TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Democratic lawmakers called on Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday to accept a $ 20 million federal CARES Act grant to improve Florida’s election infrastructure during the coronavirus pandemic, citing the potential for unprecedented voting challenges in America’s preeminent swing -state.
Florida is one of only six states that have not formally applied for their share of the $ 400 million election security fund.
Here are five questions that are asked and answered regarding the purpose of the grant, whether it is actually needed and what critics predict will happen if the funds are not formally applied for:
1. What exactly is the purpose of the subsidy?
Funding can be used to help provincial election supervisors sanitize polling stations, hire polling stations, pay for postal stamps, and extend personal voting times, among others.
2. Is the financing necessary?
Many regulators anticipate an increase in the number of votes by mail before the general elections in August and November and have warned of cost-intensive shipping and handling requirements.
In addition, some regulators may be forced to move polling stations from places such as retirement centers to more expensive locations to minimize exposure of older residents to the virus. And as seniors who have been serving as pollsters who are considering sitting out the 2020 elections for years to protect their health, regulators can pay the bill for hiring and replacing training.
3. Why has the governor not applied for a grant?
DeSantis administration officials have pointed to a string attached to the grant – the requirement that the state provide $ 4 million to matching funds – as the reason for the governor’s lack of action.
Because the matching money may represent a new credit, it may be necessary for state legislators to approve – collectively, as part of a special legislative session or through the smaller Legislative Budget Committee.
4. What do democratic legislators say?
At a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Democrats – including State Senator Gary Farmer (D-Lighthouse Point), Rep. Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando) and U.S. Representatives Donna Shalala (D-Coral Gables) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) – suggested that Governor thinking is less guided by litigation issues and more by political considerations. In particular, DeSantis ally in the White House, President Trump, has warned that extending voting by mail could lead to election fraud.
5. What do they predict will happen if the state does not accept funding?
Representative Wasserman Schultz told reporters that bypassing the funds could have public health implications.
“What’s going to happen is that people are going to vote, too, and we won’t have enough resources to protect people who do, and more people will get sick,” she said. “So, if Ron DeSantis wants that to happen, that extra sickness and death will be on his hands.”