The National Association of Counties’ Elections Subcommittee sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee and Congressional leadership urging additional federal funding for counties to strengthen, protect, and secure the nation’s election system ahead of the 2020 election cycle.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, Maryland’s local election officials yesterday made a final appeal to the State Board of Elections to implement a series of recommendations to address concerns over a shortage of poll workers, polling places, and personal protective equipment in the midst of a pandemic.
Under Governor Larry Hogan’s plan, all in-person voting locations will be open and voters will be mailed an absentee ballot application (instead of an absentee ballot). for the November 3 general election.
In the letter the U.S. Senate members, NACo’s Elections Subcommittee highlights the critical role counties play in the funding and administration of our nation’s elections. Across our nation, county election officials oversee 109,000 polling locations and coordinate 694,000 poll workers every two years.
These officials also traditionally oversee the hiring and training of these workers and prepare for “hard security” challenges at polling locations, such as mitigating a natural disaster or establishing protocols for an active shooter situation.
However, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have presented counties with added and unforeseen responsibilities. These costly duties include the provision of additional voting methods as well as the need to keep polling places sanitized and in compliance with social distancing requirements.
Given the current and expected budget shortfalls experienced by counties across the country, counties will need additional funding in order to address each of these new challenges.
According to NACo:
Ensuring safe and secure elections has been and continues to be a top priority for county election officials. These officials work tirelessly to protect against data breaches of voter rolls, tampering of county election websites, voter fraud at polling places and other security risks. Due to the efforts and actions taken by county election staffs on a daily basis, voter fraud is essentially non-existent in the U.S.
While counties applaud Congress for their bipartisan work to deliver essential election-related resources through the CARES Act, some of these funds remained at the state level and have not assisted counties in their efforts to administer and secure elections. Therefore, counties strongly urge lawmakers that any new funds be administered either in coordination or consultation with local governments or be made directly available to local governments.
County officials continue to serve on the front lines of election administration and security efforts as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional federal funding is crucial for them to continue to provide these much-needed services to their communities.