Biden proposes $15 bln for election funding, including $5 bln for USPS

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WASHINGTON, March 28 (Reuters) - The White House on Monday said it is proposing $15 billion over 10 years in election assistance to states and to support vote-by-mail efforts.

The 2023 budget proposal calls for $10 billion in new assistance to states for election equipment and personnel and to "increase access and security."

President Joe Biden is also proposing $5 billion to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to expand delivery capacity in underserved areas "and support for vote-by-mail, including making ballots postage free and reducing the cost of other election-related mail."

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, voting by mail jumped dramatically, with 46% of votes cast by mail in the November 2020 presidential election, up from 21% in the 2016 election, the USPS Inspector General said.

In the 2020 election, the Postal Service delivered more than 135 million ballots.

In August 2020, then President Donald Trump sparked a firestorm when he said without additional funding from Congress "they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it."

That prompted U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to say Trump’s comments about election mail were “incorrect" and said USPS had adequate funding to handle mailed ballots.

In December, USPS and the NAACP reached a settlement to resolve a 2020 lawsuit over election mail that the Justice Department said would ensure prioritizing delivering ballots in future elections.

USPS agreed for the 2022 mid-term congressional election to take the same extraordinary measures used to deliver ballots in the November 2020 election. The Postal Service also agreed for elections through 2028 to post guidance documents publicly reflecting its "good faith efforts to prioritize monitoring and timely delivery of Election Mail."

Several courts ordered USPS to take extraordinary measures to ensure ballot deliveries, especially since a record number of Americans opted to vote by mail during the pandemic.

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Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Marguerita Choy

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