The CARES Act federal stimulus included $400 million in new Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding to help states prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 in the upcoming 2020 election. With a 20 percent contribution of state funding, states are eligible to receive 80 percent matching funds from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Florida is eligible to receive $20,152,160 in federal election assistance, with just $4,030,432 in state funding. 48 states and territories have already applied for funding, and Florida is one of just six states that has declined or not yet applied for funding. With public health experts recommending an increase in voting by mail due to COVID-19, the funding could be used to bolster Florida’s vote by mail infrastructure.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, an independently elected member of the Florida Cabinet, requested today that the Governor work to secure this funding. Commissioner Fried offered the following statement:
“While COVID-19 has upended so many aspects of American life, time continues on, and so do the elections upon which our great democracy rests. Protecting our elections from threats both foreign and domestic has never been more important. With COVID-19 continuing to spread, the ability of Floridians to exercise their right to vote is clearly threatened. I am requesting that the Governor take action immediately to secure the $20 million available to Florida, and use these funds to expand voting by mail that will provide a safer election this fall, especially for our most vulnerable Floridians.
Commissioner Fried has been a proponent of increased access to voting; as a member of Florida’s Clemency Board, she has called for the automatic restoration of voting rights for ex-felons, and for clearing the backlog of more than 10,000 applicants for restored voting rights.