How will COVID-19 impact U.S. elections?

By Cami Ferrell

DENTON - The 2020 election cycle has changed drastically in response to the coronavirus. Primaries across 16 states have been rescheduled to prevent the virus from spreading. Some

states have also relaxed absentee voting requirements to allow people to safely vote from their homes. After public requests from Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, the Democratic National Committee rescheduled their convention for August 17, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Republican National Committee will meet the following week in Charlotte, North Carolina. Traditionally, the party in office has a later convention date than the party that is not.

Biden currently has 1,217 delegates, and Sanders has 914. Sanders dropped out of the race on Wednesday, but will still appear on the ballot in the coming primaries. These results do not include the delegates from the Wisconsin primaries held on Tuesday, despite the advice of health professionals.

The Supreme Court denied an extension of the voting period in Wisconsin in a 5-4 vote. If the Supreme Court had approved the measure, Wisconsin voters would have had six extra days to vote. The Chair of the DNC called the choice, “a dark day for democracy.” Citizens lined up outside of polling locations, causing them to violate social distancing protocols and the state-wide lockdown in order to vote. More than 1 million voters in Wisconsin requested absentee ballots, and results are not expected until next week.

President Donald Trump is up for re-election. In the past, his rallies have been crucial to his campaign and have awakened his base. UNT Political Science Chair, Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha explained why supporters may still be energized without these rallies.

“President Trump, if we’re thinking electorally, politically, right now he certainly has the advantage, because he’s out there every day providing updates on the coronavirus task force,” he said.

Eshbaugh-Soha said that the national response to previous epidemics and pandemics, like SARS, H1N1, and Ebola, are important to think about.

“Those other flu-like epidemics might have colored the initial response of the administration, which wasn't particularly urgent,” he said.

China alerted the world about the virus threat 101days ago. The United States began to employ social distancing and lock-down measures during March.

Coronavirus protocols are changing daily, and there is no concrete expectation for when life will resume to previous standards in the US. CDC and WHO projections change each day as new measures are implemented across the nation, but social distancing has been effective in decreasing the projected fatalities. At this time, general elections are still set to take place as planned in November.