This isn't the first election during a health crisis

Thursday, August 6, 2020
Chris Woodward (

voter casting a ballotWhile news outlets think new Postal Service guidelines could undermine the November election, a former member of the Federal Election Commission points out that in-person voting has carried on during other health crises.

People in support of mail-in balloting believe it is needed to combat the spread of COVID-19. Others see it as a way of helping people who do not or cannot make time to vote.

Meanwhile, media outlets, including ABC News, say newly minted U.S. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy, a former business executive and longtime Republican financier, has put in place a range of operational and procedural changes at the Postal Service meant to cut the costs of retrieving and delivering mail.

This combined with President Trump's recent tweet tossing around the idea of delaying the election has some people concerned that the Trump administration is trying to rig the election process.

Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, warned ABC News that Postmaster Dejoy's changes "will do nothing but slow down and delay mail."

"If they're not reversed, this affects everything we do," Dimondstein added, "and that includes a vote-by-mail."

Responding to this on the "Sandy Rios in the Morning" program on AFR Talk, Hans von Spakovsy of The Heritage Foundation, a center-right think tank headquartered in Washington, DC, said he wanted to laugh at these news reports.

"These changes took effect in mid-July, and you and I both know the Postal Service has been having problems delivering absentee ballots for years, even this year," said von Spakovsky. "There were reports in Wisconsin, Maryland, New York, and the District of Columbia about big problems caused by the fact that the Postal Service did not deliver ballots to many voters, and to other voters they delivered them too late to be counted."

von Spakovsky, Hans (Heritage)Von Spakovsky also went on to point out that in-person voting has carried on during other health crises.

"The best example of this is Liberia in 2014, in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa," he noted. "They followed all the recommendations made by health experts -- line spacing, use of disposable pens to mark ballots -- and they were able to do it safely without any problems."

Even this year, in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, South Korea held its national elections in April.

"29 million South Koreans went to the polls," von Spakovsky continued. "They put in all the health safety protocols experts are calling for in the polling places, and the reports from their health agency similar to our CDC says ... there was no spike in COVID-19 infections."

Still, individuals, think tanks, and special interest groups in the US believe mail-in voting may be the way to go about Election Day in November. Otherwise, in-person turnout may be low in some areas, like Reuters recalls it being in Liberia during the Ebola crisis. Still, those opposed to the mail-in ballots are concerned about fraud and/or ballots getting lost in the mail.


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