How The Coronavirus Will Impact Our Elections

Avinash Uppuluri, Author

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 COVID-19 has closed schools and offices, weakened the economy, and most importantly claimed many lives around the world. Notwithstanding, this dilemma has come, innovations, novel conceptions, and remarkable ingenuity. New methods are being utilized every day and this can be noticed in the upcoming presidential election. States across the country have postponed or altered their primaries, officials are exploring the possibility of voting by mail, and presidential candidates have made their campaigns virtual.      Presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race on Wednesday, April 8th which solidified the Democratic and Republican nominees. The state’s reactions in the primaries may indicate how future elections take place. Due to the Coronavirus, states that were set to vote throughout March and April re-evaluated when and how their primaries take place. States such as Alaska and Wyoming have chosen to vote by mail. This is to follow the social distancing guidelines, without withholding people of their right to vote. Another solution to this predicament was to merely postpone the election. Ohio had suspended its primary until late April, a deadline that was not inexorable. Ohio also considered the June 2nd date which was when Connecticut and Pennsylvania amidst other states had moved their primaries to, and when New Jersey’s primary elections would have been held. However, Governor Phil Murphy did not believe that date would remain and believed that they would have to delay their primary. While an overwhelming majority of states set to have primaries in April and March moved their elections, Wisconsin, a state that awards 97 complete delegates, still held their primary on April 7th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to postponing the election, the idea of voting by mail has become a plausible solution to this problem. Voting through the mail is an effective way of complying with safety regulations, protecting American’s right to vote, and securely doing all of this. This process is also convenient and may promote voter turnout. However, officials have raised questions about the legitimacy of this process, as it could be more susceptible to voter fraud. Studies have shown that approximately 25% of votes in the 2016 elections involved voting by mail in some way, and reports of fraud were minimal. Oregon has been a prominent state where voting through mail is common, sending out about 100 million ballots since 2000. They have only had 12 incidents of legitimate fraud since then. On the other hand, voting by mail provides more room for misplacing ballots and general confusion due to the voter deadline. While this process has both pros and cons, like any other voting method would, it has and will be talked about if the Coronavirus continues to have an impact, and could potentially replace the current voting system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A more immediate change is the evolution of political campaigns to an entirely virtual platform, as political addresses would be a safety hazard to the people who attend. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign has commenced virtual zoom meets. His campaign selects people to talk to, and he records their conversations to use online. In addition to this, he launched a podcast entitled “Here’s The Deal”. Before dropping out of the race Senator Bernie Sanders had an enormous online platform, which came to his advantage during the Coronavirus.  He even set up a virtual campaign rally online. Sanders also pre-recorded a campaign and aired it on many major online platforms; including Facebook, Periscope, and Twitch, which all allowed many people to tune in. President Trump has also held similar virtual campaign rallies like that of Bernie Sanders. He puts out messages and campaign efforts on his social media page as well. Both Donald Trump, and Joe Biden’s virtual campaign efforts have attracted millions of people, which resulted in widespread media attention.

     The Coronavirus has altered the way we partake in events such as the presidential election, however, there will always be new ideas and ways to fix these problems. Whether it is how campaigns take place, or how voting takes place, constructs like the ones I have presented in this article will be a discussion for years to come. Concepts such as voting by mail and virtual campaign rallies may attract more attention and shape the future of politics. 

Sources

1.SUTTON, SAM. “Murphy: ‘I Would Be Stunned’ If New Jersey Holds Its Primary on June 2.” Politico PRO, 3 Apr. 2020, www.politico.com/states/new-jersey/story/2020/04/03/murphy-i-would-be-stunned-if-new-jersey-holds-its-primary-on-june-2-1271574. Accessed 8 Apr. 2020.

2.“Wisconsin’s Delegate Selection Plan – Democratic Party of Wisconsin.” Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Democratic Party of Wisconsin, 2020, wisdems.org/wisconsins-delegate-selection-plan/. Accessed 8 Apr. 2020.

3. “15 States Have Postponed Their Primaries Because of Coronavirus. Here’s a list.” The New York Times, 2020, www.nytimes.com/article/2020-campaign-primary-calendar-coronavirus.html. Accessed 8 Apr. 2020.

4. LG. “18 Advantages and Disadvantages of Voting by Mail.” Vittana.Org, 2016, vittana.org/18-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-voting-by-mail. Accessed 9 Apr. 2020.

5. JAFFE, ALEXANDRA. “Biden Aims to Connect with Voters One Zoom Call at a Time.” KOMO, KOMO, 9 Apr. 2020, komonews.com/news/coronavirus/biden-aims-to-connect-with-voters-one-zoom-call-at-a-time. Accessed 10 Apr. 2020.

6. Kelly, Makena. “Bernie Sanders Is Pioneering the Virtual Campaign Rally.” The Verge, The Verge, 18 Mar. 2020, www.theverge.com/2020/3/18/21185288/coronavirus-pandemic-bernie-sanders-joe-biden-live-streams-twitch-trihex-campaign-virtual-town-hall. Accessed 10 Apr. 2020.