The coronavirus crisis may cause more voting for the 2020 presidential election to be done through absentee ballots. Photo courtesy of Vote.org.

As COVID-19 Pandemic Continues, So Does the 2020 Election

In the midst of the uncertainty surrounding the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 presidential election continues to unfold.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign for president on April 8, effectively making former Vice President Joe Biden the expected Democratic nominee to go against Republican President Donald Trump in November’s general election. Sanders officially endorsed Biden on April 13 during a livestream with the former vice president.

Biden currently has 1,288 delegates, with Sanders holding 918 delegates. 1,991 delegates are needed to secure the nomination at the Democratic Party’s national convention.

But as deaths from COVID-19 reach nearly 120,000, and cases nearing 2 million worldwide, the future of the November election and the remaining primaries hang in the balance. Many states have moved their upcoming primary elections to later dates, including Maryland. Others have switched their primaries to mail-in voting, such as Alaska’s primary this past week, which Joe Biden won.

All major candidates running for president have cancelled in-person campaign events. Joe Biden has been holding livestream conferences with his supporters, much like what Sanders was doing prior to suspending his campaign. President Donald Trump has been holding frequent press briefings with many of his selected pandemic crisis advisors. He has used these briefings to make statements of strength and perseverance to the American public.

The Democratic Party moved its presidential nomination convention from July to August as a result of the pandemic. The Republican convention is still scheduled for late August. Despite this, party leaders have suggested possibly holding the conventions online. The Libertarian Party’s national convention, originally slated to be held in Austin, Texas next month, will now be held virtually. The Green Party is currently still planning to hold their convention in-person in Detroit, during the month of July.

The inability to hold in-person events has made getting on the ballot a struggle for minor parties. The Green Party has called for a lowering of ballot access requirements, as party volunteers cannot go door-to-door to collect signatures that are required for ballot access in some states.

Many politicians and public health officials have warned that if the pandemic is not over by November, the general election may have to be conducted with mail-in ballots. Some have even proposed online voting.

FCC student Mackenzie Creighton gave her thoughts on mail-in voting: “I think mail-in voting could allow for voter fraud. It’s really risky, but I guess there won’t be much of a choice if [the COVID-19 pandemic] is still going on by November.”

Public health officials have warned that social distancing and stay-at-home orders may continue into the summer months. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has said that the state’s stay-at-home order will end when the state of emergency is lifted, without providing an estimated date. The 2020 general election is scheduled for Nov. 3.

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