A Low-Turnout Election is Solvable (Even During COVID-19)



The stakes are extremely high for this year's election. Experts had anticipated the largest turn out in a century, states were registering voters and preparing their precincts, and then covid nineteen head. Priority suddenly shifted. You don't want governor being able to say Oh. I'M GONNA postpone an election. I mean we've had elections in this country under all kinds of dire circumstances, wars in fact, pandemics in the past having the paper ballot having that backup so that you can do an audit so that you can see if there was fraud so that you can do a recount that turns out to be the best system of all turn. Is there an argument other than the purely partisan one? That more voting may advantage one versus the other you more likely to be struck by lightning. Than commit in person voter impersonation in the United States. But. There are other real hurdles to this year's election. With millions of Americans vulnerable to a deadly pandemic. Social distancing measure is now a familiar part of life and the country facing what is perhaps the largest economic crisis in its history, the challenge of securing safe election with high rates of participation is huge. We can have an election that is participatory. With robust turn out in twenty twenty. This is a solvable problem. Michael Waldman is the author of the book the fight to vote. He's the president of the Brennan. Center, for Justice at Nyu. It's non-partisan law and Policy Institute that focuses on improving systems of democracy. Waldman's an expert in the practicalities of the democratic process. He's identified some straightforward solutions to this year's election challenges. My solvable is having an election. That is safe and secure and fully participatory in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and might. We can't really predict what it's going to be like in November. What are the main things we as a country and as states need to do? You're right that we don't know what it's going to be like in November. The line is we need to? Upgrade how we run elections in the United States for twenty twenty, so that people have the option voting by mail so that there are safe in person options and ample early voting, so that people can register to vote safely and so that we count the ballots in a careful way recognizing that everything's changed. Vote by mail seems like a pretty simple and obvious solution. I mean I understand their legal obstacles in some states in their funding obstacles, but in your ideal world. Wouldn't we just send a prepaid? To everybody WHO's registered and encourage them to vote that way? We'll a lot of states already run their elections by vote by mail, Western states especially like a California and Oregon and Washington. And Colorado and Utah. That's pretty much how people vote right now it will be. Impossible to imagine the whole country. Moving to vote by mail in November. What we can do in the meantime is make it so that people are notified of their a opportunity to get a ballot and they don't need an excuse. They don't need a doctor's note, and we have every reason to think that most people right now will WanNa vote that way yeah I mean. You wrote a whole book about the history of voting and the expansion of voting rights in this. This country, the thing I don't understand about it. Older people who tend to be more conservative tend to vote with Republicans are the most in need of remote voting options and the most in jeopardy from having to go out to vote in person yet it seems to be conservatives who were fighting the vote by mail. Thing so, can you explain that to me well? You know there's lots of things. When it comes to voting. That are controversial with have been partisan fights. If you think about something like the debate over what kind of voter makes sense, that's pretty intense and has been. In the kind of Democrat. Republican left right way. Vote by mail has not been one of the controversial things. The further away you get from. The Fox News set or I guess the White House podium, the left part is in. This is trump. I said out loud. What you really not supposed to say, which is oh, we'll get levels voting there so high. That will never win. And then. After a few days he realized he'd gone off script and what he says. Oh I'm very worried about the specter of voter fraud, but he really made clear. The goal was to restrict. The electorate

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