“Presidential elections are typically prime time for bringing new people into the political process, but the coronavirus pandemic is making voter registration more difficult than ever, prompting concerns that many young Americans and other nonvoters might miss their chance to get onto the rolls before November,” NBC News reports.
“West Virginia is rolling out a plan to send every registered voter in the state an application to vote absentee in upcoming elections as people across the state follow a ‘Stay at Home’ order from the governor amid the COVID-19 outbreak,” WHSV reports.
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“Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Tuesday that all of Georgia’s 6.9 million active voters will be mailed absentee ballot request forms for the May 19 primary, a major push to encourage voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
“The absentee voting effort will allow Georgians to decide on their choices for president and other elected offices from home, without having to visit in-person voting locations where the coronavirus could more easily spread. Early voting and election day precincts will remain open.”
Associated Press: “U.S. elections have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. At least 13 states have postponed voting and more delays are possible as health officials warn that social distancing and other measures to contain the virus might be in place for weeks, if not months.”
“The states that have yet to hold their primaries find themselves in a seemingly impossible situation as they look to balance public health concerns with the need to hold elections. While election officials routinely prepare for natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires, the virus outbreak poses a unique challenge.”
Vox: “The good news is that’s not allowed — or, at least, it’s not allowed unless Congress allows it to happen. A trio of federal laws set Election Day for presidential electors, senators, and US representatives as ‘the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November.’ If Republicans want to change this law, they will need to go through the Democratic House.”
“The 20th Amendment, moreover, provides that ‘the terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January.’ Thus, even if the election were somehow canceled, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s term would still expire as scheduled — although, as explained below, the question of who would succeed them is devilishly complicated.”
“A more realistic threat, as the Nation’s Elie Mystal writes, is that state officials could use the extraordinary powers available to them during a major public health crisis to manipulate who is able to cast a ballot.”
Jon Meacham: “It will be tempting for leaders in those states and others to postpone their primaries. Instead, in this hour of crisis, state officials — understandably scrambling to secure their people — should do all they can to hold their elections as soon as possible. The legitimacy of the eventual Democratic nominee could depend on it.”
“History is on the side of proceeding in times of uncertainty. There’s something in the American character that has long insisted on pressing ahead with democracy’s fundamental task: the casting of ballots and the choosing of leaders. In addition to the Lincoln example, historians know that James Madison was re-elected amid the War of 1812; the midterm elections of 1814 took place not long after the British had invaded Washington; the 1918 balloting occurred despite the ravages of the Spanish flu; 1932 went forward in the face of the Great Depression; and Franklin Roosevelt was re-elected in 1944, during World War II. Even 9/11 delayed the New York City mayoral election only by a matter of weeks.”
“Ohio’s polling places are closed on what was to have been the state’s presidential primary, following an overnight ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court,” the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
“The Ohio Supreme Court effectively allowed the election to be postponed from March 17 in a remarkable early-morning decision.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) proposed postponing the state’s presidential primary, scheduled for tomorrow, for June 2, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
DeWine doesn’t have the power to switch dates on his own but will go to court to argue it’s in the public’s interest.
The Atlantic: “The threat of the coronavirus could—and likely will—compound the issues already plaguing America’s election systems: Coronavirus fears could lead to depressed turnout, longer lines, and general confusion for voters on Election Day.”
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) tweeted that he was turned away from the polling station because he wasn’t on the voter rolls.
Said Lucas: “Even though I’ve voted there for 11 years including for myself four times!”
He added: “If the mayor can get turned away, think about everyone else… We gotta do better!”
“A Florida woman was charged on Thursday after officials said she filled out 10 voter registration forms with false information, at least six of which enrolled Democratic and independent voters in the Republican Party without their consent,” the New York Times reports.
“Dallas County officials are seeking a recount of the March 3 primary results after discovering that an unknown number of ballots were not initially counted,” the Texas Tribune reports.
Dave Levinthal: “The wealthiest presidential candidate in history skated through his short and wild campaign without ever publicly revealing his assets — as federal law mandates.”
“Coronavirus is throwing a small wrinkle into Washington’s primary,” Fox 13 reports.
“In an effort to stave off the spread of the virus, the Secretary of State’s office doesn’t want voters to lick their ballots to seal primary election envelopes. Officials with the Washington Secretary of State’s office said voters should use a sponge to moisten their ballot envelopes instead.”
Chris Riback talks to law professor Rick Hasen, author of the new book Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy.
A new AP-NORC poll finds considerable skepticism about the democratic process in the United States.
“While a third of Americans say they have high confidence in an accurate count, roughly another third are only moderately confident and a remaining third say they have little confidence.”