In Senate Hearing: Klobuchar Leads Call to Protect Americans' Right to Vote During the Pandemic
Today, just 104 days before the 2020 General Election, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections, spoke about the need to need to make sure no voter has to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote during a full hearing of the Senate Rules Committee on 2020 General Election Preparations. Klobuchar spoke about the need for increased federal funding to protect our elections amidst an unprecedented pandemic and foreign interference in our elections.
"I would rather be putting ballots in a mailbox than people in the hospital," Klobuchar said. "That's a choice we have for so many voters and that's why you see overwhelming support for getting funding, and something I believe we can get done on a bipartisan basis."
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and continued attacks from foreign adversaries, Congress has failed to provide adequate funding and pass comprehensive election security and reform legislation for states to secure and administer elections.
The Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020, introduced on March 18, 2020 by Klobuchar and Senator Ron Wyden (D-WA) and now with 36 cosponsors, would ensure Americans are still able to vote during the pandemic by expanding early in-person voting and voting by mail to all states as well as providing funding to train poll workers. Most of the provisions in her legislation have now been included in the HEROES Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives in May.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Klobuchar has consistently encouraged her colleagues to join her in taking action to ensure voters can cast their ballots safely during the pandemic.
Last month, Klobuchar spoke on the floor of the Senate and asked for unanimous consent to pass her legislation. The unanimous consent failed due to objections from Senate Republicans, but Senator Roy Blunt, Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, announced that he would hold today's Rules Committee hearing on election safety and agreed on the need for additional funding to protect elections from coronavirus.
On June 11, Klobuchar led her colleagues in a letter to Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt, Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, and Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in calling for hearings on the threat coronavirus poses for elections.
In May, Klobuchar took to the Senate floor Klobuchar to ask for unanimous consent to lift restrictions that prevent states from accessing election funding designated to help them safely carry out elections during the pandemic, Republicans objected to Klobuchar's request.
In April, Klobuchar wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on the need to expand mail voting, early voting, and online voter registration. In March, Klobuchar and Wyden wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, highlighting the need "to protect the foundation of our democracy by ensuring that every eligible American can safely cast a ballot in the upcoming elections."
Before the Senate considered the third coronavirus relief package, Senators Coons and Klobuchar wrote a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, urging them to include funding to protect the 2020 elections. In April, Klobuchar, Coons, and Wyden published an op-ed in USA TODAY, highlighting the need for the fourth relief package to include money and direction for states to expand vote-by-mail and early voting.