Polling officials warn they will run out of money before election as Trump holds up funding

Election funding has become a sticking point between Democrats and Republicans in negotiations over a coronavirus stimulus bill 

Richard Hall
Thursday 13 August 2020 16:35
Some Republicans are still insisting without evidence that voting by mail favours Democrats
Some Republicans are still insisting without evidence that voting by mail favours Democrats

Election officials in the United States have warned they need extra funding to be able to handle the 2020 election.

State and local officials told CNN that the pressures placed on voting by the coronavirus pandemic has stretched already thin budgets. They called for extra funding from Congress to prepare for polling season.

"There are enough things to worry about with this election. The last thing we should worry about is will we be able to pay for it," Gerry Pelissero, the county clerk for Gogebic County, Michigan, told CNN.

Experts have estimated that it will cost $4bn to make the changes necessary, which include the hiring of more poll workers, protective equipment for those workers and other changes to deal with an increase in mail-in ballots.

Negotiations over election funding have become a sticking point between Democrats and Republicans in recent months.

The Democrat-held House passed a bill in May that allocated $3.6bn to fund the election, but Senate Republicans have not included any money for elections in their own bill.

Donald Trump said he has resisted the calls for extra money to prepare for the elections because he wants to stop what he described as “universal mail-in voting.” No such measure has been proposed, but the president has increasingly and falsely claimed that mail-in voting — a method which is expected to be used by record numbers this year to protect against the coronavirus — is vulnerable to fraud.

"The items are the post office and the $3.5 billion for mail-in voting," Mr Trump told Fox Business Network, saying Democrats want to give the post office $25 billion. "If we don't make the deal, that means they can't have the money, that means they can't have universal mail-in voting. It just can't happen."

Democrats have cried foul, accusing Mr Trump and his party of trying to make it harder for Americans to vote, as opinion polls show him trailing his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Election officials said the money they have for the election would soon run out.

"The bottom line is this election is going to cost dramatically more," Terry Burton, the director of Ohio's Wood County Board of Elections, told CNN. "The preparations involved, the personal protective equipment, the postage costs, the amount of staffing to accommodate all the different aspects of running an election during a pandemic is going to dramatically increase the cost of elections all over Ohio and across the country."

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