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Election Officials, National Security Experts, and Business Leaders’ Support for More Election Funding

Election officials, public health and national security experts, and business and other leaders have urged Congress to provide more federal funds to ensure this fall's election in free, fair and secure in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last Updated: August 4, 2020
Published: May 11, 2020

Table of Contents


Letters to Congress

Letter from 1,000 public health experts

Letter from Business for America

Letter from national security leaders and experts

Letter from 11 Secretaries of State 

Letter from the Election Center (National Association of Election Officials)

Letter from the Election Commissioners Association the State of New York, Democratic Caucus

Letter from the Florida Supervisors of Elections

Letter from the Georgia Association of Voter Registrars & Election Officials

Letter from the Iowa State Association of County Auditors

Letter from the National Association of Counties (July 21, 2020)

Letter from the National Association of Counties (April 6, 2020)

Letter from the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks

Letter from the Missouri Association of County Clerks & Election Authorities

Letter from the Ohio Association of Election Officials

Letter from over 100 election officials

Letter from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission

Letter from U.S. House veterans


Editorials/Op-eds About the Need for Federal Funding

Missouri, other states must protect our elections during COVID-19. Roy Blunt can help Kansas City Star, August 2, 2020

Keeping polling locations safe, accessible amid COVID-19 costly, complicated: Funds needed Clarion Ledger, July 30, 2020

We’re Republican Election Officials, and We Are Worried Politico, July 30, 2020

Congress must act now to preserve integrity of and faith in our electoral process Lexington Herald Leader, July 28, 2020

Jeff Greenburg: Congress must safeguard integrity of elections Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 27, 2020

Congress needs to support Florida's elections Roll Call, July 24, 2020

Republicans must admit the obvious and get a new coronavirus relief bill passed immediately Washington Post, July 22, 2020

It was a rough primary season. The general election could be worse Washington Post, July 20, 2020

Congress must act to protect the legitimacy of the election this fall Hill, July 8, 2020

Texas GOP shouldn't fear expanded absentee voting Dallas Morning News, May 25, 2020

Column: Election boards face huge, costly task in November Columbus Dispatch, May 22, 2020 

Editorial: Amid election uncertainty, we must plan for mail voting Columbus Dispatch, April 28, 2020

Americans deserve the right to vote without endangering their lives Philadelphia Inquirer, April 26, 2020

What’s Super Popular? Voting by Mail Nation, April 23, 2020

Protect the November election Boston Globe, April 15, 2020

COVID will wreck our elections, if Congress allows it NJ.COM, March 31, 2020


Election Official Quotes

Alabama

James E. Tatum, Probate Judge and Chief Election Official, Bullock County

  • “Earlier this year, Congress allocated $400 million through the CARES Act toward election funding. That is a vitally important start, but it is not nearly enough to ensure that our elections are secure and that voting is accessible to all who are eligible…State and local election officials are doing their jobs, but we cannot do it alone. As Congress continues to negotiate the next financial stimulus package, it must provide additional funds that are urgently needed for us to protect every voter and every vote.”  Probate judge: CARES Act election money important but not nearly enough Union Springs Herald, July 1, 2020 

Arizona

Virginia Ross, Pinal County Recorder and President of the Arizona Recorders Association

Lisa M. Marra, Cochise County Election Director and President of the Election Officials of Arizona

  • Ross and Marra co-authored an op-ed in April 2020, urging the state to expand mail voting options. It reads: "On behalf of the Arizona Recorders Association and the Election Officials of Arizona, we believe it is crucial that the Legislature extend our ability to hold ballot-by-mail elections for state and federal elections, a practice already authorized for jurisdictional elections. It is the best way to ensure Arizona voters are safe during this pandemic and have the certainty of the continuity of our democracy.” We run elections in Arizona. An all-mail option for 2020 wouldn't ruin the process AZ Central, April 8, 2020


Arkansas

Terri Hollingsworth, Circuit and County Clerk, Pulaski County

  • “To ensure a smooth transition as county clerks pivot to meet a significant increase in absentee voting, we need greater assistance from the Secretary of State…The governor must [allocate] emergency funds to adequately supplement the needs of all 75 counties, to conduct a safe November election. Adequate means funding additional costs for postage, printing, processing, canvassing, and tabulating absentee requests and completed ballots.” Open Letter from Pulaski County Circuit and County Clerk July 2, 2020 

