“Coronavirus response includes $400 million in election assistance. Will it be enough?”

Roll Call:

A sweeping federal spending package responding to the new coronavirus pandemic will include millions to help states administer elections, but some fear it will not be enough to prevent chaos in November.

The enormous spending bill expected to be released Wednesday morning will include $400 million in election assistance, according to two sources who have seen a summary of the bill from appropriators. That figure is still a fraction of the $2 billion the Brennan Center for Justice estimated is necessary for states to prepare for a surge of voters casting ballots by mail and to ensure safe in-person voting….

Election officials are already scrambling to adjust to the pandemic, postponing primaries and stressing absentee voting options so voters can avoid polling places. To curb the spread of the virus, public health officials have recommended gatherings not exceed 10 people….

ven without a federal mandate, election officials are still expecting a surge in voters requesting to mail in their ballots in November. Officials are also in need of additional resources, such as cleaning supplies to disinfect polling places. And they are expecting a shortage of poll workers. Those workers tend to be senior citizens, who appear to be more vulnerable to life-threatening illness from the virus.

“What we know now is that [election administrators] are going to be looking at increased vote-by-mail, probably in every jurisdiction in the country,” said Hovland. “And with that increase, and additional steps to make sure that voting in the polling place can also be safe for voters … there are going to be these additional unanticipated costs.”

Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program at New York University’s law school, said Tuesday that a few hundred million dollars from Congress would be “woefully inadequate” to cover those costs.


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