San Jose, Calif. – Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) issued the following statement today as Wisconsin voters were forced to choose between voting and potentially exposing themselves to danger:
“An election that forces voters to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballot is not a free and fair election. Sadly, through no fault of their own, many thousands of voters in Wisconsin are faced with that very choice today.
“It is clear that state and local election officials simply do not have the resources necessary to process a predictable, yet understandably massive surge in requests for vote by mail ballots. Tens of thousands of voters in Wisconsin are unlikely to receive their ballots in time to participate in today’s election, and a last-minute order by the Supreme Court provided them with no relief. As Justice Ginsberg wrote in dissent: ‘Either they will have to brave the polls, endangering their own and others’ safety. Or they will lose their right to vote, through no fault of their own.’
“Congress cannot sit idly by. There is an urgent need to protect the integrity and sanctity of our elections. Moving forward, we must appropriate sufficient funding for state and local election officials to carry out orderly and safe elections. This funding must be free of poorly-conceived and burdensome matching or reporting requirements so that States can quickly access and deploy funding where it is most needed. We also must protect voters and poll workers by providing expanded vote by mail and early voting in order to preserve social distancing and reduce dangerous overcrowding at polling locations. These are commonsense policies, recommended universally by nonpartisan election experts, to ensure all eligible voters can exercise their right to vote without exposing themselves to a deadly virus. There should be no controversy in expeditiously ensuring their adoption across the nation.
“Today’s election in Wisconsin brings into sharp focus the challenges state and local election officials face in administering elections in the midst of a deadly viral pandemic. Article 4, Section 4 of the US Constitution ‘guarantees to every state in this Union a Republican form of government.’ Central to that is the unencumbered right of every citizen to vote. Congress now must act expeditiously, and Constitutionally, to protect and uphold that right for every American.”
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