RELEASE: CAP Column Explains How States Can Protect the Right to Vote During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Washington, D.C. — With the coronavirus spreading rapidly across the country, a new column from the Center for American Progress urges states to take measures that protect Americans’ right to vote.

These proposals would allow elections to proceed while helping to mitigate public health risks during these extremely unusual conditions. Under no circumstances should the 2020 general election be delayed; states and Congress have time to act now to prepare.

“Officials must protect the integrity, accessibility, and security of the electoral process while at the same time preventing further spread of the virus,” said Danielle Root, associate director of voting rights and access to justice for Democracy and Government Reform at CAP.

The recommendations include:

  • Federal lawmakers must provide emergency funding for elections.
  • States must expand opportunities for eligible Americans to register to vote and cast ballots safely and securely, including via online voter registration, no-excuse absentee voting, vote by mail, and early voting.
  • Extra poll workers should be on standby in case others become ill or are quarantined.
  • Polling places must be kept safe and sanitary, and states should adopt measures to prevent long lines or crowds at polling locations.
  • States with strict voting rules must eliminate, or at a minimum relax, onerous requirements.
  • States should adopt and extend paid time off for voting.
  • Officials at all levels must engage in robust information sharing.
  • States must keep the public informed of changes to election procedures and polling locations.

Administering elections during the COVID-19 pandemic will likely test America’s electoral system in ways we have not witnessed before. It will require significant and time-sensitive action by all involved. But by adopting common-sense solutions, officials can avoid many foreseeable problems while helping to ensure the health and safety of American voters.

Read the column: “Election Contingency Planning During the Coronavirus Pandemic,” by Danielle Root.

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.

For more information, or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at , or 202-478-6327.