WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Election Day is less than three months away, and many local election officials are scrambling to make sure every voter is safe and every vote is counted.
Facing a pandemic and reports of attempted foreign interference, both state and local officials fear they won’t be ready without additional money from Congress for necessary equipment — to protect from COVID-19 and to protect the votes.
“The intelligence community has said countries like Russia, and this time China and Iran, are going to try to interfere,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said.
Warner says Congress has taken steps to protect voting machines from interference, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made protecting the polls a lot harder.
“If you want to make sure you keep your poll workers safe, and you want to keep your voters safe, that’s going to cost more money,” he explained.
Warner says the $400 million Congress appropriated for election officials in the CARES act is almost used up. He says the next round of coronavirus relief needs to include more money to ensure mail-in ballots are also protected.
“The focus ‘ought to be how can we make sure that people who vote by mail, that the post office delivers that mail in a timely fashion,” he said.
“Vote by mail is something that has been going on for a long time,” said Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX).
Hurd says rural areas like his district have relied on mail-in ballots for years, so he says any concern that they aren’t safe is false.
“Vote by mail is very important, and there are steps to ensure that that ballot is connected to an individual,” he said.
Hurd says voters should stay alert and request an absentee ballot as soon as possible.