COVID-19 affects voting

Many states delay their primaries, what’s next


Photo courtesy of Kelly Delay

The 2008 Democratic National Convention nominates and confirms former President Barack Obama and former vice president John McCain

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused changes on a national level interfering with the democratic process and raising many concerns. Perhaps the greatest concern is how COVID-19 will impact the 2020 November election. 

President Donald Trump stated in a press conference on April 27 that he has no interest in postponing the date of the presidential election. 

General elections are governed by federal statute which states, “The Tuesday next after the 1st Monday in November, in every even-numbered year, is established as the day for the election, in each of the States and Territories of the United States.”

And while Trump may not have the power to postpone the election, Congress does. The legislative body can change federal law and would have to pass a new law to postpone the 2020 election.

As of April 28, 19 states still have to vote in the primaries, and so far only 15 states and one territory out of 21 have postponed their primaries. This includes Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Puerto Rico. 

Several states conduct all of their elections by using mail-in ballots, such as Washington and Colorado. This gives voters the chance to vote without endangering themselves with large public gatherings. The state of Washington has already conducted their 2020 primaries through the mail and has released precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 through the mail. 

“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to statewide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans,” Trump wrote in a recent tweet

However, Richard Hansen, a professor of election law and political science at UC Irvine stated in an interview with NBC news: “No means of voting is perfect, but the benefits of vote-by-mail, particularly during a pandemic,  greatly exceed the risk of fraud associated with it.” 

The Supreme Court ruled on April 6 to not extend the deadline for voters in Wisconsin that would have given them an extra 6 days to send in their mail-in ballots for the primaries. The date stood for voters to postmark or drop off their ballots by April 7, even though thousands of ballots were still being mailed out of the 1.3 million requested. Voters who had not received their ballots had to make the decision of going to the closest poll location in the middle of a stay-at-home order or not vote at all. 

In a 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent, along with Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor, “The question here is whether tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens can vote safely in the midst of a pandemic. Under the District Court’s order, they would be able to do so. Even if they receive their absentee ballot in the days immediately following election day, they could return it.”

The state health department from Wisconsin released that at least 40 people have tested positive for the virus after either working or voting at the polls. 

The Democratic National Convention has been pushed back from July to Aug. 17-20. At the convention, the party nominates and confirms the Democratic candidates for President and Vice President. 

“We may have to do a virtual convention. The idea of holding the convention is going to be necessary,” Former Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview on This Week ABC. “We may not be able to put 10, 20, 30 thousand people in one place.”