It’s hard to remember in the midst of, well, literally everything happening in the world right now, but we are just seven months away from a general election where we will either pick a new president or stay the same disastrous course.
There are quite a few reasons to feel some dread about that, including the fact that scientists and health experts are still not certain what the state of the coronavirus pandemic will be by November. The latest research doesn’t bring much good news: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said there could be a “second wave” of the virus in the fall, and a new report warned the Trump administration that increased heat and humidity in the summer likely won’t slow the virus down.
This means that voters may have to choose between their health and their ballot, as was the case in Wisconsin earlier this week. In that Midwestern state—which has been dogged by voter suppression issues in the past—tens of thousands of voters were shut out from submitting absentee ballots after the Supreme Court ruled against allowing officials to extend deadlines to both send and count the mail-in ballots. Officials are still counting responses from Tuesday’s election, but in cities like Milwaukee, where black people have been hit especially hard by the virus, residents were forced to wait in line for hours to cast their vote (because of a lack of poll volunteers, officials had to consolidate 182 polling stations down to five).
Here’s the thing: it doesn’t have to be this way.
Former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren unveiled a massive set of proposals earlier this week to overhaul our voting processes come November, NPR reports. Among them: $4 billion in new elections funding, 30 days of required early voting, and a mail-in ballot automatically sent to every registered voter in the country, so they can have a say in their country’s future without potentially jeopardizing their health and the health of others.
“The chaos and the attempt to suppress the vote in Wisconsin should be a wake-up call for the United States Congress,” Warren told NPR on Tuesday. “We need to act immediately.”
This is, of course, assuming you actually want folks to freely and fairly participate in elections, which the GOP and President Donald Trump have already made abundantly clear that they do not.
Democrats tried to add some of these reforms in last month’s $2.2 trillion stimulus package before having those proposals rejected by their Republican colleagues. Talking about these voting reforms, Trump said: “The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Shit, a girl can dream.