Underwood-Backed Heroes Act Passes the House; Includes $3.6 Billion to Safeguard U.S. Elections
WASHINGTON—Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation, supported the House passage of the updated Heroes Act, the latest coronavirus relief package to provide urgently needed resources to American families and communities. The legislation includes $3.6 billion in federal grants to assist states with contingency planning, preparation, and secure administration of elections.
“Voting is the foundation of our democracy, so it’s absolutely critical that we uphold this sacred right even in a pandemic. As millions of Americans head to polls or vote from home to make their voices heard, Congress must take immediate action to ensure states can conduct safe and secure elections,” said Underwood. “The resources included in the House-passed Heroes Act will help secure our elections to protect our democracy.”
A fact sheet on the latest coronavirus relief package can be found here.
The Heroes Act includes the following provisions to safeguard federal elections:
- Requires election officials to develop and publish contingency plans for voting during an emergency such as a pandemic;
- Establishes minimum standards for early voting and voting from home to remove common barriers to exercising the right to vote;
- Mandates prepaid postage on all election-related mail to prevent unconstitutional poll taxes;
- Requires online and same-day options for voter registration in every state;
- Improves ballot access on tribal lands and for troops deployed overseas;
- Authorizes federal grants for states to conduct risk-limiting audits to ensure voters can be confident in election results; and
- Provides $3.6 billion in federal funding to help states comply with these standards and cover pandemic-related election expenses such as sanitizing supplies and larger polling places.
In May, Underwood strongly supported the passage of the Heroes Act (H.R. 6800) to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The updated legislation maintains Underwood’s priorities to support our heroes on the frontlines with robust funding for state and local governments; invest in testing, tracing, and treatment; and ensure veterans can receive coronavirus preventative services with no cost sharing or copayments.
As Vice Chair of the Homeland Security Committee and Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation, Underwood has continuously worked to protect the integrity of U.S. elections and strengthen election security. In October 2019, Underwood welcomed the Homeland Security Committee to Gurnee, Illinois for a field hearing on securing Illinois elections. During the hearing, Underwood discussed the importance of securing U.S. elections from foreign interference and assessed the work Illinois is doing to prevent future attempts to access voter information and voting systems. In June, Underwood held a virtual forum with members of the Homeland Security Committee on strengthening election security and integrity during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Underwood is also a member of Task Force Sentry, a bipartisan group of freshman lawmakers working to develop solutions and to protect the U.S. political system from attack by foreign adversaries.