Will We Work to Promote Democratic Participation During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Issues
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Absentee ballot
Photo by Bill Oxford

The practical challenges of voting amid the coronavirus pandemic has tested our election infrastructure and exposed vulnerabilities in our election system during this spring’s primary elections.

As two prominent experts that have worked in Republican administrations have noted, “The goal of a democracy should be that every eligible voter has the opportunity to participate. This should be a bipartisan goal.” Campaign Legal Center’s (CLC) President, Trevor Potter, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for President George W. Bush, Paul Rosenzweig, made this point in a recent op-ed in The Hill to contrast with messages that have been spread in recent days by prominent public officials.

President Donald Trump has discouraged vote-by-mail for expressly partisan reasons even though a majority of Americans support vote-by-mail options.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released this week found that 72% of all U.S. adults, including 79% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans, support a requirement that states provide mail-in ballots as an option to protect voters in case of a continued spread of coronavirus later this year.

Potter’s and Rosenzweig’s op-ed also highlighted how there is no proof that vote-by-mail would benefit Democrats, as Trump claims, “there is no evidence that helping eligible voters vote safely will aid Democrats.”

Rather, it would promote voter turnout for people of all parties and may even help Republicans, “If anything, polls show that the elderly – those thought to be most vulnerable to the virus – lean right. Deep red states like Utah mail all registered voters ballots and allow them to vote in person if they choose, and it has not had the effect Trump predicts. Instead, it has improved participation.”

Federal law and the U.S. Constitution mandate the date of the general election. We will vote for the president on Nov. 3, and we should be able to promote both public health and a health democracy while doing so.

Read the full text of the op-ed here.

 

Georgia is the 2020 CLC Communications Fellow