Washington, D.C. — In a new video released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) lambasted congressional Republicans’ efforts to block federal funding for vote by mail during the coronavirus pandemic and urged voters to call their members of Congress to demand “immediate and full funding for safe and secure voting reforms” ahead of the November election. This comes as experts predict that the pandemic will threaten the integrity of the election and as the United States leads the world in coronavirus cases with more than 3.8 million confirmed cases and more that 145,000 fatalities.
In May, the House Democrats’ HEROES Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives but was met with strong opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called the $3 trillion legislation “an unserious product from an unserious majority.” The legislation would provide a coronavirus relief package to Americans; provide funding for expanding vote by mail and early voting; make in-person voting safer; and upgrade voting systems for the pandemic. Despite false claims that voting by mail leads to voter fraud, these steps are key to keeping Americans safe at the polls this November and are critical to avoiding what leading scientists describe as a potential superspreader event, as was seen in Wisconsin’s primary election this year.
According to the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of Americans favor vote by mail or early voting, putting the Republicans opposing these measures far out of step with the public. In the video, Sen. Baldwin says that by trying to force Americans to vote in person by blocking federal funding to expand vote by mail, Republicans are taking advantage of this crisis, saying, “Republicans are taking advantage of the pandemic to prevent Americans from voting this November.” In primary elections in states across the country, including Georgia, voters were forced to wait in line for hours to vote. As Sen. Baldwin says, this disparity is worse for Black voters who have to wait 45 percent longer in line than white voters, which increases their potential exposure to the virus. Sen. Baldwin says that congressional Republicans’ refusal to fund election security fits a pattern and practice of voter suppression efforts, saying, “The obstruction is no accident. It’s part of the Republicans’ ongoing efforts to suppress votes across the country, particularly in key states.”
Full remarks from Sen. Tammy Baldwin:
Republicans are taking advantage of the pandemic to prevent Americans from voting this November.
Health care experts have warned that taking a business-as-usual approach to elections this year could lead to a superspreader event.
Expanding vote by mail and early voting, making in-person voting safer, and upgrading election systems for the pandemic are some of the essential steps to keep Americans safe at the polls.
But states need funding to do it.
And Republicans in Congress have blocked the full federal funding that states need to be prepared for the crucial November election. It would cost less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the coronavirus response so far.
This obstruction is no accident. It is part of Republicans’ ongoing efforts to suppress votes across the country, particularly in key states.
In Wisconsin, after state Republican officials blocked commonsense changes, the state’s vote-by-mail system failed. Thousands of Wisconsin voters had no choice but to wait in long lines to vote in person.
In Georgia, many voters never received the mail-in ballots they requested months before Election Day. Georgia’s Republican secretary of state failed to provide counties with the training, resources, and voting-machine support they needed. Some Atlanta voters even brought chairs to wait in polling place lines that exceeded five hours.
Not surprisingly, these election breakdowns disproportionately hurt Black voters, who have been subject to a long history of Republican voter suppression.
On average, Black voters have to wait 45 percent longer in line than white voters, leaving them more vulnerable to the virus when voting.
No one should have to choose between their health and casting a ballot.
Here’s what you can do: Call your members of Congress. Demand immediate and full funding for safe and secure voting reforms.
Let your local leaders know that you want options including vote by mail and early in-person voting.
Republicans in Congress cannot be allowed to cheat their way to reelection.
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