Colorado

Jena Griswold, Colorado Secretary of State  

  • “It’s encouraging that the U.S. Senate has recognized the need to fund American elections during this national health crisis. The planned $400 million of stimulus funding for states to promote mail ballots is a good step forward, but ultimately will need to be augmented in order for states to adopt mail ballots before the November General Election. With just six months to the election, action and funding are needed now.” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold Statement on Election Funding in Coronavirus Stimulus Package Colorado Secretary of State, March 26, 2020 


Connecticut

Denise Merrill, Connecticut Secretary of State

J.R. Romano, Chairman, Connecticut Republican Party 


Georgia

Deidre Holden, Paulding County Elections Supervisor and Co-President of the Georgia Election Officials Association

Lynn Bailey, Executive Director, Augusta County Board of Elections 

Charlene Maynard, Administrative Assistant, Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections 

  • Maynard has been working on the elections office's budget for since February, and states that the county has ignored requested increases in many areas. “This budget makes us look like we don’t know what we’re doing and that’s not fair,” she said. “We asked for a printer cartridge line item of $18,300. They did not add that accounting line in at all…We don’t have enough money to pay for things.” ‘We don’t have enough money,’ Bibb elections board says of budget reduction Telegraph, June 25, 2020

Sam Tillman, Chairman, DeKalb Board of Registrations and Elections 

  • During a June 23 briefing with county commissioners, Tillman said the election office would request an additional $1.3 million for the previously approved 2020 budget. The additional funds would go towards “personnel, equipment, postage, supplies, everything that we could think of,” Tillman said. DeKalb elections officials working on plan to prevent future issues Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 24, 2020 

Janine Eveler, Director of Elections and Registration, Cobb County

Charles Dave, Election Superintendent, Brooks County


Iowa

Paul Pate, Iowa Secretary of State 

Roxanna Moritz, Scott County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections and President of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors

  • "As we're losing revenue or adding additional costs to all of our county budgets,we all know that it's going to be a struggle moving into November." (15:30) Interview 3: Considerations for CARES Act Grant Funding Use at the Local Level U.S. Election Assistance Commission, May 21, 2020
  • "I really feel like funding was, in elections, already underfunded before COVID-19. You know, we were looking for monies in order to shore up the cybersecurity side of everything within elections, and we...have lots of counties that are very small who don't have IT departments, and I think it's very important that we remember that we're running dual campaigns here right now -- the election cyber security and COVID all at the same time, and we need funding to ensure that...we can deliver a good election." (25:00) Interview 3: Considerations for CARES Act Grant Funding Use at the Local Level U.S. Election Assistance Commission, May 21, 2020

Kentucky

Jared Dearing, Executive Director, Kentucky State Board of Elections 


Louisiana

Kyle Ardoin, Louisiana Secretary of State

  • Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican, said that he opposes Democrats' proposals to attach requirements to the funding such as mandating the option to vote by mail. But, he added, "I am disappointed that much-needed federal funding will not be included in the Senate's coronavirus bill to help stem the rising tide of pandemic costs along with increased ballot security costs." Senate GOP Coronavirus Package Omits Additional Elections Funding Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2020

Maine

Matthew Dunlap, Maine Secretary of State

  • Secretary of State and Chief Election Official notes that the required match for CARES Act funding is making it an issue for the Maine legislature: “We are hoping they will change,” Dunlap said. “The delegation has been very responsive to the whole match issue, which even if the Legislature weren’t out of town, with what the budget projections are showing, a $658,000 match feels like a pretty heavy lift right now.” Maine may struggle to claim federal pandemic funding for elections Press Herald, April 27, 2020

Michigan

Cynthia Bower, City Clerk, Taylor

Tina Barton, City Clerk and Chief Elections Official, Rochester Hills

  • “What kind of price tag are you going to put on the integrity of the election process and the safety of those who work it and those who vote?” said Tina Barton, the city clerk and chief elections official in Rochester Hills, Michigan, a state where Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 by fewer than 11,000 votes. “Those are the things at risk.” 'Epic failure': U.S. election officials warn of November chaos due to budget crunch Reuters, July 10, 2020 

John Gleason, Clerk, Genesse County 

Michael Hanley, Clerk, Saginaw County 

  • “(This effort) is very simple: It’s about protecting the public safety when they vote in August and November, whether they choose to vote at home or more difficultly in a polling place,” Hanley said. “We want to make sure that we’ve got the protective equipment for election workers and for voters to be able to vote safely, we believe that should be a right. Our elections are the bedrock of our country and they’re worth protecting.” Mid-Michigan county clerks team up to endorse bipartisan safe voting initiative MLive, July 10, 2020 

