Voting During a Pandemic
As the Coronavirus continues to spread around the country and the world, government officials are working to determine a solution to voting while trying to contain the spread of the virus.
According to USA Today, Iowa, Michigan, West Virginia, Nevada, and Georgia planned to send out mail-in ballots before the primary election, but many were delayed because of the Coronavirus. Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, 34 states allowed voters to vote by mail with no excuse and in the other 16 states, voters had to provide an excuse as to why they could not vote in person. In those 16 states, the Coronavirus is an accepted excuse for voting in the primary.
Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee have not yet extended their vote by mail regulations.
Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Colorado plan to hold their 2020 elections entirely by mail. California is also attempting to move to an entirely mail-in ballot election for November, but lawsuits are stalling the efforts.
Some state officials believe mail-in ballots will give voters access to voting and protect people’s rights, allowing them to make decisions while preventing them from contracting the virus when waiting in lines. Other state officials believe that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud and change American elections. The dispute is causing lawsuits across the country to address the correct way to hold elections.
According to CNBC, many states have expanded access to vote-by-mail while others are planning more polling stations and a longer polling window to help people social distance and cut down on the number of people in the voting area at one time.
Another concern is that people will not know about the voting changes as there was confusion during recent primary elections.
Due to the virus, voter registration campaigns and locations have been canceled and closed, resulting in a major decrease in voter registration. According to National Public Radio, in January 2020, the number of newly registered voters increased more than five million from 2016 causing experts to believe there would be a huge surge in new voter registration.
According to USA Today, as of April 2020, registration was down 70% from April 2016 in the last presidential election. In order to reach unregistered voters, interest groups are turning to social media and video chats, but the groups do not believe they will reach as many voters as originally thought.
COVID-19 is changing many elements of peoples’ lives and will continue to. Voting in 2020 will be different than any other past election and will change how future elections are conducted and how people can vote.