100+ Civil Rights Organizations Urge Congressional Action on HEROES Act

WASHINGTON – Citing concerns about conducting fair and safe elections in November, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, The Andrew Goodman Foundation, and nearly 100 other civil rights groups called on the Senate to support the election provisions of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (“HEROES”) Act, which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 15, 2020. This critical legislation provides $3.6 billion and voting rights guardrails that are necessary to help state and local governments adequately prepare for the November 2020 elections. 

The $400 million for election assistance appropriated to states in March in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act was an important first step, but the experiences of recent primary elections provide compelling evidence that state and local officials lack the necessary resources to operate elections fairly and safely during the COVID-19 public health crisis,” the group wrote. “In too many states during the primary season, long lines, poll closures, poll worker shortages, and insufficient training, broken machines, and surges in absentee ballot requests that went unfulfilled left many voters – particularly voters of color – unable to safely exercise their fundamental right to vote.” 

In the letter, the groups also urge the Senate to pass policy provisions of the HEROES Act, which would address many of the challenges created by the pandemic and faced by states during the primary process. For example, the HEROES Act would:

  • Require at least 15 consecutive days of in-person early voting in federal elections, with early voting being available at least 10 hours per day and early voting locations being within walking distance of public transportation; 
  • Ensure that every voter can access no-excuse absentee ballots with prepaid postage in all federal elections, prohibit states from requiring notarization or witness signatures to cast an absentee ballot, and during emergencies such as COVID-19 require states to automatically mail absentee ballots to all registered voters not later than two weeks before Election Day; 
  • Expand voter registration opportunities including requiring that any eligible citizen can register to vote online and requiring that any voter be allowed to register to vote on the same day that they vote (same-day voter registration); 
  • Defray the costs to states of undertaking public education campaigns to educate voters about new voting and registration options in the wake of COVID-19; and 
  • Provide accommodations for voters residing on Indian lands, such as permitting tribes to designate buildings as ballot pickup and collection locations. 

If the United States is to continue serving as the world’s beacon of democracy, Congress must take immediate steps to provide states with the resources necessary to conduct fair and safe elections in November. The letter is available here and is signed by the following organizations:

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
20/20 Vision
A. Philip Randolph Institute
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Family Voices
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Andrew Goodman Foundation
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO)
Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation
Brennan Center for Justice
Campaign Legal Center
Center for American Progress
Center for Disability Rights
Center for Law and Social Policy
Center for Media and Democracy
Citizens Against Intolerance
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Clean Elections Texas
Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
Climate Reality Project
Color Of Change
Common Cause
Communications Workers of America
Declaration for American Democracy
Defend Democracy
DemCast USA
Democracy 21
Democracy Initiative
Democracy Matters
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
End Citizens United // Let America Vote Action Fund
Equality California
Fair Elections Center
Family Equality
Feminist Majority Foundation
Fix Democracy First
Free Speech For People
Girls Inc.
Greenpeace USA
Hispanic Federation
Human Rights Campaign
Impact Fund
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Justice for Migrant Women
Justice in Aging
Lambda Legal
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
League of Conservation Voters
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
League of Women Voters of the United States
Lift Our Vote
Mainers for Accountable Leadership
MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund)
March For Our Lives
Missouri Voter Protection Coalition
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF)
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)
National Association of Human Rights Workers
National Association of Social Workers
National Council of Jewish Women
National Disability Rights Network
National Education Association
National Employment Law Project
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Organization of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Redistricting Foundation
National Women’s Law Center
Natural Resources Defense Council
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates
Oxfam America
People For the American Way
PFLAG National
Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Protect Democracy
Public Citizen
Service Employees International Union
Sierra Club
Silver State Equality-Nevada
SPLC Action Fund
Stand Up America
Texas Progressive Action Network
The Arc of the United States
The Democratic Coalition
The Union of Concerned Scientists
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
Tikkun magazine & Network of Spiritual Progressives
Transformative Justice Coalition
Union for Reform Judaism
Voices for Progress
Voting Rights Lab Action
When We All Vote
Workplace Fairness

About The Andrew Goodman Foundation

The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s mission is to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy by training the next generation of leaders, engaging young voters, and challenging restrictive voter suppression laws. The Foundation’s Vote Everywhere program partners with America’s colleges and universities to provide resources, visibility, and mentoring to a national network of student leaders who involve their peers in participatory democracy through long-term voter engagement, public policy, and social justice initiatives. The organization is named after Andrew Goodman, a 20-year old Freedom Summer volunteer, and champion of equality and voting rights who was murdered by the KKK in 1964 while registering African Americans to vote in Mississippi.

About The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit