The COVID-19 pandemic has created another obstacle in an already complicated election.
BY MATTHEW DORON, ‘23.
The 2020 election has gotten even more complicated. The COVID-19 pandemic has killed over 100,000 people in the United States alone and left millions of others sick, unemployed or homeless. This pandemic has also canceled many public gatherings, from sports to learning in public school buildings. However, there is one event we cannot let a pandemic stop: the election.
Elections in the United States typically consist of hundreds of thousands of people going through enclosed buildings while touching the same pieces of equipment in order to exercise their right to vote. However, several states have implemented a voting system that can be used during a pandemic. Oregon, Utah, Washington, Hawaii and Colorado have conducted all-mail elections for the past several years, automatically sending ballots to registered voters. Recently, numerous states, as well as the District of Columbia, have also begun using this system in their primary elections as a means to prevent an increase in coronavirus cases. Despite these changes, many states require an excuse to request a mail-in ballot and a select few refuse to accept ‘fear of the coronavirus’ as a valid excuse.
So how do we hold this election when states cannot agree on whether or not the coronavirus is a valid excuse for requesting a mail-in ballot? Despite claims from President Trump, the election cannot simply be postponed until a method is agreed upon. It would be extremely difficult to achieve as the Nov. 3 deadline looms and would give very little leeway for voters.
In order to hold this election properly, the United States needs to follow the example of states like Colorado and Nevada and automatically send every registered voter a mail-in ballot. In-person elections would dramatically increase the amount of both coronavirus cases and deaths along with possibly decreasing voter turnout. Voters should not have to risk their lives to vote.
While mail-in elections are the best alternative in the current situation, there are several problems. The United States Postal Service has warned several states that it may not be able to deliver mail-in ballots by the set deadlines, in part due to the massive budget cuts the new postmaster general has implemented. It would also be very difficult for both Indigenous people on reservations and those being evicted to cast a ballot. It would also make Black and Latinx voters more susceptible to voter suppression. However, despite its many flaws, voting by mail is still the best option for the 2020 election. It seems this patchwork system riddled with chaos is our best bet for a safe election.