In normal times, elections campaigns are full of crowded rallies, handshakes and long speeches. But with the United States bombarded by the coronavirus pandemic, everything is going to be different in this election year.
From the very beginning of the year, 2020 things have been unprecedented. Vicious virus, the collapsing economy, and outrageous protest for black lives matter; how all this will affect voting in America? How the US presidential election of 2020 is going to be, amidst the global pandemic?
The US presidential election 2020
The US presidential election is planned to take place on the 3rd of November this year; with two rival, the Incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate, former vice president Joe Biden.
In the pandemic, plans for rallies have marred. The contagious virus have dampen all the political rallies, puting the candidates in a ticklish situation. Keeping people safe along side invigorating avidity for their campaigns is going to be tough.
Donald Trump V/S Joe Biden
President Donald Trump has started physical rallies for the election amid the pandemic. Being the incumbent president, it is easy for him to stay in the news. Sasha Issenberg, author of The Victoria Lab says, “Presidents always have a built-in advantage. They can make news instead of just respond to the news.”
President Trump’s pitch for gathering vote was the US’s economy and how it has flourished under his presidency. But now, the global recession seems to have turned the tables. COVID19 have a devastating effect on the economy of the country with GDP contracting down to -9.1% in the first quarter of 2020.
Due to the pandemic and consequent lockdowns, millions of Americans, making up a quarter of the workforce, have lost their jobs. Unemployment in the US has surged to 14.7% which is the worst country has seen since 1948.
Americans take a dim view of how Trump administration is handling COVID 19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protest.
Donald Trump’s political rally violating public health advice in Tusla didn’t go well, as most of the seats were seen vacant. Recently he arranged first completely indoor campaign rally since June in Las Vegas, where the Pandemic’s health guideline issued by his own administration was contravened.
47th Vice president and Democratic candidate Joe Biden on the other hand are choosing online platforms like Zoom for his campaigns. A paper released in March found that Democrats are more likely to practice social distancing measures than the Republicans.
Election voting amid COVID19
Obviously the pandemic has put the presidential election in a bad light. Campaigns, rallies and voting are all matter of contention. In late April Democrat Kweisi Mfume of Maryland won the election for the U.S. House of Representative amidst the pandemic. But the astounding voting was done by 110,000 Baltimoreans who cast their ballot by mail. In the early June election in Georgia, more than 1 million voters cast their votes by mail-in-ballot.
Coronavirus has infected more than 6.5 million American till now, and have caused more than 190 thousand death. Under these circumstances, many voters patently feel it perilous to gather up for voting.
Voting by mail might sound like a good alternative given the occurrence, but there are other issues that the country needs to deal with before shifting to mail-in-ballot. In states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan voters need to apply beforehand if they want to vote by mail. While 16 other states of American allow mail-in-ballot to only special cases, for example to a disabled person who is unable to vote in person.
Amber McReynolds, CEO of National Vote at Home Institute says; infrastructure for the mail-in-voting need to be revamped in all the 45 states which do not have automatic mailing ballot.
How will the pandemic affect both the candidates?
Public health experts believe that the hope of having COVID vaccine till the presidential election is negligible therefore till that time coronavirus will still be a threat in many parts of the U.S., In that case, mail-in ballot might be the best substitute of many states of America. But many political experts believe that voting by mail, as well as jeopardy of voting in person, can sway the election outcomes.
In the previously held mail voting, there have been many malfunctions too. Indiana’s voters who requested for a vote by mail complained that they never received the ballot. In Washington D.C., voters had to wait hours as there were just 20 vote-in-person centres which were open and election officials were also not able to fulfil all the request for mail-in-ballots.
Such malfunctioning in November’s presidential voting can have negative outcomes for the Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Shana Kushner Gadarian, a political scientist at Syracuse University says; “If Democrats are taking more precautions because of the coronavirus, we may see them not turn out as much as they would have without the pandemic”.
There is no doubt that the pandemic will have great influence on the November presidential election. But how will this truly turnout for both the candidates will only reveal in November.