Funding for Mail-In Voting Could Be a Flashpoint in Debate Over ‘Phase 4’ COVID-19 Relief Bill - Do You Support It?
Should Congress provide more federal funding for states to use in implementing mail-in voting?
by Causes | 5.12.20
What’s the story?
- Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, numerous states have modified their 2020 primary elections to allow for extended voting deadlines and in some cases, a wholesale switch to vote-by-mail.
- With House Democrats drafting their version of a “phase 4” coronavirus relief package, one of the more controversial policies that could be included is additional federal funding to support states in their use of mail-in voting in November’s general election.
- Through the CARES Act, Congress provided $400 million in funding for federal grants that can help states modify their election systems because of the coronavirus, but House Democrats’ new bill will likely aim to make billions of dollars in additional funding available.
- Democrats may introduce the package soon and hold a vote as early as Friday. But Republicans argue it’s a non-starter and have expressed concern that vote-by-mail could invite election fraud, which foreshadows the partisan showdown that will soon play out in Congress and in states across the country.
Partisan Controversy in California
- An example of the electoral quarrels that are brewing is playing out in Southern California this week. California previously used vote-by-mail on a county-by-county basis, but in light of the pandemic Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) mandated that all voters receive mail-in ballots in this spring’s special elections and in November’s general election, while allowing in-person voting centers to continue to operate.
- Voting is set to conclude on Tuesday, May 12th, in a competitive special election in California’s 25th congressional district. Either Mike Garcia (R) or Christy Smith (D) will fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Katie Hill (D), who resigned due to her involvement in a sex scandal involving campaign and congessional staffers. A Republican win would be the GOP’s first pickup of a CA seat since 1998 per the non-partisan Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman.
- This particular special election has been closely contested, and Wasserman noted that Democrats were “sounding alarm” because mail-in ballots returned as of May 7th were leaning towards Garcia, the GOP candidate. They responded by opening an in-person voting center (in-person voting in CA tends to help Democrats mobilize their voters) in Lancaster, a Democratic-leaning area that was the only population center in the district without an in-person voting center.
- The move prompted President Donald Trump to accuse the California Democrats of partisan shenanigans in a pair of weekend tweets:
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Clipdude via Wikimedia / Creative Commons)
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