Jocelyn Benson, Michigan Secretary of State  

  • “There are things Michigan needs federally as well: more funding for PPE, high-speed tabulators, postage and mailings, and stronger support for the U.S. Postal Service...The amount of equipment and funding for polling locations, and the number of election workers we’ve recruited and trained has been based on a small percentage casting of voters casting absentee ballots. That percentage, however, is shifting. We must adapt our system to that shift.” Vote-by-mail worked in Michigan. Here’s what we need to succeed in the fall Brookings, July 19, 2020 
  • Jocelyn Benson (D), Michigan’s secretary of state, responded to a question on Twitter about whether $400 million was enough with a single syllable: “No.” Senate stimulus package includes $400 million to help run elections amid the pandemic Washington Post, March 25, 2020 

Missouri

Shane Schoeller, Clerk, Green County

  • "County revenues are down significantly here in the past two months. We're already asked to look at where we can make line-item reductions for this current year. And when you're an election office during the tear 2020, any major election year, this is not the year that you can be making very many line items reductions. So that's where this additional funding is going to be so significant...We look forward to hopefully being able to secure more funding as we look towards the rest of this year." (19:40) Interview 3: Considerations for CARES Act Grant Funding Use at the Local Level U.S. Election Assistance Commission, May 21, 2020

New York

James Scheuerman, Democratic Elections Commissioner, Nassau County 

  • [Schuerman], who expects his county to send about 600,000 [absentee ballot] applications, said that covering the cost of return postage as required by the governor is expensive. “Nassau County got $1.9 million in the federal COVID funds grant, and that is a bulk of that,” Scheuerman said. “I believe somewhere between $1 million and $1.4 (million) is going to go just for postage.” How local boards of elections are preparing for the pandemic primary City & State, May 14, 2020 

Thomas Nichols, Elections Commissioner, St. Lawrence County  

  • The most absentee ballots he recalls [his office] had ever received was 3,200 during a general election. This year, if 30% of voters request a ballot, that number could skyrocket to between 16,000 and 19,000. “I’m not complaining, I’m saying that’s a monumental challenge for a small staff and a lot of rural counties,” Nichols said. He said that his agency received about $126,000 in federal funds, which is expected to cover only about half of the cost of the primaries alone. How local boards of elections are preparing for the pandemic primary City & State, May 14, 2020 

Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky, Commissioner, Rockland County Board of Elections 

  • Zebrowski Stavisky said Rockland has received $398,000 in federal funding, but said it’s not enough. Postage for mailing the applications alone will cost $90,000 and given that’s just the first step, she said, “the pot is shrinking quickly.” How local boards of elections are preparing for the pandemic primary City & State, May 14, 2020 

Nevada

Wayne Thorley, Deputy for Elections, Nevada 


North Carolina

Members of the Rowan County Elections Board

  • “[Members] of the [Rowan County] Elections Board advocated for more funding from the county’s 2020-21 budget, which was passed on June 16. The board requested $927,196 but was only approved for $722,410. Last year, the board was allocated a little more than $700,000. County manager Aaron Church... called this year's budget 'tight' and 'conservative'..." COVID-19 election funds will supplement county money in November Salisbury Post, June 26, 2020 

George W. Benson, Board Member, Rowan County Board of Elections 

  • In a letter urging the calling for commissioners and board members to approve the newly proposed Rowan County budget, Benson writes, "It is the responsibility of the Board of Elections to offer all ways possible for a citizen to do their civic duty, vote. And it is the responsibility of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners to fund this right of democracy." Letter: Fund right of democracy, fully approve elections budget Salisbury Post, June 2, 2020 

Karen Brinson Bell, Executive Director, North Carolina State Board of Elections 

  • "[Election officials] have day-to-day operations that they have to fund and budget and prepare for, and when something of this nature comes along, that's totally outside of the budgets that they've prepared." Federal Election Funding Is Needed To Keep North Carolina Residents Safe in November Center for American Progress, July 17, 2020.
  • “We are preparing for more than 4.5 million voters to vote in-person or by-mail in this election…And while we would like to think that coronavirus will be a distant memory by November, we must prepare to address lingering fears, new social norms, and the possibility that the virus could reoccur seasonally as do influenza and other viruses. As elections officials, we must prepare for the worst-case scenario to ensure that voters are able to cast their ballots.” State Board CARES Act request and legislative recommendations update North Carolina State Board of Elections, April 22, 2020 

