Senate Rules Committee Hearing Highlights Election Challenges During a Raging Pandemic

Statement of Aquene Freechild, Democracy is For People Campaign Co-Director, Public Citizen

Note: On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Rules Committee will hold a hearing on election resilience during the pandemic as the U.S. Senate debates the HEROES Act. Public Citizen and allies in the Declaration for American Democracy coalition have been calling on the Senate to pass the version of the HEROES Act passed by the U.S. House in May, which provides $3.6 billion in additional funding to help state and local officials conduct safe elections during the pandemic while also protecting voting rights. On Monday, dozens of organizations announced a week of action targeting the Senate to provide this funding.

We were unprepared for the pandemic. We can’t be caught unprepared for November.

With a little over three months to go until November, it’s do-or-die time when it comes to preparing to hold safe elections amid a raging pandemic. We cannot afford a repeat of what we saw in the primaries in Wisconsin and Georgia. To make sure everyone’s vote counts and that everyone can cast their vote safely, we must provide states with the resources to expand early and mail-in voting, and the funding to ensure that every poll worker and voter is adequately protected in polling locations around the country.

In March, the CARES Act provided $400 million in federal funding for states and localities to boost election safety. It was a start but not nearly enough. The Senate must pass the HEROES Act with the $3.6 billion in desperately needed funding to protect our vote.

If we can bail out banks and large corporations to the tune of $500 billion during the pandemic, we certainly can allocate a tiny fraction of that to save democracy.