Did the Recent Stimulus Bill Do Anything for Voting Rights?


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Did the most recent coronavirus stimulus bill do anything to protect our election in November?

Leading up to the passage of this legislation, there was a growing cry for Americans to be able to vote by mail, to ensure that democracy and our citizens’ health would both be protected. I wanted to find out what actually ended up in the bill.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi had asked for $4 billion to expand access to voting in the House draft of the bill, and the Republican-led Senate asked for only $140 million. In negotiation, only $400 million made it into the fill bill. Pelosi tried to get early voting expanded to 15 days prior to an election, to remove any requirement for an excuse to request an absentee ballot, and to mail every registered voter a ballot (like Oregon and three other states already do), among other things.

According to Roll Call, the money that was allocated is “to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration, and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll-workers.”

States are expecting a surge in voters wanting to vote by mail (and states that have primary elections coming up soon are reporting increased interest). To just take care of the postage required to send that many voters their ballot would cost anywhere from $400 – $600 million dollars. And that doesn’t account for any expenses for the equipment and supplies need to print those ballots.

Speaker Pelosi has made it clear to her caucus that she will continue to fight for more money for voting and elections in future stimulus bills. We can help this effort by imploring both our state and federal legislators to demand more money for voting access. We must prepare to hold our elections in November and ensure that both our voters and poll workers are kept as safe as possible.

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