Sen. Myrie + AM Lavine Call on Congress to Eliminate 20% Match for State Election Funds
The CARES Act requires NY to pay 4M for 20M in federal $ for elections
NEW YORK, NY (04/23/2020) (readMedia)-- Today, State Senate Elections Chair Zellnor Myrie and State Assembly Elections Chair Charles Lavine issued a letter to the New York Congressional Delegation calling on them to eliminate the 20% match requirement so New York can access the $20 million specifically ear-marked for elections. States have until the end of the month to file for their allocated funds from the CARES Act.
"New York is the current epicenter of the pandemic. Every available tax dollar should be marshaled to support our public health system and social safety net. We simply do not have the luxury or the ability, like many states, to allocate $4 million in state funding to access the federal dollars."
READ the full letter attached and below.
Right now, New York state is set to receive $20.4 million. However, New York Boards of Election (BOEs) will only receive the money if the state commits to funding 20% (around $4 Million). New York currently faces a $15 Billion deficit. Money from the CARES act would go towards protecting poll workers and voters, expanded absentee balloting, among other COVID-19 related election requirements.
Dear New York Congressional Delegation,
As the coronavirus continues to rage from the North Country to Long Island, New Yorkers need to know all levels of government are doing everything we can to keep them healthy and safe. Hard decisions have been made to flatten the curve but have come at a hefty price- hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and heavily restricted mobility for the foreseeable future. Now, we, as chairs of our respective house's elections committee, are prepared to make the easier, and morally right, decision to protect voters and secure our elections by utilizing the CARES Act election funds.
As we recently saw in Wisconsin, when chaos reigned and the election was held in wildly unsafe circumstances, voters were literally jeopardizing their lives in pursuit of their civic duty. New York must avoid a similar fate by tapping into the $20.4 million, which we are grateful was allocated, for COVID-19 related expenditures during the 2020 election cycle.
However, New York is at risk of forgoing the federal funds due to the US Election Assistance Commission's interpretation of the law so as to require a 20% match in state funding. We are writing to request that Congress act now to eliminate the 20% match, so states can use these urgently needed funds. Election administrators across the state are doing their part and scrambling to protect not only New Yorkers' health but the health of our democracy as well.
We are also running out of time for Congress to act. States must submit their plans by the end of the month in order to secure their allotment of the CARES Act allocation. New York is the current epicenter of the pandemic. Every available tax dollar should be marshaled to support our public health system and social safety net. We simply do not have the luxury or the ability, like many states, to allocate $4 million in state funding to access the federal dollars. CARES Act funding will go a long way and can be used to:
Protect poll workers: In order to minimize any potential exposure, staff will need hand sanitizer, masks, and other protective equipment.
Protect voters: Voting booths, voting machines and will need to be continually sanitized throughout the voting period to minimize risk.
Maintain the integrity of our elections: No voter should ever feel unsafe when exercising their right to vote and should have full confidence that, no matter how they choose to vote, their ballot will be counted.
We applaud your successful efforts to provide election funding in the CARES Act. We call on you to act quickly to eliminate the outlined fiscal roadblocks to holding safe and secure elections during a global pandemic. We appreciate your efforts to protect our elections and stand ready to help in any way we can.
Senator Zellnor Myrie
Chairman, Senate Committee on Elections
Assemblymember Charles D. Lavine
Chair, Assembly Committee on Election Law