The USRESIST NEWS Presidential Campaign Update is intended to keep our readers informed about important ongoing events and activities related to the November presidential election contest between Joe Biden (Democrat) and Donald J Trump (Republican)
Voters today are stuck between exercising their constitutional right or protecting their health as states rush to implement mail voting systems. A partisan divide on expanding voting access for the remaining primaries serves as a glimpse for what to expect when the general election rolls around in November. Until then, court rulings and legislative changes are to be expected as the current public health crisis continues to expose partisan clashes over conducting elections.
Although the general election may seem distant, election experts claim that for mail voting to be effective in November, states will have to make commitments in the coming weeks to prepare to handle an influx of absentee ballots. This will require logistical changes along with an influx of cash for vote counting equipment, printing ballots, and hiring workers. The biggest expense will be postage.
The Brennan Center for Justice has estimated that if mail voting was implemented nationwide, it would cost between $928 million and $1.4 billion. The reality is that most states are not currently equipped with resources to easily conduct mail elections with the present laws in place. The Wisconsin primary exposed how easily election staff can become overwhelmed by absentee ballot requests, with many voters never receiving theirs in the mail.
Voting remains a partisan issue, with President Trump and the Republican party making a case against voting by mail. More than half of Republicans worry about voter fraud if elections were solely by mail, compared to only 29% of Democrats. Studies show that mail voting does not give either party an advantage, nor does it increase voter fraud. A poll from AP- NORC found that 47% of Democrats support their state conducting elections exclusively by mail, compared to 29% of Republicans.
In New Mexico, a state Supreme Court judge rejected a democratic push to send absentee ballots to voters ahead of the June 2 primary and ruled in favor of Republicans, forcing the state to open polling places. In South Carolina, the NAACP and ACLU filed a lawsuit seeking to allow no fault absentee voting before their June 9 primary. A previous court decision in Texas, that would allow voters to use coronavirus as an excuse to cast an absentee ballot, could be appealed by Republicans.
Several states have adjusted their voting structures to expand access amidst social distancing and stay at home orders. After previously delaying its primary election to June 23, New York Democrats cancelled their primary as the state remains an epicenter of the pandemic. All New Yorkers will be mailed an absentee ballot request form, when previously voters needed an excuse. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed new legislation establishing Election Day as a holiday, removing a photo ID requirement to cast a ballot and expanding no excuse early voting to 45 days prior to an election.
The pandemic has created an opportunity to change how things are done, in hopes of creating a better system for everyone. A poll found that 58% of Americans support permanently changing election laws to allow everyone to vote by mail. Even the CDC has publicly endorsed voting by mail during the current public health crisis.
President Trump’s management of the coronavirus crisis has dropped his approval rating by ten points in the past month, down to 39% approval. As many accuse the President of not adequately responding to the threat of the virus in time, he has sought to reshape that narrative during his daily news conferences. Many are now questioning if the briefings are causing more harm than good as he delivers inaccurately dangerous health information to millions of Americans.
The presumptive democratic nominee, Joe Biden, has received another two high profile endorsements- Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. Despite Biden’s sexual assault allegations from 27 years ago hovering over his campaign, key democratic female politicians have expressed their solidarity with him. His search for a running mate continues as half a dozen democratic women in the Senate are considered, including Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, and Stacey Abrams. He remains with a wide lead over President Trump with 18-29-year olds likely to vote: 60% to 30%.
- When We All Vote– a nonpartisan organization committed to voter registration.
- Brennan Center for Justice– an advocacy group that supports expanded mail voting as one way to insulate elections from the effects of the pandemic.
- ACLU– a nonprofit organization fighting voter suppression and promoting access to the ballot.