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After pleas, Florida requests federal coronavirus money for election

Florida association of elections supervisors applauds move, saying it’s needed as counties prepare for the 2020 election.

Following public prodding from county elections officials and others, the Florida Secretary of State has requested more than $20 million in federal money to prepare for the 2020 elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Florida Supervisors of Elections, a bipartisan association of the state’s county elections officials, had urged the state for about a month to request the money and make it available as soon as possible as the Sunshine State gears up for the Aug. 18 primary and November general election.

The money is Florida’s share of $400 million in federal aid for elections as part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Related: Florida provides little help to local elections officials on COVID-19 pandemic

Every state is required to make a 20 percent match; in Florida’s case, that’s roughly $4 million.

The state earlier this week said it intended to request the money and had been coordinating with the Gov. Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers on the match requirement.

Florida requested the full amount from the federal government in a letter sent Friday. It was one of the last two states to officially request the money.

Many elections officials in Florida are gearing up for an unprecedented presidential election season, with uncertainty about how the coronavirus could affect voting.

Counties have listed a litany of items they could use the money for, including paying for return postage on mail ballots, deep cleaning of polling places before and after the election, added equipment to handle the increase in mail ballots and plastic glass barriers to protect workers.

Craig Latimer, elections supervisor in Hillsborough County and president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections, thanked the state for taking the step to secure the money.

“Our association looks forward to working with the state over the coming days on the allocation of these funds, and Florida’s Supervisors of Elections stand ready to put them to good use to protect the health and safety of our voters, poll workers, staff and our communities at large,” Latimer said in a statement.

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