Seven states — Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Maryland, Connecticut, and Indiana — have postponed their presidential primaries. Wyoming canceled its in-person caucuses and urged everyone to vote by mail. In fact, a growing number of people are pointing out that mail-in voting could be the best way to keep voters safe without disrupting turnout this November.
The editorial board of the New York Times called on the federal government yesterday to mandate that every state offer mail-in voting in the general election.
A few states already conduct most or all of their elections through mail-in voting: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Implementing such a system would cost a fraction of what vulnerable touchscreen voting machines cost.
Estimates put the cost of mail-in voting at around $2 billion, but, as the editorial board put it: “It’s a drop in the $1-trillion-plus stimulus bucket Congress is considering right now — and it should be an essential part of any coronavirus response package.” (read more)
But there are a number of factors that need to be considered. First, let’s start with the fact that not every state offers mail-in voting. In states that do offer it, there are a number of communities that lack access to mailing services — like Native American voters.
There are also voters that simply do not want to vote by mail. In that case, polling places and poll workers should have ample resources to clean election equipment and wash their hands.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced legislation that the New York Times is calling for. It would allow voters to mail a ballot at no cost or drop it off at a safe drop-off site. (read more)
Would Trump Try to Postpone the General Election? It’s a growing concern for critics of the president. After Ohio postponed its primary election just hours before polls were supposed to open, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said he was worried about the possibility of the 2020 election being postponed.
“My concern is that in the age of Trump that other governors might think, or that the president might ask, for a delay in the November election based on something, perhaps this, perhaps something else,” Brown told reporters Wednesday.
But it’s worth emphasizing — only Congress has the authority to schedule federal elections. (read more)
Voter ID Bill in Kentucky Moves Forward While Everything Else Closes: The coronavirus has caused thousands of offices to either close or switch to working at home — including driver’s license offices. But voters are going to have to find some way to obtain a photo ID in time for the general election. The bill was sent to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear last week, but even if he vetoes it, and he’s indicated that he will, the Republican-controlled state legislature has the votes to override it. (read more)
Harsh Words From FEC Chair: While their working relationship has already been rocky for some time, Republican FEC chair Caroline Hunter — who became chair just this year — gave a scathing response to Axios after Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat, tweeted in support of mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I hope my colleague will cease misleading the American people about the role of the FEC in American elections, particularly during this unprecedented crisis,” Hunter said. (read more)
Ex-GOP Congressman Sentenced on Campaign Finance Violations: Remember that congressman who vaped during a hearing? Former Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican, was sentenced to 11 months in prison for stealing $250,000 in campaign funds last week. (read the prosecutor’s scathing comments here)
WhoWhatWhy and readers’ picks of the week:
- Election Limbo as Coronavirus Outbreak Upends US Primaries (Seattle Times)
- Coronavirus and Elections: Could the US Vote by Mail in November? (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Lawmakers Could Revisit Voting Bills With Renewed Interest Due to Coronavirus (The Center Square)
- Kemp’s Judicial Election Cancellation Heads to Georgia Appeals Court (The Fulcrum)
- Florida Musters Resources to Combat Ransomware and Protect Data, Elections (Washington Examiner)
- ‘No One Has Ever Seen This’: Coronavirus Rattles California Ballot Campaigns (Politico)