Shaheen & Group of Senators Call on Trump Administration to Help Secure Access to PPE to Conduct November Election Safely During Pandemic

July 23, 2020

(Washington, DC) – This week, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter with a group of Senators, led by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), to Vice President Mike Pence and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor urging them to take immediate action to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and sanitizing supplies for election and poll workers—and voters—ahead of the November 2020 election. 

Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that voters and workers at polling locations practice comprehensive hygiene, disinfecting, sanitizing and physical distancing protocols as well as the use of face coverings. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has faced widespread shortages of PPE. In their letter, the Senators underscore that not enough has been done by the Trump administration to secure sufficient PPE. The letter cites reports from experts that indicate an additional $3.6 billion is necessary to make elections safe this year, and that states and localities without support from the federal government will bear a burden if no action is taken.

“We write to strongly urge you to take immediate action to ensure there is adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and sanitizing supplies for poll workers, election workers, and voters ahead of the November general election. We further urge you work to with state and local election offices to coordinate their access to PPE and sanitizing supplies,” the Senators wrote.

The Senators continued, “It is critical that the Administration take concrete steps now to ensure the safety of election workers and voters in the November election. Elections are the bedrock of our democracy and we must ensure safe elections so that all voters can exercise their constitutional right to cast a ballot.”

The letter was signed by 31 Senators in total and can be read in full here.

Senator Shaheen has worked to ensure Granite Staters and Americans are able to exercise their right to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, Senator Shaheen sent a letter with a group of Senators to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, urging them to include $3.6 billion to help states expand vote-by-mail and early voting in a future COVID-19 relief package. In the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), of which Shaheen helped to negotiate, New Hampshire received $3.26 million for state election assistance. Shaheen has also led calls in the Senate for investment and reforms to prevent attacks on our democracy, which includes introducing legislation that would require presidential campaigns to report foreign interference in U.S. elections. In government funding legislation passed last year, Shaheen strongly pushed for robust election security funding, resulting in Congress allocating $425 million for this purpose. She has also led efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its election interference. Because of her role as a negotiator on Russia sanctions legislation known as “CAATSA” and her efforts to hold Russia accountable for its aggression, Shaheen was sanctioned by the Kremlin in 2017.