Courtesy of fivethirtyeight.com
By Eva Lynch
As the coronavirus crisis surges on, the 2020 election seems to have taken a seat on the back burner, a first for a presidential election. Despite the lack of media coverage, Democratic candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and former vice president Joe Biden continue to boost their campaigns, while President Donald Trump’s campaign team continues to attempt at framing the current crisis in a politically advantageous way.
Another dangerous potential effect of the COVID-19 crisis remains to be seen: voter turnout during the November general elections. The recently passed $2.2 trillion stimulus bill excluded vote-by-mail adaptations in light of the pandemic, though it did allot $400 million to states in election security funds.
Following the bill’s passing, the absence of those critical vote-by-mail regulations has resulted in the next Pelosi-Trump standoff following impeachment procedures. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has recently been vocal about the necessity of scaling up vote-by-mail procedures to shield voters from coronavirus-related voting hazards while protecting the rectitude of the election process. In an MSNBC interview, Pelosi’s comments suggested at least a partial move to vote-by-mail practices for the November elections.
According to the Guardian, Trump said in a Fox & Friends interview that if the bill had included the voting regulations pushed by Democrats, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Voting reforms are not an issue unique to this time of coronavirus; Democrats accuse current voting practices of disproportionately affecting minorities’, immigrants’, and younger people’s ability to voice their opinions on elected officials. Republicans oppose voting reforms for fear of the occurrence of voter fraud.
Apart from voting concerns, the pandemic has thrown a wrench into the Democratic National Convention’s (DNC) plan to win the White House, as any strategy they may have, no matter how strong, is now subjugated by the effects of the virus. Trump’s chances of reelection are now at the hands of COVID-19 instead of the DNC’s. Regardless, the latest polls show Biden surpassing Trump in preliminary projections for the general election. And while Biden as the DNC’s primary nominee is not set in stone, it’s seeming more likely, as Sanders himself has expressed the difficulty of beating Biden at this point.