A voter completes a ballot in the presidential primary election at the Summit View Church of the Nazarene on March 10, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. The polling place served two precincts as voters who were scheduled to vote at a nearby senior living facility were directed to vote at the church after the facility backed out due to coronavirus concerns. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Christian leaders seek $4B for secure voting during pandemic

NEW YORK (AP) — A multidenominational coalition of Christian leaders is calling on Congress to allocate upward of $4 billion in its next coronavirus economic recovery measure to help Americans safely cast their votes in November.

In a letter to lawmakers spearheaded by the Christian social justice group Sojourners, the faith leaders describe voting as “a sacred right and commitment, particularly given our nation’s long struggle to extend the right to vote to every eligible citizen regardless of factors such as race and gender.”

The ongoing public health risk of the coronavirus has raised widespread concerns about whether the nation is adequately prepared to hold in-person voting during this fall’s presidential and congressional elections. Their request aligns with a Democratic push for an expansion of mail-in balloting, which the Christian leaders signing onto Monday’s letter urged that lawmakers make “universally available.”

The faith leaders asked Congress to set aside the money for safe voting in its next coronavirus recovery legislation, the timetable for which remains unclear. Some of the funding should “help recruit and pay for a surge of poll workers who will be desperately needed” given that older people, who often serve in those jobs, are at a higher risk for complications from the virus, the letter’s signatories wrote.

“We are prepared to mobilize our churches in this critical recruitment effort,” the religious leaders wrote, noting that last month’s Wisconsin primary — after which more 50 voters or workers were reported as positive for the virus — is a source of “hard lessons.”

The letter was signed by, among others, National Association of Evangelicals President Walter Kim; Bishop Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, general minister and president of the Disciples of Christ; and the chair of the Conference of National Black Churches, the Rev. W. Franklyn Richardson.
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Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.
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