Coronavirus deal includes funds for mail-in voting

The coronavirus stimulus deal the Senate is expected to pass on a bipartisan basis Wednesday includes $400 million to shore up elections and promote mail-in voting in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

A Senate source told The Hill that the $400 million would be made available to states to “help prepare for the 2020 election cycle, including to increase the ability 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.”

The funds, which were included in an estimated $2 trillion spending package that the Senate is expected to approve on Wednesday, are an increase from the previous $140 million figure proposed in an earlier Senate funding bill.

The $400 million is a major decrease in comparison to a spending package rolled out by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) earlier this week, which proposed giving states $4 billion to ensure elections would be able to continue this year despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Senate Democrats and election advocates pushed hard in recent days for the Senate to include the funds in any coronavirus spending deal. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.) led the effort to pressure Republicans to increase the proposed amount, calling for $2 billion to be included.

This figure was based on a report put out by New York University‘s Brennan Center for Justice last week. The report estimated states would need around $2 billion to ensure they could provide all Americans with the option to vote by mail, increase the ability to absentee vote, hire more poll workers and boost the safety of in-person polling sites.