WASHINGTON—Nestled among the 12 titles and 880 pages of the $2.2 trillion “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020” approved unanimously by the Senate late Wednesday is a paragraph sending $400 million to state governments “to help prepare for the 2020 election.”
The provisions senatorial proponents promise it will enable state election officials to increase the ability of citizens nationwide “to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration, and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll-workers,” according to a summary prepared by Democratic staff members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
It accounts for a mere 0.018 percent of the overall measures $2.2 trillion in federal expenditures, but the provision is “a rare victory” gained by “an unusually intense and coordinated lobbying campaign by some of the major players in the democracy reform movement,” according to its chief media voice, The Fulcrum.
The Fulcrum is published by Issue One, a Washington-based non-profit advocacy group that grew out of the drive for public funding of congressional campaigns and growing fears among liberal activists that corrupt “dark money is flooding our elections.”
Officially, the $400 million was included due to worries that the CCP Virus would mar the November election as millions of Americans would not vote for fear of being exposed to the deadly disease.
But, as The Fulcrum story and the Democratic summary make clear, much more than health concerns were at work behind the scenes as Congress wrestled in recent weeks with three major coronavirus response measures.
Senators Amy Kloubachar (D-Minn.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) were the chief advocates on the Senate side. In a March 16 Washington Post op-ed, the duo wrote:
“The best way to ensure that this virus doesnt keep people from the ballot box is to bring the ballot box to them. We must allow every American the ability to vote by mail.
“And we must expand early voting so that voters who are not able to vote by mail are not exposed to the elevated infection risks of long lines and crowded polling locations.”
On the House side, a more aggressive package of like-minded election reforms was included by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in her Democratic alternative to the measure approved by the Senate.
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) described Pelosis proposals as “nothing but a dangerous ploy to federalize elections,” especially a “ballot harvesting” provision allowing “political operatives in every state … to come to a voters house to pick up their ballot and deliver it to the polling location.”
Pelosis other proposals mandated polling places be within walking distance of public transportation, barred election officials from requiring identification from voters seeking absentee ballots, permitted high school students to be poll watchers, and allowed ballots to be cast from any location.
Catherine Englebrecht, president of Houston-based anti-voting fraud group True the Vote, told The Epoch Times such reforms “take a blowtorch to election integrity,” adding that she had “held out hope that we wouldnt see these kinds of exploitive tactics right now. But no. Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Pelosis alternative bill stalled, however, and, according to The Fulcrum, “the groups mounting the most aggressive lobbying campaigns—including Common Cause, the Brennan Center for Justice, Unite America, the