ACLU Urges Congressional Action to Protect 2020 Elections In Wake of Wisconsin

April 8, 2020 11:45 am

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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union sent a third letter urging Congress to address COVID-19’s impact on the 2020 elections in the next stimulus legislation in the wake of yesterday’s Wisconsin primary, which proceeded after the Wisconsin and U.S. Supreme Courts blocked Gov. Evers from postponing in-person voting and extending absentee ballot deadlines.

States and counties are clearly unprepared to address the seismic shift in election administration necessary to ensure the primaries and elections can proceed safely during the pandemic without diminishing the fundamental right to vote. The letter includes four recommendations:

  1. A federal requirement that all states offer no-excuse mail-in absentee voting to every eligible voter
  2. A federal requirement that all states institute a minimum early in-person voting period of 14 days, including at least one Saturday and one Sunday
  3. $4 billion in federal funding made available immediately to states, counties, and municipalities
  4. An additional $4 million to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission for increased administration and additional state support

The following is a statement from Sonia Gill, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU:

“The coronavirus shouldn’t be a political issue, and it’s clear that the pandemic is impacting our elections. The longer Congress waits to act, the greater the risk to both voters and our nation’s election workers. Early turnout numbers from Milwaukee show a massive drop in turnout, from over 167,000 in 2016 to between 75,000 and 115,000 this year. The Wisconsin fiasco underscores the need for swift congressional action to allow eligible voters to cast their ballots safely — without it, voters will be forced to choose between casting their ballots and protecting their health.

“In the next COVID-19 related legislation, Congress must mandate no-excuse mail-in absentee voting for every eligible voter; a minimum 14 day early voting period; and at least $4 billion in federal funding for states to enact these changes to safeguard both the public’s health and our democracy.”

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