Editorial: Stop coronavirus U.S. election threat with mail balloting

When it comes to voting, Americans should not have to choose between their health and their democracy.

In the days ahead, there will be lots of second-guessing about the details of the U.S. Senate’s $2 trillion stimulus bill that was hammered out after days of negotiations with the White House.

Representative democracy forces imperfect compromises. Such is the nature of the system, in which no side should let their vision of the perfect be the enemy of the collective good. The stimulus package is critical, and the allocation of those funds is a consequence of our elections.

But it’s a different matter when those elections themselves are endangered — and our leaders, for partisan advantage, fail to take adequate steps to protect them. Thus, one of the most glaring failures of the stimulus deal is the lack of sufficient funding and the omission of requirements for a nationwide universal mail-in balloting option.

Everyone eligible to cast a ballot should be able to vote from home. This should be a no-brainer — especially after we’ve witnessed how the coronavirus, or another similar crisis, could restrict our public activities.

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The COVID-19 outbreak has already completely upset the nation’s primary election calendar. As of Wednesday, nine states and Puerto Rico have postponed their primaries because of the health threat. More are expected to follow. Three others are switching entirely to vote-by-mail balloting.

Looking to November, we cannot let this virus, or something similar, hinder our presidential election.

In California, we conducted our presidential primary just before the coronavirus started upending the election calendar. And, in this state, all voters already have the option to cast their ballots by mail.

But 17 states still do not offer mail-in balloting to all voters. This is an issue, left unresolved, that could alter the outcome of the November general election in unpredictable ways.

While we hope that the coronavirus will be a thing of the past by November, we shouldn’t count on it. Moreover, we should be prepared for any emergency that might make turning out at the polls difficult or impossible.

Even if there isn’t a health or other crisis, the availability of home balloting to everyone just makes sense. We should be doing everything we can to provide secure options to maximize participation. And, even after COVID-19 is a threat of the past, whenever that …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Health


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