The Sustaining Our Democracy Act would provide significant federal resources to help states and local governments support election administration, including training poll workers and increasing access to early voting and voting by mail
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee with oversight over federal elections, and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led nine of their colleagues in introducing the Sustaining Our Democracy Act. This legislation would provide $20 billion in mandatory federal funding over the next decade to help states and local governments support election administration, including by training and recruiting nonpartisan poll workers and election officials and increasing access to voting in underserved communities.
“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, but in recent years we have seen a barrage of threats seeking to undermine our elections. It is critical that we respond to these threats head-on by ensuring that state and local governments have the resources needed to strengthen the administration of our elections, protect election officials on the frontlines, and provide all eligible voters with the opportunity to make their voices heard,” said Klobuchar. “From training more election workers to expanding polling places to making it easier for voters to cast ballots early and by mail, this legislation helps provide state and local governments with the funding they need to effectively administer elections and eliminate barriers to voting. I’ll keep fighting to make our democracy work for every American.”
“Voting is the beating heart of our democracy, and we must ensure that states have the resources they need to conduct fair and robust elections. I’ve been calling on the federal government to allocate $20 billion in election funding for states and localities for years. I’m glad to partner with Senator Klobuchar on this effort — this bill is a critical step towards empowering Americans to participate in the democratic process,” said Warren.
The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Angus King (I-ME), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
This legislation would provide funding to:
- Improve efficiency in the administration of federal elections;
- Secure election infrastructure, including upgrading voting equipment and voter registration systems, expanding voter registration and nonpartisan voter outreach activities, securing voting locations, expanding polling places and the availability of early and mail voting, and promoting cybersecurity;
- Recruit, train, and retain nonpartisan election officials and poll workers;
- Protect election officials from threats against them in the course of their work administering Federal elections; and
- Increase access to voting in federal elections for underserved communities, voters with disabilities, racial and language minority groups, military and overseas voters, and voters residing in Indian lands.
States and certain local governments would be required to submit a plan for approval in order to receive the allocated funds, detailing how the state intends to distribute resources and carry out election activities. The legislation would also prevent states from using funds in a way that may diminish the ability of eligible voters to vote.
As Chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, Klobuchar has been a national leader in the fight to improve the administration of elections and strengthen access to voting. Last week, she led Warren, Smith, Feinstein, Wyden, Merkley, Padilla, and other colleagues in urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to help state and local governments effectively use grant funding to improve election security.
In March, Klobuchar also successfully urged the Biden administration to prioritize election security funding to improve the administration of federal elections in its Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal.
Klobuchar and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) also called on the Justice Department to take additional action to protect election workers from threats to their safety. In October, she and Durbin led 19 of their colleagues, including Merkley, Feinstein, Wyden, Padilla, and Warren, in a letter seeking an update from the Department of Justice on the actions of the Department’s Election Threats Task Force. The Task Force was created last July to receive and assess reports of threats against election workers.
Last fall, Klobuchar introduced the Freedom to Vote Act, which would set basic national standards to make sure all Americans can cast their ballots in the way that works best for them, regardless of what zip code they live in, including by improving voting access, expanding early-in person voting and voting by mail, and modernizing election systems. All Senate Democrats cosponsored this legislation and voted to advance the bill in January.
Last August, Klobuchar, Padilla, Merkley, and Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) introduced legislation to prevent election subversion and protect election administrators.