The Republican coronavirus stimulus plan revealed it does not propose a single dollar in election assistance funding. The Republican plan obtained by the New York Times Thursday doesn't mention election funding directly, but it does note that the GOP relief package will propose "no additional money for state/local governments."
Voting rights advocates say the election assistance money is necessary to help states expand vote-by-mail and ensure that in-person polling places are adequately equipped and prepared to safely hold a general election amid a pandemic. Failing to approve election funding could drive down turnout in November by limiting voters' ballot options in an environment where it is potentially dangerous to vote in person.
"It is outrageous that this proposal contains not one penny to help states conduct safe elections during a global pandemic," Sean Eldridge, founder and president of Stand Up America, said in a statement. "Policymakers should be doing everything they can to ensure voters are not forced to risk their health to cast their ballot. Instead," Eldridge said, "it seems Mitch McConnell is doing everything he can to suppress the vote by putting voters in danger."
"Democrats in both chambers cannot allow Republicans to threaten the foundation of our democracy—and they must use every piece of available leverage to ensure election funding is included in a final brokered deal," said Eldridge. "Nothing less than our democracy is at stake."
Stand Up America and other voting rights groups are demanding that Congress approve $3.6 billion in election assistance funding—a fraction of the $21.3 billion the GOP plan proposes handing to the Pentagon on top of the agency's likely $740.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2021.
Trump's repeated and baseless attacks on mail-in voting as well as his refusal to commit to accepting the results of the 2020 election have added urgency to ensure a safe and fair contest.
Voter suppression, electoral roll purges, the closing of thousands of polling places, hindering the postal delivery service, and the fear of the coronavirus will scare many people away.