This election season has been like no other. It continues to be an odd and rather frustrating experience for many of us, especially first-time voters. The voter turnout is expected to be much higher than it has ever been before. The safety of the voters will be difficult to manage during a pandemic. This means that in-person voting can potentially become dangerous.
One of the most partisan issues of the 2020 election has been COVID-19 and the United States’ response to the pandemic. Due to President Donald Trump’s speculation on mail-in voting fraud, it seems that many registered Republicans will vote in person whether it be early or on election day. Long polling lines are also expected on voting day in cities. Lines mixed with people who have different political opinions on COVID-19 can be dangerous. It is probable that folks who refuse to wear masks will be dispersed throughout lines with people who do believe in the effectiveness of masks and are wearing them. Some people may also refuse to follow directions that the polling places have set in place; for example, masks on at all times and social distancing while in line.
Many people may also go in person on election day because Trump has claimed — repeatedly — that the virus is not severe and that there is nothing to be afraid of. This is extremely concerning and could cause a rise of COVID-19 cases in both Arizona and nationwide. Trump made this declaration after having come down with COVID-19, and sure, there may not be concern when you’re the POTUS and your healthcare is top-of-the-line and on the taxpayer’s dime. It is vital to remember that not everyone has the same access to healthcare that he does. According to the New York Times, Trump’s treatment would have cost the average American over $100,000. Following guidelines put in place, even if you do not agree with them, is the only way to ensure the safety of everyone.
To avoid massive and dangerous lines during the election, there are also other possible alternatives. Early mail-in voting limits the amount of interaction with other people, and it is also safe and secure. You may also request an early ballot and drop it off at a ballot box instead of sending it back through the mail, which is the best of both worlds.
However, if you plan to go in person, it is also possible to vote early as well. By voting early, even if it is in person, the lines will be shorter and ultimately a safer alternative than voting on election day. This type of early voting has ballots available at least 27 days before the election in Arizona. These two alternatives are both safer than Election Day voting and are simpler and quicker to complete. An early voting ballot is a compromise that all registered voters should be able to agree to.
Although the cases of COVID-19 in Arizona were slowly going down and hit a low in September, they are beginning to increase again. It is important to keep following the guidelines to avoid a rise in cases. This election should be no exception. Many states have adopted new and easier ways to vote to help the organization of the massive, expected turnout. These alternatives will also help avoid more "superspreader" events to pop-up, which can ultimately lead to another rise in COVID-19 cases.
Voting is extremely important to our democracy, but is equally as important to stay as safe as possible during this pandemic. Voting in person during election day has many risks and it could put many people’s lives in danger. The only possible way to avoid this is by voting early, especially by mail. It is safer than showing up to polling stations and there is less physical contact with other individuals. Voting in person early is the second best choice, as there would be less people and there is also limited physical contact as well. It also helps ease the mind of voters who want to make sure that their ballot is not messed with — but it is again important to note that, statistically, voter fraud rarely even happens. So remember to vote, wear a mask and wash your hands to have a safe and clean election this year.
Andrea is a freshman law major. She likes to listen to audio books and game in her free time.