he Coronavirus has completely changed the way we live. And with the death toll in the US representing well over 25% of the world’s total, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now. With the 2020 US election rapidly approaching this is a seriously worrying proposition. With elections under a certain President Trump already a potential conspiracy-fest under normal circumstances, the potential for serious disarray in November is very high.
The Coronavirus Breeding Grounds
In the last election, over 60% of the 136 million Americans who voted did so in person. Under normal circumstances, this is just a routine procedure that can be prepared easily enough.
In the times of Coronavirus, this kind of scenario is a recipe for disaster and tragedy.
As Matthew Peterson a former member of the Federal Election Commission said:
“WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS. IF THE VIRUS IS STILL WIDELY SPREADING THIS FALL, THEN CASTING BALLOTS IN CROWDED POLLING PLACES, OPERATED PRIMARILY BY ELDERLY AND VULNERABLE POLL WORKERS, REALLY CREATES A PERFECT STORM FOR THE VIRUS TO CONTINUE SPREADING.”Matthew Peterson, Former Member of the Federal Election Commission
An answer could be to make other forms of voting easier, but this is a method that could potentially be detrimental to Republican chances of winning.
It would also no doubt offer President Trump plenty of potential conspiracy theories that could be used to content defeat in the event of that happening.
Pitfalls of postal voting in the election
If it was to be widely accepted that making postal voting more accessible across the board, this is still not a silver bullet that will allow the 2020 election to pass by without a hitch.
Postal voting can either be done upon request or automatically in states where ballots are sent out to all registered voters.
Problems can begin to arise if there is any discrepancy between the signature on the ballot and that which links that ballot to the person who is registered to vote. Any discrepancy sees the ballot returned. This can be a lengthy process.
The potential for fraud is also higher. As evidenced by the North Carolina election where it was discovered that Republican operatives improperly collected ballots from voters at their homes, switched their votes, and forged their signatures.
Postal voting also does not eliminate health concerns. Ballots are still completed by hand and stamps need to be licked.
Potential for a postponement in the US Election
If a drastic reversal in the combat against coronavirus is not seen in the summer months, one option may be to postpone the election.
This would be an unprecedented move in the US, although it is one that has happened with the UK’s local elections. China moved a national referendum to October and Bolivia put its presidential election on hold.
The only way this could happen would be in the Republicans and Democrats worked together to make it happen.
It is not something that President Trump could decide unilaterally.
While postponing the election could be the safest option if the Coronavirus is still not under control, many people strongly believe that the election must go ahead at all costs.
CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley had this to say about the possibility of a postponement:
“AT ALL COSTS, THE ELECTION MUST GO ON. THIS IS NOT THE NBA SEASON OR THE OLYMPICS. COME NOVEMBER, WE’VE GOT TO VOTE. IF WE CAN VOTE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CIVIL WAR, AND IF FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT CAN RUN FOR AN UNPRECEDENTED FOURTH TERM IN THE MIDDLE OF WORLD WAR II, THEN WE CAN FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE 2020 A FREE AND FAIR ELECTION.”Douglas Brinkley, CNN Presidential Historian
In times where the Coronavirus has been used by some political leaders to unscrupulously reinforce their holds on power, Brinkley added:
“THE BEATING HEART OF OUR DEMOCRACY IS OUR ELECTIONS. WITHOUT OUR ELECTIONS, WE’RE A TOTALITARIAN NATION. BY HOLDING OUR ELECTIONS IN NOVEMBER, IT’S ACTUALLY SAVING AMERICA.”Douglas Brinkley, CNN Presidential Historian