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The Democrats' new relief bill includes money to cover vote-by-mail costs as well as bolster the cash-strapped Postal Service.

House Democrats include $3.6 billion for elections in new stimulus

House Democrats unveiled a sweeping new stimulus package Tuesday that would give states another $3.6 billion in election aid, to help make voting for president easier and safer no matter what the state of the coronavirus pandemic this fall.

The $3 trillion bill would be the most expensive economic recovery measure in American history. But its passage, probably along entirely party lines as soon as Friday, will set up a significant clash with the Republicans in charge of the Senate, who say another round of emergency aid is not yet warranted.

As a result, the fate of the new money to expand vote-by-mail, in-person early voting and other election accommodations remains totally up in the air — and advocates for the most generous federal assistance possible say the time is getting short to be able to spend the money in time to do maximum good.

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All six states require an excuse for voting by mail, which could produce lines at the polls similar to Wisconsin's this month.

The 6 toughest states for voting during the pandemic

The coronavirus has forced a fundamental reassessment of how best to allow citizens to both stay safe and carry out their most important civic responsibility — voting.

Almost half the states have already eased restrictions that would make it tougher to cast a ballot during the pandemic, and more may do so soon. But at the same time, six states now stand out as having the most restrictive voting rules in the country. And those hurdles will either disenfranchise or threaten the health of millions this year, assuming critical adjustments are not made soon and Covid-19 continues to upend normal life until fall.

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Ohio voters will face single ballot question on expanded voting

In a victory for election reformers, the Ohio Supreme Court has decided a package of proposed election changes in how the state votes should be put to voters as a single measure.

The court on Tuesday agreed with the organization promoting the referendum and blocked Secretary of State Frank LaRose and other Republican state officials from dividing the proposed constitutional amendment into four ballot questions.

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Congress
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Flood of 'spend more on elections' missives in congressional mailboxes

Advocates for making voting safer and easier this year are showering Congress with appeals for help in the next coronavirus response package.

The flow of letters, e-mail and appeals posted online has accelerated in recent days, as lawmakers have started haggling over a fourth aid package since the pandemic took hold. But any decisions have now been delayed at least two weeks, as the Senate on Tuesday joined the House in postponing lawmakers' earliest return until the week of May 4.

The missives have much in common: They are signed mainly by progressive groups, augmented by a handful of cross-partisan good governance organizations. They focus on getting more money for expanding mail-in voting, early in-person voting, online registration and other steps to protect the electorate and election workers from the virus. And they stop short of calling for federal requirements for states spending the aid.

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