The Sustaining Our Democracy Act would provide significant federal resources to help state 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, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and 12 of their colleagues reintroduced the Sustaining Our Democracy Act. This legislation would provide significant mandatory federal funding over the next decade to help state and local governments support election administration, including resources for training and recruiting nonpartisan poll workers and election officials and for increasing voting access 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 foundational to our democracy,” said Warren. “This legislation provides critical resources to strengthen state and local election infrastructure and ensure all Americans can make their voices heard at the ballot box.”
In addition to Senators Klobuchar and Warren the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Angus King (I-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
The Sustaining Our Democracy Act 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.
State 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 state and local governments from using funds in a way that may diminish the ability of eligible voters to vote.
As Chairwoman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee with oversight over federal elections, Klobuchar has been a national leader in the fight to improve the administration of elections and strengthen access to voting.
In 2021, 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 2022.
Last month, Klobuchar and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-MI) led a letter with 22 of their colleagues that successfully called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prioritize funding for election security through DHS’ existing grant programs.
In September 2022, Klobuchar and Durbin introduced comprehensive legislation to address the rise in threats targeting election workers. The Election Worker Protection Act would provide states with the resources to recruit and train election workers and ensure these workers’ safety, while also instituting federal safeguards to shield election workers from intimidation and threats.
In July 2022, Klobuchar introduced the Register America to Vote Act. This legislation would require every state to create a system to register all eligible citizens to vote when they turn 18 and ensure all eligible voters are covered by automatic registration through motor vehicle agencies.
In June 2022, Klobuchar, Durbin, and 20 of their colleagues urged DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to notify state and local law enforcement of rising threats against election workers.
In June 2022, Klobuchar and former Senate Rules Committee Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) led successful efforts to call on the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to expand the use of federal Help America Vote Act funding to protect election workers and officials against threats. Klobuchar and Blunt had also requested an update from the EAC in April 2022 on its efforts to support state and local election officials with administering the 2022 midterm elections.
In February 2022, Klobuchar successfully urged the Biden administration to prioritize election security funding to improve the administration of federal elections in its Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal. The same month, she and Durbin also called on the Justice Department to take additional action to protect election workers from threats to their safety.