Voting in a Time of Novel Coronavirus
The 2020 presidential primary had an unprecedented beginning, with the most women and people of color running for the Democratic Party nomination in our country’s history. Then, novel coronavirus hit the United States, which created an unexpected situation for the primary and the most basic lever of our democracy — going to the polls to vote.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) are recommending social distancing as one way to help stop the spread of the virus. To encourage social distancing among citizens, local and state governments across the country have requested or mandated the closure of non-essential businesses such as retail stores and restaurants. Additionally, some states have announced that primary contests have been postponed. As of March 16, the following states have postponed their primaries:
As of March 24, Pennsylvania joined the states postponing their primary contests. Pennsylvania’s primary has been moved to June 2.
Voters in states that have not headed to the polls yet may have some fears about going to a polling place. To heed the social distancing recommendations from authorities, check to see whether your state has made announcements about the primary and apply for an absentee ballot at vote.org. The nonpartisan organization has links to the election authorities of all 50 states. Those websites offer information on how the state is dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic and should help you determine whether your state allows mail-in ballots.
Our fellow Pennsylvanians now can vote by mail. To apply, go to https://www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/Pages/Mail-and-Absentee-Ballot.aspx. Applying now gives you the option to vote via mail-in ballot in the primary in June and to receive a mail-in ballot for the general election in November.
We are living in uncertain times, and as such, we encourage all our fellow citizens to use the means available to us to vote safely in the upcoming primary contests and in the general election in November.