Chairperson Lofgren Applauds House Passage of Heroes Act
San Jose, Calif. – Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) issued the following statement today upon passage of the Heroes Act, urgently-needed legislation to address the unprecedented coronavirus health and economic crisis. The bill included elections provisions, authored by Lofgren, which provide $3.6 billion to ensure that elections can be held safely in 2020 through expanded vote by mail and early in-person voting to preserve social distancing and prevent overcrowded polling places:
“This November, the American people will cast their votes to elect a new government. Americans have voted during times of great strife in the past – during the Civil War, in the midst of the Great Depression, in the shadow of World Wars, and in the wake of terrorist attacks. Americans will stand united to vote this November, as well.
“This year, however, we are faced with the unique challenges of a deadly, global viral pandemic which to date has killed more than 80,000 Americans and infected more than one million people in the United States. This emergency has already ground our daily lives and our economy to a halt. While drastic measures put in place have appeared to blunt some of the effects of this pandemic, we nevertheless face the prospect of a resurgence of the coronavirus in the Fall.
“Public health experts agree that we must take steps to mitigate risk of the spread of COVID-19. This includes limiting public exposure to the virus by employing strict social distancing measures. These measures must also apply to the administration of our elections.
“To answer this challenge, the Heroes Act includes important provisions which I have authored to ensure safe and orderly elections in 2020. It appropriates $3.6 billion to assist state and local election officials to put into place much-needed protections for voters and poll workers.
“This includes expanding no-excuse absentee vote by mail for every voter who wishes it, and providing 15 consecutive days of early in-person voting to ensure all who prefer or require to vote in person can do so without being forced to contend with overcrowded and potentially dangerous polling locations on election day. In the event of an emergency declaration, and including the COVID-19 pandemic, the bill provides that every registered voter will be mailed an absentee ballot with prepaid return postage so that they may vote from the safety of their homes.
“The bill also sets important federal standards to ensure the American people know how, when, and where to vote, how to track their ballot, and it provides an opportunity to cure issues that may arise before their ballot is rejected.
“We don’t yet know how conditions related to the coronavirus will impact our elections in November, but we do know that we cannot risk imperiling the lives of countless Americans by being unprepared on election day. The right to vote is an essential element of our democracy and Americans should not have to weigh their rights of citizenship against their own health and safety.
“The Heroes Act, if enacted, will put into place the necessary measures to allow every eligible voter to participate in our elections in a safe and orderly manner. The stakes are too high to fail to act.”
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