As we all should be aware, there is a global pandemic running rapid in 2020. As of September 8, 2020, there were 22,292 new cases reported. Even though that report has been the lowest number of new cases in the country since mid-June, it is still a significant rise in the number of cases reported. As we should also be aware, there is also the presidential election going on this year. As election day approaches, there has been a lot of questions and valid concerns as to how COVID-19 will affect how the people of America vote.
One concern is the safety of polling locations. For the past five months or so, there have been hundreds of safety protocols put in place by the CDC, the national government as well as local governments in order to try and keep the virus from spreading and keeping people safe. One of the more advertised protocols is social distancing. According to the CDC, in order to properly practice social distancing, you must "stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms' length) from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces." This means that at the polls, you will have to be at least six feet apart from each other.
It is already hard enough to get people out to the polls to vote. A part of why people already didn't want to go to the polls is that they didn't want to stand in the lines and wait. Even though the lines, most likely, won't have any more people than any normal election year, they will look extremely long. Having to socially distance people will turn people off from going to the polls, but it needs to be done. We can't ignore the global pandemic going on just to get more people to vote at the polls.
Aside from voters not wanting to go to the polls for convenience, many will not want to go out of safety concerns. Older voters and those with other health issues that cannot risk contracting the virus will definitely hinder voter turnout at the polls. This concern also goes for poll commissioners. Most voting sites are run by voting commissioners that are older in age. This is largely due to the fact that for Tuesday elections, most people are not able to take off of work or school an entire day or are not willing to contribute 15 hours of their day. The poll commissioner population is mostly people over the age of 60 who are able and willing to spend the day running polling sites. There is a national shortage of poll commissioners going on right now in 2020 because of COVID-19. If you are interested in becoming a poll commissioner you can apply here.
The 2020 presidential voting process will look a lot different in person. Safety protocols will be put in place at voting sites such as social distancing markers to make sure voters stay six feet apart, mask mandates, and disinfecting the voting machines periodically, if not after every voter. A lot of people are choosing to participate via mail-in ballots for convenience or safety reasons, but that raises other concerns.
Earlier this year, a voter registration application was sent to Cody Tims, an 18-year-old cat who dies 12 years ago. The Secretary of State's Office claimed that it did not come from them, but a third-party group pushing for anyone eligible to register to vote. While this was a comical instance, it still raises concerns about mail-in ballots. Would it have been possible for Cody Tims the cat to vote? How easy is it to have fake voters send in their ballot?
In true 2020 fashion, this presidential election will be one like we have never experienced before. Encouraging people to register and go vote is more important than ever right now. With so many people afraid to go to the polls, it is still important for them to register and consider mail-in ballots. If you still need to register to vote, the deadline to register in person or by mail is October 5, 2020; the deadline to register online is October 13, 2020; and the deadline to request a ballot by mail is October 20, 2020.