As the effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt across the nation, a number of aspects in life within the U.S. have been altered or canceled to preserve health and safety of the American people.
As the 2020 presidential election draws nearer, and states implementing their own stay-at-home orders, candidates have had to adapt their strategies.
Currently, the race for the presidency is between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Both candidates have had to cancel campaign events and are now relying on the media to promote their ideas and gain influence. However, even with the way the pandemic has been affecting the daily lives of citizens, some could say it hasn’t been enough to give Trump an edge in the race.
“Unless there was a very small boost in his approval ratings when the Coronavirus first hit, that pretty much seemed to have entirely disappeared by now,” said John Lucas, a professor of political science at Pierce College.
Lucas elaborated that the bump in Trump’s ratings is quite low compared to other world leaders and that, normally, citizens would experience what’s referred to as the rally ‘round the flag effect. This effect describes a temporary increase in support of the current president during times of crisis. According to Lucas, leaders in Europe have seen their approval rates increase by 30 to 40 percent while President Trump’s has only increased by 4-5.
Lucas hypothesized that one of the major reasons for this was the polarization of opinions about the president.
“People have really strong feelings about Donald Trump, so there’s a really narrow window that his numbers can move in,” said Lucas.
Lucas also believed that, due to how the Trump administration has been handling the current pandemic, people are beginning to lose faith in the competency of the president.
President Trump’s platform has also been altered due to COVID-19. His initial idea was to run on the success of the economy for his reelection, but, with the economy tanking, that’s no longer an option. The president will also have to combat allegations by the democrats that the administration didn’t prepare for this pandemic and is partly responsible for the current state of the country.
So far, Biden has been keeping mostly to himself and Lucas theorized two possible reasons why. The first being that Biden believes President Trump is doing more damage to himself than he can, the second is that Biden just isn’t a very good campaigner.
Either way, Lucas assumes both the president and Biden will most likely shift their attention to COVID-19, and how they handle it will have a part in how people vote for them.
Along with how the election has been unfolding, questions and concerns have been raised about how exactly the nation will go about voting. Recently, President Trump has criticized the idea of voting by mail, often stating that it will result in fraud.
“Mail ballots are very dangerous for this country because of cheaters. They go collect them. They are fraudulent in many cases,” said President Trump, The New York Times reported.
Washington is among four other states who also conduct their elections by mail and have allowed absentee voting since 1991. Since then, a number of regulations and precautions have been put in place to protect against fraud. Lucas argued in favor of voting by mail.
“I think voting by mail is a great idea. America has really low voting rates compared to other countries. Especially if there’s going to be the problems of the Coronavirus making it not safe for people to go in person to the polls, I think this is probably the best solution to that,” said Lucas.
In terms of voting by mail is susceptible to fraud, Lucas elaborated that the evidence for that is quite small and that tens of thousands wouldn’t be able to vote without potentially risking their lives during this pandemic.
Another concern besides fraud is how a system of this scope would be implemented effectively. Washington state has had the voting by mail system for 29 years as of 2020, whereas the country would need to implement the system by November.
According to the Washington Secretary of State’s website, there are four steps to securely register votes. The first thing they do is check the signatures on the outside of the return envelope and the signature in the voter registration record match. Next, they credit the person to ensure only one ballot from that person is counted. They then separate the outer envelope and inner security envelope to ensure the secrecy of the voter. Finally, they inspect all ballots to make sure they’ll be read properly and test the reading machines.
In an interview with The New York Times, Kim Wyman Republican Washington Secretary of State expressed whether or not voting by mail for the entire country was possible.
“I don’t think it’s a realistic goal to think that you could get 50 states to all be vote-by-mail by even the November election just because the states are in such wildly different places,” said Wyman.
With the financial resources required, the geographical challenges Wyman expressed and with Trump also against the idea, how the country will vote come November remains uncertain.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost