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HOW COVID-19 COULD CHANGE THE AMERICAN ELECTION

Carlotta Baravalle

On November 3, 2020 the American people will be called upon to choose the next U.S. President. This is not a randomly chosen date, as the Congress decided in 1845 that every presidential election must be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. I know, it can be confusing. 
As expected, COVID-19 is already playing an important role in this election. Media coverage that usually focuses on a presidential election for the whole year is now, inevitably, focusing more on the state of emergency. Fifteen states have already postponed their primaries, and everybody is starting to question whether the general election will be deferred as well. 
The largest issue in terms of organization is that nobody really knows what the situation will be like six months from now. The democratic party has already decided to delay its National Convention from July to at least mid-August. Republicans have not postponed their Convention, but some believe it’s a just a matter of time before they do postpone it as well. 
According to the New York Times, it is hard to make comparisons with previous elections, because, this year, there’s the whole “fear” component kicking in, which was only present at similar levels in 2001 after 9/11. Historians cite 1944 as the last year our lives changed this quickly and this much.
From the candidates’ point of view, their absences from public appearances caused more difficulties in campaign fund-raising and made it harder for them to collect approval without meeting their supporters in person. 
The 2020 Elections could end up being very short compared to previous elections, with some suggesting a transition to a mail-in only election, in order to avoid having to delay the whole process. Yet, every state has its own laws for this, which would make it very complicated. Moreover, the Republican party seems very concerned that this would invite votes fraud. 
Changing the election day is not a presidential right or duty. The only way to make it happen is through legislation enacted by Congress and only after it is signed by the President.
People’s health and lives are at stake, as well as the election. The Government will need a cohesive solution to solve both the pandemic emergency and, only secondly, one of the pillars of the American democracy this year.