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'We Must Act': Warren Proposes Billions to Fund 2020 Election Protections in Time of Coronavirus

"We must not allow Republicans to exploit the pandemic to engage in voter suppression."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaking at the Heartland Forum in Storm Lake, Iowa on March 31, 2019.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaking at the Heartland Forum in Storm Lake, Iowa on March 31, 2019. (Photo: Lori Shaull/Flickr/cc)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday released a plan to protect U.S. elections from chaos and disease brought on by the coronavirus outbreak that has pushed most states to reschedule their primaries and, if bold action is not taken, could threaten to derail the general election set for November 3.

"We must not allow Republicans to exploit the pandemic to engage in voter suppression," the Massachusetts Democrat wrote in a Medium post announcing the plan.

Mother Jones reporter Ari Berman on Tuesday morning broke the news of the proposal. Warren's plan, Berman wrote, will help to protect the right to hold elected officials accountable at the ballot box. Warren told Berman in an interview that Congress "must immediately pass much-needed reforms and equip states with the funding they need to protect the health and safety of voters, ensure our elections proceed during this pandemic, and secure our electoral institutions for the long haul."

According to Berman:

The proposals would require states to mail a ballot to every registered voter with a prepaid return envelope, as is standing practice in states like Oregon and Washington; outline $4 billion in federal funding to help states transition to universal vote-by-mail before November (10 times what Congress allocated in its first recovery package); and say states should refrain from removing voters from registration rolls unless they can prove the person has moved or died since it will be very difficult for anyone removed to reregister during the outbreak.

The senator's plan comes on the same day Wisconsin is forging ahead with party primaries and state elections that are widely regarded as dangerous. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, warned that allowing the vote to proceed "may very well prove deadly" for Wisconsinites.

As Common Dreams reported, a ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday nullified an effort by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to postpone in-person voting in the state. On Tuesday morning, social media users shared photos and videos of long lines as the state's polling placeshad been severely curtailed.

In her post announcing the voting plan, Warren called on her fellow lawmakers to take action.

"Congress must act to protect our upcoming elections, keep voters and poll workers safe, and safeguard our electoral institutions for the long haul," she added.

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