Bracing Elections for COVID-19
On April 7, 2020, Wisconsin held a calamitous presidential primary election. Unprepared for COVID19, thousands of absentee ballots went uncounted, and hundreds of polling places were closed on short notice. Whatever polling places remained open sorely lacked personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitizing supplies. To avoid replicating this situation, Massachusetts must implement a number of election-oriented reforms in time for the fall elections. While we hope that the public health crisis has passed by then, we must be prepared in the case that it has not.
REDUCED VOTER REGISTRATION WINDOW
During this pandemic, the last thing someone should have to worry about is their voter registration. The legislature must implement election day registration, or at least shrink the voter registration window to minimize burdens places on individuals.
Under vote-by-mail, voters would automatically receive ballots, as well as pre-paid return envelopes and secrecy sleeves. Five states have implemented vote-by-mail: Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Hawaii. There, the process has proven both secure and cost-effective.
PROTECTING IN-PERSON VOTING
No matter what, in-person voting must remain an option. Yet to make sure it takes places in a safe, secure manner, the state must expand early voting to limit the influx of voters on election day. Additionally, the state must supply poll workers with adequate amounts of PPE and sanitizing supplies.