Response to COVID-19: Elections

By Taylor Lansdale, Program Director, CSG Overseas Voting Initiative


  • COVID-19 has caused significant distress in the elections community.
  • Social distancing rules makes in-person voting a safety concern for both voters and election workers.
  • Polling sites are experiencing shortages of those poll workers, presumably because they are concerned about exposure to the virus.
  • States are taking different steps to overcome COVID-19 concerns:
    • Moving election dates
    • Expanding all-mail voting
    • Some states, such as Wisconsin, calling in National Guard to work polling places

How are States Impacted?

States are impacted both fiscally and in terms of process. For states moving to all-mail voting, this requires a total overhaul of systems and training. All-mail voting requires workers to commit to weeks rather than days of counting ballots. This also requires education of constituents which is costly. These problems are exacerbated by limited time to set up new systems. Technonolgy, the single biggest cost for election officals, is totally different from traditional in person voting to all-mail voting. The ability to aquire this technology quickly enough for the new election dates will be a significant challenge. Learn more from The Washington Post at:

Those states that are continuing with elections as planned are facing pushback from and potential shortages of poll workers. Statistically, the majority of poll workers are older and therefore more at risk when exposed to COVID-19. Learn more from The New York Times at:

Federal Action

Action in the States

Resources for State Leaders: