How Do You Vote During a Pandemic?

Vote Pandemic BELatina Latinx

The urgency of social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic has forced many state governments to reconsider voting protocol during local elections and in preparation for the November election.

While this sounds logical, the risk of voter suppression and the overall threat to the democratic process remains.

We are no longer talking about the urgent need to prevent Donald Trump’s reelection, but about the safety, firstly, of voters’ health, and secondly, of their constitutional rights.

However, announcements such as the New York State Board of Elections’ to cancel the state’s presidential primary forces many to question the post-pandemic political scenario — if such a thing will ever exist.

According to Vox, the elections scheduled for June 23 in New York are the first to be canceled, after commissioners decided that the more than 22,000 deaths from COVID-19 forced this decision to keep social distancing orders in place.

While many states have postponed their elections, New York is the first to simply cancel them, opening up the possibility that the November election may have to be reconsidered.

“Today’s decision by the State of New York Board of Elections is an outrage, a blow to American democracy, and must be overturned by the DNC,” said Bernie Sanders’ campaign senior advisor Jeff Weaver. “Given that the primary is months away, the proper response must be to make the election safe — such as going to all vote-by-mail — rather than eliminating people’s right to vote completely.”

But as could be seen in elections such as Wisconsin’s, the only state so far to force a face-to-face vote and where the April 7 election resulted in “several dozen cases of COVID-19,” Vox continues, the logical decision should be to allow mail-in voting.

Moreover, this could influence the turnout in the election, considering one person in four voted by mail in 2018, according to NPR.

“It’s an increasingly popular form of voting, accounting for nearly 1 in 4 ballots cast in 2018,” the media explains. “Even before the pandemic, more states were expanding absentee and vote-by-mail options as a way of providing voters more flexibility and reducing Election Day polling place lines.”

And if there’s one thing we’ve learned from 2018, it’s that the more people vote, the less chance Republicans have of gaining ground.

That’s why President Donald Trump has campaigned against the absentee voting system, claiming it could have “tremendous potential for voter fraud,” even though there is no evidence of it.

The president even confessed that mail-in voting “doesn’t work out well for Republicans,” during a press conference in the White House.

For their part, Democrats in Congress have launched a new round of negotiations for the next economic package to alleviate the coronavirus crisis where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suggested around $4 billion dedicated to vote-by-mail efforts, according to NBC News.

In an interview on MSNBC’s LIVE with Stephanie Ruhle, Pelosi said that it’s important to protect the “life of our democracy” as the coronavirus crisis continues.

“In this next bill, we will be supporting vote-by-mail in a very important way — we think it’s a health issue at this point,” Pelosi said.