The massive stimulus package unveiled Wednesday includes $400 million to help states safely conduct the 2020 election amid the coronavirus pandemic, but doesn’t spell out any specific changes to voting that need to be made, according to a draft obtained by CNN.
The bill says these new federal grants are intended to help states “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, for the 2020 Federal election cycle.”
States will also be required to file reports with the federal Election Assistance Commission explaining how they spent the money and how it was related to the coronavirus emergency.
State officials have said in recent weeks that they’ll need more funding from Washington to pull off the changes needed to conduct a fair and safe presidential election in November. The stimulus would serve as a $400 million down payment so states can start tackling the problem.
Still, the compromise legislation falls far short of what House Democrats proposed on Monday. That bill included $4 billion for election security grants and would have required all states to relax registration rules, extend early voting and guarantee absentee ballots for all voters.
Senate Democrats said Wednesday that the new federal grants can be used to make these changes. These proposals are among the many ideas being floated by voting rights experts, good government groups and public health officials for how to protect the 2020 election.
“While this funding is a step in the right direction, we must enact election reforms across the country as well as secure more resources to guarantee safe and secure elections,” Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden, who wrote an election security bill, said in a statement.
Only two pages of the nearly 900-page draft bill were devoted to election security.