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Wyman calls for appropriation of emergency funds for 2020 elections

With the COVID-19 pandemic and its concomitant social distancing measures wearing on, Secretary of State Kim Wyman wrote a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee and legislative leaders requesting that a 20 percent match of funds be appropriated so Washington can obtain election grant funding allocated to states in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The CARES Act allocates $400 million in election grants to help states prepare for the 2020 elections. In the letter, Wyman asks leaders to provide a $1.7 million match so Washington can obtain $8.3 million to help county election officials prepare for the August primary and November general election.

We have a duty to hold every election we conduct to the same principles, ensuring elections are accessible, secure, fair, and accurate. As I have previously explained, this pandemic seriously impinges on election officials’ ability to maintain these essential standards,” wrote Wyman. “Unlike the April election in which 1.1% of our voters will be eligible to participate, the August and November elections will affect each of Washington’s 4.5 million voters. It is imperative we act now to prepare.” 

The Washington State Constitution sets out a general election date for those elected to Washington’s executive, legislative, and judicial offices as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. 

The August primary must be conducted to determine who will appear on the general election ballot. In Washington State, neither of these constitutional provisions can be changed without a vote of the people, therefore the election must be held. 

Federal law mandates that Election Day for presidential electors, senators, and US representatives must also take place “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November.” Changes to this law would only take effect if they passed in Congress.

Furthermore, the 20th amendment stipulates that “the terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January.” This means that President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s terms would still expire, regardless of whether an election took place.

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