Ohio

Aaron Ockerman, Executive Director, Ohio Association of Election Officials  

LaVera Scott, Director, Lucas County Board of Elections 

Sherry Poland, Director of Elections, Hamilton County Board of Elections 

Michelle Wilcox, Director, Auglaize County Board of Elections 

  • “We already used November’s election money for March,” Wilcox said, referring to the state’s all-mail primary. County officials still could cut spending 20 percent, she said, but “I’m not buying for November yet.” From 47 Primaries, 4 Warning Signs About the 2020 Vote New York Times, June 27, 2020

Tonya Wichman, Elections Director, Defiance County Board of Elections

  • "Now we are facing significant costs associated with the supplies, postage and staffing that were necessary to meet the demand for absentee ballots for the April 28 primary.We’re coordinating with our local board of elections, county commissioners and the state to figure out how to pay for this “new” election, but we know that federal funding will be critical to our ability to hold a general election that’s safe for voters and poll workers and that’s of the quality our democracy depends on. That’s true not only in Defiance County, but in jurisdictions across Ohio and the nation, none of which are immune to the financial crises facing the country right now. Column: Election boards face huge, costly task in November Dispatch, May 22, 2020

Oklahoma

Pam Slater, Assistant Secretary, Oklahoma State Election Board 

  • The required match is why Oklahoma asked for half of the $5.4 million it was entitled to. "We didn't have it," said Pam Slater, assistant secretary of the State Election Board. If the match had been 5%, Slater said, a request for the full amount might have been workable. "Would we have loved to be able to ask for the whole thing?" she said. "Sure, but we were lucky to be able to ask for a portion of it." As Trump and Biden battle, election officials are running out of time, money for November USA Today, July 14, 2020 

Pennsylvania

Kevin S. Barnhardt, Commissioner, Berks County  

  • Barnhardt said paying for additional materials, including PPE and cleaning supplies, would be pricey, enough to financially cripple some counties. “It’s not a budgeted item,” he said. “We didn’t anticipate a virus.”...According to [Barnhardt], changes made to the 2020 primary cost the county an extra $350,000. Although the money was provided through the federal CARES Act, the county only received a total of #388,000. Coronavirus creates costly elections, but Berks officials are hopeful financial help will continue Reading Eagle, July 16, 2020 

Jeff Greenburg, Director, Mercer County Voter Registration and Election Bureau 

Lisa Deeley, Chair, Philadelphia City Commissioners 

Nick Custodio, Deputy Commissioner, Philadelphia City Commissioners 


Tennesse

Jason Booher, Administrator of Elections, Sullivan County  

Julia Bruck, Spokeswoman, Tennessee Secretary of State  


Utah

Ricky Hatch, County Clerk/Auditor, Weber County  

  • “My election team is three full-time employees, and we have 110,000 active registered voters and a population of 260,000. That puts us in the top 10 percent of the largest counties in the nation,” Hatch said. “We anticipate about $1 per voter in additional costs because of the pandemic. We need help with this pandemic and we are begging Congress to let us choose how we use these unique resources. Counties need the assistance directly to make sure it does not get stuck in bureaucratic red tape and is spent well.” Ensuring Safe and Secure Elections in 2020 During a Pandemic R Street, May 6, 2020 

Virginia

Dianna Moorman, Director of Elections, James City County  


Washington 

Kim Wyman, Washington Secretary of State  

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman co-authored an op-ed with U.S. Senator Christopher Coons from Delaware in June. It reads:  “We’re pushing to include more funding and direction in the fourth stimulus package, so states can get the help they need and give every American a safe way to vote this fall…We want to be clear: We are not advocating for a federal takeover of state-run elections. In fact, we’re advocating for the opposite: federal support to help states continue to run their own elections safely and efficiently.” To safeguard our elections, Democrats and Republicans must work together Hill, June 30, 2020 


West Virginia

Kent Carper, Commission President, Kanawha County Commission 

Mac Warner, Virginia Secretary of State  


Wisconsin

Barbara Goeckner, Deputy Clerk, Cambridge County 


Additional Materials

Interview with Pennsylvania's chief election officials: Last Chance to Secure the 2020 Elections, Brennan Center for Justice, July 27, 2020

Video: Election Officials have a message for Congress, Brennan Center for Justice, July 21, 2020 

Interview 3: Considerations for CARES Act Grant Funding Use at the Local Level U.S. Election Assistance Commission, May 21, 2020