The coronavirus outbreak that has forced Americans to retreat to their homes and brought the economy to a standstill also threatens to upend the presidential election. Multiple states have rescheduled their spring primaries as the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 keeps climbing. Some polling places in states that held primaries on March 17 were hastily closed; at others, workers scrambled to disinfect voting machines and keep people 6 feet apart in line. Voters were encouraged by officials to avoid the health risks of in-person voting entirely—by casting their ballots by mail.
The pandemic has prompted new attempts to expand mail-in voting, a trend that has been slowly building over the last two decades. A bill introduced on March 18 by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden—the first U.S. senator elected in a statewide mail-in election—and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar would require states to allow mail-in and early voting during a pandemic or natural disaster and would provide funding for the cost of ballots and postage, among other things. The stimulus bill passed on March 25 includes $400 million for states to allow vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration, and hire more workers, but it doesn’t include a mandate.
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March 30 - April 06, 2020