Voting in Election

Multiple States Report Long Lines And Polling Issues For 2020 Primary Elections

This past Tuesday Georgia held its primary elections which gave America an unfortunate look at the possible mess the presidential election in November could become if this pandemic doesn’t begin to ease up. Voters in Georgia claim that they were standing in lines for up to four hours and that they never even received a mail-in ballot, forcing them to go to the actual polls and wait. Local officials and poll workers were unable to manage the major influx of voters as well. 

Poll worker shortages are also a major problem amid Covid-19, as many are either sick, or don’t want to risk their health to go work in a community space. Since March local officials have been prioritizing easy and safe means of voting during a worldwide health crisis, however, as many states are seeing now, not a lot of work was actually done. 

“We’re just going to have a catastrophe in November. We’ve already passed the point of catastrophic failure. It doesn’t get any better if we have two to three times the number of people who are trying to vote in these polling locations,” said Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who studies elections. 

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Voters in Nevada also waited for hours in line for their primaries this past Tuesday, despite having a majority of the state choose to mail-in their ballots. Election officials in Pennsylvania and Washington DC also claim that they struggled to provide acceptance to all of the absentee ballot requests before the elections, even if they were sent in on time. Voters in those states also claim to have been waiting on line for multiple hours. 

Maryland and Wisconsin also had reports of long lines and a struggle to receive mail-in ballots, more specifically, it was reported in Milwaukee that they had to reduce their normal 180 polling locations to just five for everyone in the city. The biggest problem, however, is the issue of communities of color receiving an even greater amount of election failures. 

“Black voters are especially hard-hit, in some parts of the country, it feels like officials are making reckless decisions that are a recipe for disaster. It took me three hours to vote in my majority African American precinct in Atlanta, but I saw no line at a polling place in a predominantly white area later in the day,” LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter, told Politico.

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Activists have been very vocal about their concern over mass polling closures amid the pandemic, mainly because politicians have a valid reason for these closings, but not a valid reason as to why they haven’t come up with an easier solution to vote in these massively important upcoming elections. 

Many states who haven’t had their primary elections yet are calling for an extension as to when citizens are able to send in applications for absentee ballots. In Wisconsin, Democrats were able to secure a court order that demanded all mail-in ballots be counted as long as the postage was marked six days before the election; and is received by the election date of course. 

Wisconsin has been acting as the inspiration for voter activists in many states, as after they had a similar disastrous primary election to Georgia, they released a detailed analysis as to what went wrong and an extensive plan to send absentee ballots to every single registered voter, regardless of if they requested one or not. California and Michigan followed suit and said that they would also be sending ballots to every registered voter in the state. 

Right now, all of the states are in a league of their own in terms of how they handle voting in the primaries during two major worldwide pandemics. Some things you can do for yourself in terms of voting is ensuring that you are registered in your proper county, check if your state is offering absentee ballots and request one if you still have time. This is the easiest way to ensure that your vote/voice is still heard, and will hold the least amount of risk in terms of contracting the virus.