Senators Collins, Bennet Call on Congressional Leaders to Make CARES Act Election Assistance Grants More Accessible for States

In Bipartisan Letter, Senators Urge Fix to Modify Requirement that States Provide a 20% Match for $400 Million of Election Grants in the CARES Act

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) wrote to congressional leaders urging them to allow the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to waive a requirement that states provide a 20 percent match for the $400 million in election assistance grants included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act if circumstances related to the pandemic prevent them from providing this match.


“State and local election officials nationwide are working heroically to prepare for the 2020 elections amidst an unprecedented public health crisis,” wrote Senators Collins and Bennet.  “Given the unprecedented strain the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on state budgets, the match requirement could mean that several states are unable to take advantage of new election funding at the very moment it is most needed. In this national crisis, we should not ask states to choose between providing critical services and safeguarding our democracy.”


The COVID-19 outbreak has forced state and local election officials to make urgent preparations to ensure that every voter can safely participate in the 2020 election. In response, the CARES Act included $400 million in election assistance grants. Although the CARES Act did not specify a 20 percent match requirement for these grants, the EAC, which administers the grants, confirmed that it can only award funding to states that provide the match, consistent with restrictions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020.


As the COVID-19 pandemic strains state budgets, creating by some estimates a $500 billion hole, the match requirement could mean that several states cannot take advantage of new election funding. In some cases, securing matching funds will require approval by the state legislature, even though many state legislatures have adjourned for the year.  For all of these reasons, secretaries of state from both political parties have called on Congress to revisit the 20 percent match requirement.


Click HERE to read the letter.