The coronavirus pandemic continues to drive deliberations in states nationwide about how to conduct elections for the rest of this year and beyond.
In both reliably blue Nevada and relatively red Georgia, election officials on Tuesday decided to make their primaries wide open to voting by mail. Delaware became the latest state to delay its primary, while Wisconsin pressed ahead despite warnings about a shortage of poll workers.
States will get $400 million to make voting in the coronavirus presidential election easier and safer, but with almost no strings attached, under the massive economic recovery package unveiled Wednesday.
The pot of money in the nearly $2 trillion stimulus deal, on a fast track to pass the Senate by day's end with the House vote timetable uncertain, is the result of an unusually intense and coordinated lobbying campaign by some of the major players in the democracy reform movement.
While celebrating a rare victory for one of their causes, some groups nonetheless said they would seek much more money in what's likely to be another pandemic response package from Congress this spring. These groups warned the initial infusion of cash will prove insufficient to prevent justifiable anxiety about voting this fall, and that an absence of any legislative mandates will allow too much of the grant money to get spent unwisely.
Amid a national consensus that casting your ballot while "social distancing" is a best practice during the coronavirus outbreak, the leading advocacy group for minimizing reliance on in-person voting is out with an extensive "how to" guide for state and local governments.
"We have the time, if we act now, to mitigate many of the legitimate concerns both elections officials and voters have, and protect the integrity of the 2020 election," the National Vote at Home Institute said Thursday in unveiling its 11-page report.
It was finalized in a hurry as Congress, an array of state legislatures and the Democratic Party all intensified their interest in expanding voting from home and using the mail as the safest way to protect the electorate during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has made gathering in groups a significant health risk.
While the novel coronavirus has upended life across the country, the democracy reform community is sounding determined to stay on course through an election year that could prove pivotal for its goals.
The rapid spread of Covid-19 has brought unprecedented challenge to lobbyists and advocates for all causes, including those working to fix the broken political system. Not only have logistics been jumbled and planned campaigns threatened, but the public and the nation's policymakers are now singularly focused on the pandemic and the economic collapse it's threatening — leaving almost no room for discussing any other national ills.
Highlighting how fix-the-system efforts are in limbo, one of the most prominent and best-financed advocacy groups, RepresentUs, planned to announce that its Unrig convention, scheduled to take place in eight weeks, would be postponed for at least several months.
At the same time, the infectious and potentially deadly virus is also scrambling the democracy reform agenda, with an optimistic coalition rapidly assembling behind what had been a second-tier cause: expanding access to the polls by making voting at home the American standard.