Election Process In Chaos Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Photo: Ben Schumin

With containment of the coronavirus becoming a growing concern among public health officials across the US, the election process has been significantly disrupted as states find themselves in a precarious situation to encourage people to vote while avoiding unnecessary human contact. At least 13 states have postponed voting amid uncertainty of how to conduct an election process that does not endanger the health of its own citizens.

State election boards have contingency plans in the case of natural disasters, such as fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes, but in the case of a viral threat that may last weeks or even months, officials have found it nearly impossible to come up with a solution that both encourages people to stay at home but still turn out to vote. Poll workers, many of whom are volunteers, have also suddenly become unavailable as many are reluctant to work in an environment that brings them in close physical contact with multiple people throughout the course of the day.

Besides the presidential nomination race, congressional and local primaries have been thrown into chaos, and the delays have placed increasing pressure on election officials to come up with a way forward. The absentee voting system is unprepared to take on the entire voting base, and a sudden increase in absentee votes would ultimately cripple the existing infrastructure and cause even more issues.