Washington, D.C. — Last week, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security, and leading House Democrats with oversight over federal elections and voting rights called for additional voter protections and funding to ensure safe and orderly elections in the wake of dangerous conditions during last week’s primary election in Wisconsin.
Chairman Lynch issued the following statement with Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y), Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on Elections Chairperson Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio), and Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Chairman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).
“It is now clear that the right to vote for all Americans in the November general election may be in jeopardy without swift and substantial investments in our nation’s election infrastructure. Without decisive action by Congress, the coronavirus crisis may exacerbate dangerous impediments for voters, including closed or restricted access to polling places and public health restrictions that deter voter participation—all of which could result in depressed voter turnout that undermines the will of the American people and degrades confidence in our elections.
“The $4 billion in election assistance grants proposed by House Democrats are needed now more than ever to keep polling places open, safe, and to help ensure citizens are able to vote by mail. These funds must be free from burdensome matching requirements that prevent states from quickly deploying resources where they are urgently needed. Vote-by-mail and early voting options are commonsense and tested solutions that will both protect public health and the fundamental American right to vote.
“The dangerous conditions during Wisconsin’s primary election last week forced far too many voters to make an impossible choice—risk exposure to a deadly virus or exercise their right to vote—as thousands of voters were forced to endure overcrowding and long lines. This pandemic does not discriminate by political party or ideology. An election that forces voters to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballots is not a free and fair election.
“President Trump admitted last month that he and his fellow Republicans have a political incentive for making it harder for Americans to vote in November, and it is deeply unfortunate that he is using the coronavirus crisis toward that end. It is equally disappointing that Senate Leader McConnell blocked $3.6 billion in election assistance funding in the recent CARES Act.
“It is time for our nation to come together to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to cast their ballots without fear and to work constructively to make sure states have the resources and guidance they need to ensure free, fair, and safe elections.”