Issue One statement on recent elections and the need for funding for states
In response to reports of widespread election chaos experienced in Georgia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., and other localities this week and last week, Issue One ReFormers Caucus Co-chairs Ambassador Tim Roemer (D-IN) and Congressman Zach Wamp (R-TN) released the following statement:
“We simply cannot tolerate the chaos, unpreparedness, and injustice done to Americans when they cannot vote. When our fellow citizens stand in five-hour lines to vote or never receive their absentee ballot, it should anger every American across the country. This type of election chaos sows doubt in the outcomes of our elections and fosters the belief that our system is corrupt.
“Our country could be headed towards an illegitimate election if states cannot hold safe and secure elections where every eligible voter can participate. The $400 million states received from the CARES Act was a good start, but it’s a fraction of what states need. Congress must wake up and take action now by giving states the resources to get the job done. And the states need to make a clear-eyed assessment of what they need to do to prepare.
“If we fail to be ready, if the results are questionable or unverifiable and thousands of eligible voters are denied their basic right to cast a ballot, it will sow widespread anger, distrust, and disillusionment among American voters about our entire democratic system of government. Acceptance of the outcome and a peaceful transition or maintenance of power are foundational to our process.
“As two former members of Congress, representing over 200 former elected officials from both parties who have seen voting occur at every level of government, we are deeply alarmed. The scenario first played out in this year’s notorious Wisconsin primary is being repeated around the nation: hours-long lines, broken or inadequate machines, closed precincts, a flood of absentee ballot requests unable to be fulfilled or processed, and long-delayed results.
“A perfect storm is brewing that may ravage the electoral landscape come November, deepening the mistrust Americans already have in their government, stoking polarization and division, and further disenfranchising communities of color during this moment of national reckoning about racial justice.
“There are about 100 working days between now and the election. We need congressional action ASAP so states can take the necessary steps to protect the vote, including:
- Acquiring the equipment and putting the systems in place to deal with the deluge of absentee ballot requests, and process them in a timely manner
- Training poll workers outside of the populations put most at risk by COVID-19
- Keeping polling places open to avoid long lines
- Educating the public in each state about their respective voting options, be it absentee ballots, early voting, and/or in-person voting
“Our nation is at a crossroads. We are facing many challenges all at once. We have to safely navigate the coronavirus pandemic and dismantle structural racism, and we must hold peaceful and legitimate elections. We are a great nation. We can do all three in a responsible way.
“If there is widespread chaos this November 3, we could risk a constitutional crisis ensuing on November 4. As patriots, we have to come together now to make funding safe and secure elections a national priority.”