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
- 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: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/03/vote-by-mail-difficulties/
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: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/us/politics/wisconsin-election-coronavirus.html
- The Election Assistance Commission allows states to use money initially allotted for cybersecurity to be used for covid-mitigation.
Action in the States
- 16 states/territories have moved their primaries
or switched to vote by mail:
- Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Wyoming, Texas and Puerto Rico.
- Wisconsin has called up its National Guard to act as poll workers. Learn more:
- Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman ask for billions of dollars in election assistance. Learn more:
Resources for State Leaders:
- Defending Democracy Program The 2020 U.S. Elections: Readying for the Challenges
- EAC Compiled List of Resources for States