Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) released the following statement after joining House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC), Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), and Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) as an original cosponsor of the VoteSafe Act, legislation to expand voting options and improve the safety and accessibility of polling places across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic changes so many aspects of our lives, it is vital that we not allow it to limit our sacred and fundamental access to the ballot box, especially for communities that have experienced voter suppression and systematic disenfranchisement long before this crisis,” said Hastings. “This legislation provides critical resources for states and localities to prepare now, so that together we can protect a safe and secure process for Floridians and all Americans to cast their ballots.”
The VoteSafe Act would:
• Require states to provide no-excuse mail-in absentee voting for the 2020 elections and guarantee minimum due process protections for these voters;
• Require states to maintain an early in-person voting period of at least 20 days for the 2020 elections;
• Authorize $2.5 billion for states to meet their obligations to offer no-excuse absentee voting and early in-person voting; and
• Provide $2.5 billion in additional discretionary grant funding for states to further improve the safety and accessibility of voting options during the pandemic, including: Ensuring that elections are accessible to individuals with disabilities; Ensuring adequate protections for language minority voters; Ensuring voting access for American Indian, Alaska native, and rural voters; Implementing and promoting curbside voting; Implementing and meeting a maximum wait time standard or publishing current wait times for voters; Providing for the training and recruitment of poll workers; Improving access to voter registration.
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Dean and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.