House Republicans Introduce Emergency Assistance for Safe Elections Act
WASHINGTON – Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and several House Republicans introduced the Emergency Assistance for Safe Elections (EASE) Act to help states ensure those who want to vote in person can do so safely and make mail-in voting more secure by cleaning their voter rolls. The EASE Act provides the assistance state and local election administrators have been asking Congress for while putting commonsense restrictions on what the funding can go towards. Davis is encouraging this bill to be included as part of the negotiations for the next coronavirus relief package.
Additionally, the EASE Act was introduced by U.S. Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Dan Meuser (R-PA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Don Young (R-AK), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Mike Garcia (R-CA), and Steve Chabot (R-OH).
“A recent poll found that 59% of Americans still prefer to vote in person,” said Davis. “The EASE Act helps states offer people a safe way to vote in person and makes mail-in voting options more secure by ensuring their voter rolls are clean and ballots are only mailed to, and from, the individuals actually residing at that residence. Most states are faced with running essentially two kinds of elections this fall: in-person and expanded mail-in voting, which means added costs to get it right. When states failed to do this in recent primaries, the risk of disenfranchising voters increased significantly. Voters waited up to 5 hours to vote in some areas because polling places were significantly reduced and tens of thousands of ballots were not counted because they didn’t arrive on time. It’s critical we include this bill in the next coronavirus relief package to help states start planning now. Continuing to engage with local election officials and provide oversight of states will be necessary to protect the right to vote in the November election.”
The introduction of the EASE Act follows oversight letters Davis sent to ten localities across the country where voters faced significant hurdles to vote during recent primaries.
The EASE Act authorizes $400 million, which was the same amount provided in the bipartisan CARES Act, to help states do the following:
- Ensure polling places are clean and safe for voters. Authorizes $200 million to help local election administrators ensure polling places are clean and safe for voters. Funds could be used for disinfecting equipment for voting machines, personal protective equipment (PPE) for poll workers, etc.
- Recruit a new generation of poll workers. The shortage of poll workers is an issue faced by election administrators across the country because the typical poll worker is 65 or older, which is a designated at-risk population for the coronavirus. The bill provides $100 million to recruit younger volunteers by establishing a program to help pay part of the student loan costs of people who serve as poll workers.
- Cleaning their voter rolls. Outdated state voter rolls increase the risk for fraud, especially when vote-by-mail is expanded. The bill provides $100 million to help state and local officials clean their voter rolls and maintain accurate voter registration lists.
- Secure non-voting technology. We have seen an influx of next-generation technology, such as e-pollbooks, being used at polling places. This bill updates the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which established voluntary guidelines for voting machines, to secure non-voting technology.
- Prevents ballot harvesting. Recently, the results of a congressional election in North Carolina was invalidated because of fraud associated with ballot harvesting. Preventing ballot harvesting, where political operatives go door-to-door collecting ballots, is not only critical to protecting the integrity of our elections everywhere, but also maintaining social distancing guidelines that keep people safe from coronavirus. This bill bans ballot harvesting.