States struggle to prepare for voting during a pandemic

Election officials and voting groups continue to demand a large investment by the federal government before the parliamentary elections to help states adapt to the corona virus threat. Proponents have at least called for the expansion of non-apology postal voting across the country, which allows anyone who wants to vote in the mail, as well as substantial investment in the voting infrastructure to protect personal voters and votes, and manage changes in voting .

“It will be a real challenge to make such fundamental changes,” said Trey Grayson, a Republican and former Kentucky Secretary of State. “Election administrators have cut out their work for themselves. The country and states now have to make decisions to deploy these administrators [the] Position to subtract these things. “

The Coronavirus Economic Relief Act, which President Donald Trump signed last week, contains $ 400 million election security grants to help states “prevent, prepare and respond to coronavirus”. But that’s a number that many warn is far from enough.

“Everyone has to make a contribution, but Congress really has to make an effort,” said Wendy Weiser, vice president of democracy at the Brennan Center. “In my opinion, they are currently changing our democracy and the American people.”

The Brennan Center appreciated his own “Covid 19 election resilience measures” – that includes everything from extending an email voting option to every American, maintaining personal voting securely, to running a large public awareness campaign – will cost $ 2 billion, an estimate that Wise Men calls ” conservative “. Other estimates assume that the cost is even higher.

Even early shifts towards mail voting for upcoming primaries have proven costly and challenging.

In Wisconsin, where officials have refused to postpone the state primaries on April 7 because parliamentary and local elections are scheduled for the same day, elected officials and parties have urged voters to get postal ballots, instead of appearing in person. But employees across the state ran out of envelopes for the ballot papers, which prompted the state to intervene with you Emergency orders of more than 1 million additional envelopes.

Wisconsin’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers, also called for each voter to be sent a postal vote late last week. But the state election administrators said they would not have the supplies for it, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, and Republican lawmakers opposed the request, calling it logistically impossible.

As of Monday morning, more than 883,000 people in Wisconsin had applied for postal ballot papers, well over 250,000 postal ballot papers submitted in the 2016 primaries – but far behind the turnout this year when about 2.1 million people voted in competitive presidential competitions.

Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, announced last week that his office would send postal mailing request forms to each of Georgia’s 6.9 million active voters ahead of the scheduled area code on May 19. In an interview with POLITICO prior to the signing of the Coronavirus Aid Package, Raffensperger estimated that the absence vote would cost around $ 13 million, and he said the state would pay part of the cost that would normally be borne by counties by existing ones Federal grants are used. “We had enough money to do this for this one choice,” said Raffensperger.

His move – which received great applause from the Georgian Democratic Party, a rarity in a country where there were major partisan conflicts over the right to vote – practically guarantees that the number of votes cast by post in this year’s area code will be dramatic will increase what could test that of the state electoral infrastructure. Raffensperger’s office said that only about 5 percent of voters cast their votes in the mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections.

However, some Republicans in the state paled Raffensperger’s plan. State House spokesman David Ralston urged the legislature Check the extension The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the state’s postal ballot and said the primary should be delayed further. District governments and Raffensperger, a former state legislature, declined Ralston’s calls.

However, some states have had difficulty adjusting. In Ohio, the area code of March 17 was plunged into chaos Election deadline in the eleventh hour. State legislation eventually decided to do so extend its primary until April 28th and keep it only in the mail.

However, state law has only authorized Ohio’s Secretary of State Frank LaRose to send voters postcards with instructions on how to apply for a postal voting form, which they must then obtain and submit to receive postal voting. A Republican, LaRose, wanted both a later elementary school and the ability to send ballot papers directly to voters. Civil rights groups believe that the current April 28 system disenfranchises many voters.

And, under normal circumstances, the general election would be much more expensive and complicated to conduct than the primaries, let alone fighting a pandemic. It is not so easy to significantly increase the number of people voting in the mail like just sending ballot papers. Election administrators and supporters agree that this is a complicated and expensive change that requires as much lead time as possible.

“However people turn to the primaries, the general election is a much bigger test. The volume is dramatically higher, ”said Weiser. “Primaries tend to have voters who are more likely to vote than general elections. … The task for the general election is much more important. “

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