Battleground states ‘face risk of serious problems’

WASHINGTON — Key battleground states “face the risk of serious problems” in the Nov. 3 presidential election, House Democrats warned on Wednesday. The warning comes ahead of a House hearing on electoral integrity, and amid worries over how millions will vote across the nation in the midst of the pandemic.

The new report, from the coronavirus subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee, examined election preparedness in Texas, Georgia, Florida and Wisconsin. Florida and Wisconsin, in particular, are crucial to the electoral prospects of President Trump, who may need to win them both to fend off a challenge from Joe Biden, his Democratic rival. 

Democrats, meanwhile, would like nothing more than to make inroads in Texas and Georgia, longtime Republican strongholds where Democratic overtures have been increasingly successful in recent years.

The new report, which was obtained by Yahoo News ahead of its public release, warned of “inadequate polling places and shortages of poll workers.” It also noted that “these risks are exacerbated by state policies restricting mail-in voting and early voting.” Trump has railed against voting by mail as a fraudulent exercise that helps Democrats, though there is no evidence that is true.

Rep. James Clyburn and the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis wrote a report warning that battleground states face a risk of serious electoral problems. (Graeme Jennings/AFP via Getty Images)
Rep. James Clyburn and the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis wrote a report warning that battleground states face a risk of serious electoral problems. (Graeme Jennings/AFP via Getty Images)

The subcommittee is headed by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., a member of the House Democratic leadership, and whose endorsement of Biden was crucial to helping the former vice president secure a victory in the Democratic primary. As head of the coronavirus subcommittee, Clyburn has been an unsparing critic of virtually every part of Trump’s pandemic response, including preparations for the presidential election.

In recent weeks, Clyburn and other Democrats have trained their attention on Trump and the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a longtime Republican operative with no prior experience in the federal bureaucracy. Democrats say DeJoy is trying to make it more difficult to vote by mail in order to help Trump, who could benefit from lower voter turnout. DeJoy, who votes by mail — as do Trump and many top administration officials — has denied subverting postal operations to meet the president’s political needs.

Shortly after the release of the new report, the coronavirus subcommittee is to hold a hearing, “Ensuring a Free, Fair, and Safe Election During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Among those testifying on Wednesday afternoon will be Kerry Washington, the Emmy-nominated star of the hit political TV drama “Scandal.” Her (virtual) presence on Capitol Hill will underscore the widespread concern about voting in what many Americans, including Trump himself, are describing as the most consequential presidential election in the nation’s history.

The report, issued on Wednesday morning, highlights several problems in the four states the coronavirus subcommittee chose to examine. And it calls on governors to take charge on the issue, instead of simply leaving those problems for county-level officials to resolve. 

Texas, Florida and Georgia all became coronavirus hot spots

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