Hollywood superstar and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has suggested that he would be willing to underwrite the cost of expanding the number of polling centers in the upcoming election, offering states that are crying poverty an opportunity to make voting easier for everybody. The "Governator," who served as a Republican but has repeatedly tangled with U.S. President Donald Trump, implied that states who close polling stations are generally trying to disenfranchise minority voters, and then hiding behind budget shortfalls. If it's really about the budget, Schwarzenegger said, he is happy to use his wealth to help offset those shortfalls.
Schwarzenegger responded to a story from Reuters, which reported that more than 1,000 polling stations in the American South have closed between the 2016 and 2020 U.S. Presidential elections. Schwarzenegger felt like there had to be a better way to handle the issue.
"I've been thinking about this a lot," Schwarzenegger tweeted. "I'm a fanatic about voting. Most people call closing polls voter suppression. Some say it is 'budgetary.' What if I made it easy and solved the budgetary issue? How much would it cost to reopen polling places?"
"This is a serious question," he added. "Is closing polling stations about making it harder for minorities to vote, or is it because of budgets? If you say it’s because of your budget, let’s talk."
Even if he were to do so, some election experts are skeptical that money alone would help to expand the number of polling stations in the United States.
"The big problem is that we don't have poll workers," explained Greg Palast, an investigative journalist and voter suppression expert who co-wrote a comic in 2008 titled Steal Back Your Vote, aimed at helping the wrongly disenfrachised. "Most poll workers, three quarters of all poll workers, are over 60, and so we lose the poll workers. That's why Milwaukee's primary this year went from 180 polling stations to five. They simply didn't have poll workers. It's not a question of not having money to keep polls open, it's a question of not having poll workers, and what we need is to have young, healthy people to say 'I'll do it.'"
Palast told ComicBook.com that someone with the visibility, means, and platform of Schwarzenegger could very well help keep the election more fair and honest, but that since mail-in and absentee voting are going to play a big role in the 2020 Presidential election, it's likely a larger-than-usual number of poll workers will have to work longer than usual.
"It may help if Schwarzenegger says if you agree to work at the polls, I'll give everybody 100 bucks and links to all my films for free or something," Palast joked. "It's going to be a minimum vote counting process, and we're going to need poll workers for two weeks, not for a day and not for a night. So obvious, the issue is, you can pay to keep polls open but that's not in question. The states have the polls, they don't have the poeple. What does it take to get young people to do something?"
The U.S. Election will take place on Tuesday, November 3.