State election officials to Congress: We’re ready for November despite pandemic

Capitol Review

WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — State election officials ensured a Senate committee Wednesday they have the 2020 elections under control despite an ever-changing pandemic.

“In West Virginia, it is easier to vote and harder to cheat than ever before,” West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner told members of the Rules and Administration Committee.

“It remains true that the most secure and private way to cast a ballot is through in-person voting,” said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

Congress has provided more than $1 billion over the past two years to help states prepare for the election season, including $400 million in the CARES Act. The two Republican state officials said the coronavirus relief helped them buy protective equipment for poll workers, expand early voting options and provide more envelopes for absentee ballots.

“Do you see any real obstacles to someone having an opportunity to vote?,” asked Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN.

“No, sir,” Hargett said. “I don’t.”

While Republicans like Alexander told the committee it’s easy to request and mail an absentee ballot, Democrats like Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, continued to push for universal mail-in voting.

“I would rather be putting ballots in the mailbox than people in the hospital,” Klobuchar said.

That’s why Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, advocated for an additional $3.6 billion from Congress.

“To ensure that every voter has access to vote-by-mail and at least two weeks of early voting this season,” Clarke said.

With only 15 more weeks until the general election, lawmakers hope to pass the next and likely final round of coronavirus relief within the next month.

Warner and Hargett told the committee while additional funds for elections are not an immediate concern of theirs, they would like to see more flexibility in how to use the money if Congress does approve more.

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