uber launches new grocery delivery service in Montreal and Toronto

Uber Technologies Inc. is getting into the grocery delivery business and is… Continue reading

‘Divine event:’ Surgeon who helped man after hike operates on him days later

CALGARY — A Saskatchewan man who had a heart attack after a… Continue reading

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

David Marsden: Leave the financial stimulus to private industry

So, you’ve heard the announcement about the economic stimulus that is much… Continue reading

Betts: Baseball didn’t do good job with response to Floyd

LOS ANGELES — Mookie Betts wasn’t moved by Major League Baseball’s response… Continue reading

Canadian guard Pangos signs with Russian team after two years with Barcelona

Kevin Pangos is on the move to Russia after Barcelona chose not… Continue reading

Country rocker and fiddler Charlie Daniels dies at age 83

NASHVILLE — Charlie Daniels, who went from being an in-demand session musician… Continue reading

Tell-all book by Trump niece to be released next week

NEW YORK — A tell-all book by President Donald Trump’s niece that… Continue reading

FC Dallas pulls out of MLS is Back Tournament in Florida due to COVID-19

FC Dallas pulls out of MLS is Back Tournament in Florida due to COVID-19

Don’t criticize China’s treatment of Hong Kong, Beijing warns Canada

Don’t criticize China’s treatment of Hong Kong, Beijing warns Canada

Bob Rae named UN ambassador, plays down Security Council loss

Bob Rae named UN ambassador, plays down Security Council loss

Most Read