Democracy is in question because of voting safety concerns and although there are varying opinions on the best course of action, most people can agree that the election must go on.
“Regardless of political affiliation, we don’t want presidents to have the power to extend their term without constitutional change,” said Dr. Philip Barker, a political science associate professor and advisor for the KSC Democrats.
From postponed primaries to changed campaigns, the pandemic has already impacted the election process. President of KSC Republicans John Iacobucci said that the pandemic transformed campaigns overnight into online-only work.
“Voter contact is now phone calls, virtual town halls, emails and more. While this may be easier and more accessible for people, the effectiveness of their work will surely contract to a smaller demographic,” said Iacobucci.
President of KSC Democrats Davis Bernstein agreed, but also said Trump is now campaigning in inappropriate ways.
“Trump has been able to turn his press briefings, where he should be informing the public of any updates regarding the virus, into his own personal campaign rally. He insults reporters, constantly lies about the current state of affairs and values the economy over real human lives,” said Bernstein.
Bernstein and Barker both said that it is nearly impossible to postpone the election. Barker said it has been federal law since the 1800s for the election to take place on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
“It could technically change, but Congress would have to pass a new law, and that is very unlikely. In addition, the Constitution requires that the new president be sworn in on January 20 and the new Congress sworn in on January 3. So, even if the law were changed, they wouldn’t be able to postpone it by very much,” said Barker.
With postponing the election out of the question, Barker and Bernstein said that preparation for remote voting should begin. They cited the effects of the pandemic that may persist into the summer, making crowds still highly dangerous.
“If the president of the United States, as well as our troops, should be allowed to send in their ballots, so should the rest of this country,” said Bernstein.
Voter and student Ethan Sweetland explained how the country should handle voting in the upcoming election if COVID-19 is still an issue. “Perhaps the best option, which may appeal universally to Americans, would be through mailing. As for its postponement, there is certainly appeal for the idea of having to put it off until we as a nation get to a better point in this situation where we are able to return more in-person voting,” Sweetland explained.
Differently, Iacobucci said that the country should not make a definite decision yet and wait to see health factors.
“Our elections are not designed to be 100 percent mailed. Bigger cities and vulnerable places are okay, but traditional voting must continue,” said Iacobucci.
He suggested that the country begin working locally in every state to open up more voting locations, ensure social distancing at the polls and keep the environment clean.
Sweetland offered some insight into the benefits of postponing the election. “We wouldn’t have to pressure Americans into a new way of voting,” Sweetland explained. “It gives us time to put more effort into day to day tasks, better acclimating ourselves to our current predicament, and gives us time to deal more with this virus to get to a point where we are more comfortable voting.”
Despite the debates that will occur, Barker said that the beauty of a democracy is that voters can help decide what is best for the country.
“People should have the ability to say whether they have faith in Donald Trump or not. If they do, then he can move forward with his plans accordingly. If not, then democracy gives voters a chance to change direction,” said Barker.
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