A new survey by data services company Dynata shows that most American voters are very concerned that the Coronavirus pandemic may prevent citizens from voting in the upcoming presidential elections and states and jurisdictions must take action.
Some 63 percent of American voters are “very” or “somewhat concerned” that the virus will reduce voter participation. Other significant findings:
- 46% are at least somewhat worried that they or their immediate family might become infected while voting at their traditional polling place
- 78% feel it is “very important” or “somewhat important” for state and local government to provide alternatives to in-person voting
Further, American voters overwhelmingly support measures to maximize social distancing and to make voting easier, including:
- expanded access to early voting
- expanded access to vote-by-mail (including pre-paid postage)
- increasing the number of in-person polling places
- allowing voting at any precinct in their county
- extending voter registration deadlines
- allowing same-day registration
- giving all workers paid time off for voting
The data comes as no surprise to most. States must work to make it easier for voters to participate in elections without lines, without crowding and with clean, safe-to-touch equipment. Equally as important, jurisdictions must make all of their sites safe for election workers and volunteers, including warehouses, counting rooms and other processing centers.
But the big take away from this is that it confirms that jurisdictions also need to take proactive measures to communicate their efforts to the electorate. Not only must officials explain new voting processes, they must explain specifically what they’ve done to make voting safe. In this case, believing that it is safe to vote is as important as actually being safe.
Even when voters are availing themselves of mail-in balloting, they will want to know that in-person voting is safe. If voters don’t feel that jurisdictions have their best interests at heart, they are more likely to simply not participate at all.
The communication must also include specialized messages for election workers and volunteers. These critical audience need to feel confident that they are safe in all election operations.
A holistic approach is the only way for election officials to know that they have been thorough in every stage of their hygiene program. Further, they must engage health and election experts to ensure that the guidance is effective. Safe, robust and fair elections will require a two-pronged approach that includes prevention and remediation actions and an aggressive communication program. The future of democracy depends on it more than ever.
See what Smartmatic is doing to ensure safe voting. Click here.