Voting in the Time of COVID
Prepared by Sally Brown Deskins
Voters standing in line close to each other, handling ballots and using touch screens make for a potentially toxic stew of community transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The current health crisis is creating new issues facing elections. The Bi-Partisan Policy Center outlines the following important topics:
- Election administrators must now consider what that looks like if certain voting locations are unavailable, if fewer poll workers volunteer, and whether the voters can maintain social distance while voting.
- Potentially moving to all vote-by-mail for all voters, and vote by mail rates vary from the low single digits to 100% of a state’s electorate.
- States can only do so much. Voter behavior is not so quick to change. Just saying they will shift to mail may not happen so election administrators need to have a plan for in-person voting options.
As legislators work to ensure fair elections in times of public health emergencies, they may look for policy options. The National Conference of State Legislatures lists each state’s bills regarding elections on their websites, and encourages voters to review your state’s existing election emergency statutes and review provisional ballot laws to ensure your voting runs smoothly.