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Government & Politics
2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Sen. Sherrod Brown Introduces Bill to Expand Voting Options Amid Coronavirus

photo of people voting
Sen. Brown and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge are among the sponsors of the VoteSafe Act, which they say will make voting safer and more accesible in the face of COVID19.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is co-sponsoring a bill to provide federal funding for this November’s election amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The VoteSafe Act would provide $5 billion in federal funds. Half would be used by states to make it easier for them to offer absentee and early in-person voting.

The other half would be used to expand accessibility to disabled, rural, and Native American voters, and offering things like curbside voting.

Brown says it’s important given the uncertainty around this year's primaries.  And also because there’s no way to know what Election Day will look like given the presence of the coronavirus.

“Whether people will want to stand in line at the polls on Election Day as we normally do. That’s why we prepare ahead of time for every voter getting an absentee ballot application. And for every voter having the option to vote at the Board of Elections -- or several central locations – prior to the election in the month before.”

Ohio’s League of Women Voters is still evaluating this bill. Director Jen Miller says they support providing safety equipment for poll workers.

“I’m really hopeful that we will get funding from the federal level because Ohio desperately needs it, for PPE for poll workers, hand sanitizer, mail sorting equipment, [and] so many various things. We also need the state to act and change some processes to be more accessible, as well, in light of COVID-19.”

Miller says those changes include sending applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters.