By: Brenna Dukes
The 2020 election has been far from the front of most of our minds as the COVID-19 pandemic alters our daily lives and throws public assemblies, like elections, into question. With Bernie Sanders dropping out of the race on April 8 there are now two clear candidates for the general election, Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump. A poll, taken on Zoom, showed that out of 170 Shorecrest students and faculty, 116 (68%) favored Biden and 54 (32%) favored Trump.
The question still looms though, how will there be an election in the midst of a global pandemic? While sixteen states have postponed their primaries, Wisconsin held their primary on April 7. The executive order to postpone the primaries that governor, Tony Evers, issued on Monday, April 6 was struck down by the state’s Supreme Court. The election went on. Without broad mail-in or absentee voting infrastructure in place, in-person voting was still the principal option.
Now, there are fears that Wisconsin’s COVID-19 cases have increased because of contact during in-person voting. According to state health officials, there have been nineteen new cases potentially connected to the election. The mounting fear this is creating will further throw into question what to do about the general election in November.
One possibility would be to expand vote-by-mail and early voting. Expanding vote-by-mail would give many the opportunity to vote without having to choose between democratic participation or their health. While vote-by-mail is an essential step, those without street addresses, people living on tribal lands, and those who need assistance voting cannot easily vote this way. Expanding early voting would also be needed to make sure these groups have guaranteed access to a safe polling place. In order to do this, additional polling places would need to be added and opened for extended hours leading up to election day.
While this issue may not loom on the front of your mind, ensuring people are able to exercise their right to vote is vital. Taking five minutes to make sure you are registered to vote, by going to vote.gov, and reminding your friends to register are two things you can do to make sure you, and your peers, are engaged in our democratic society.