As health experts criticize the lack of safety at physical polling booths, the former First Lady is fighting to expand the option to vote by mail across America.
As the United States continues to grapple with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, many are left wondering about what will happen to the upcoming 2020 Presidential elections. During the primaries, both President Donald Trump as well as Democratic Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden encouraged voters to visit physical voting booths in their constituencies. This, medical experts have affirmed, is incredibly unsafe and hastens the spread of the deadly virus. In order to combat the issue, many have pushed for states to ensure the option to vote by mail. The newest proponent of this is former first lady Michelle Obama, who announced her push for vote-by-mail just as leading health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci claimed he could not guarantee if it will be safe to physically vote at polls in November.
Dr. Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated in an interview on Sunday that he "can’t guarantee" the safety of voters who visit physical polling booths this November, Fox News reports. When CNN's Jake Tapper asked if it would be safe for American citizens to head out to vote later on in the year, the country's leading expert on COVID-19 simply responded, "I hope so, Jake. I can’t guarantee it." Health professionals and political consultants, however, have argued that it would be disastrous to allow voters to visit physical polling booths. James Carville, the Democrat political consultant, for instance, said Republicans would "literally kill people to stay in power" if they could.
Therefore, those concerned about the health and safety of American voters have urged states to institute the option to vote by mail. While President Trump has registered his criticism of the process, others argue that there is no safer method through which to hold the upcoming Presidential elections. Of course, voting by mail does have its drawbacks; in Wisconsin for example, three large bins of mail-in ballots were left uncounted, calling into question the efficiency of the United States Postal Service. More importantly, Wisconsin must now answer whether their primary elections were truly fair and free.
Despite these handicaps, however, former first lady Michelle Obama announced a new attempt to make voting by mail and registering to vote online easier and faster. She also revealed she would push to expand early voting, The Guardian reports. "We know that barriers to voting existed before this crisis, especially for young people and communities of color," she affirmed in a statement. "Expanding access to vote-by-mail, online voter registration, and early voting are critical steps for this moment – and they’re long overdue. There is nothing partisan about striving to live up to the promise of our country; making the democracy we all cherish more accessible; and protecting our neighbors, friends, and loved ones as they participate in this cornerstone of American life."
The move comes through Obama's voter participation group When We All Vote, which she established in 2018. The organization has pledged its support for the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020, a piece of federal legislation that "represents a commonsense solution to ensuring the 2020 elections and future elections are resilient to emergencies, including natural disasters and pandemics." Among other measures, the legislation will guarantee that all voter registration applications submitted by mail or online (up until and 21 days prior to Election Day) are deemed valid, require states to offer downloadable and printable absentee ballots to all voters (not just those overseas or in the military), and allocate funds to ensure states and the Election Assistance Commission are able to conduct free and fair elections. While the state of the November elections may be uncertain, one thing is for sure: our country's true leaders are still fighting the good fight to make sure everyone can exercise their lawful right to vote.