Voting during a pandemic

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Host Madeleine Brand reveals her passion for an online spelling-game by the New York Times.

In this episode of The Legal Eagle Files, KCRW host and journalist Madeleine Brand talks with law professor Jessica Levinson about how states can act now to ensure that voters can safely exercise their right to vote in November. They also chat about whether or not Mother’s Day is cause for celebration of consternation, and Brand's twin passions: an online spelling-game and an exercise bike. 

Levinson offers additional insights below into the intricacies of voting during the pandemic: 

How can states ensure that voters do not have to choose between their health and their right to vote?

States must act now to ensure that voters can safely exercise their right to vote in November,” says Levinson. 

“The best way to do this is to expand voting by mail. This is the moment for states to make sure that they have the required infrastructure necessary to send and process many more vote-by-mail ballots than they have in the past. In addition, states should ramp up in-person voting options that allow for safe social distancing – such as more early voting and more personal protective equipment for poll workers. All of this will require political will, voter education, and money.”

Can President Trump postpone the presidential election?

“Yes and no,” says Levinson. “Congress could vote to delay the election, but not by much. President Trump’s term ends on January 20, 2021. The vote must be cast and counted by that time.”

Why are some people and lawmakers reticent to expand voting options? 

“There are indications that at least some Republicans believe lower voter turnout helps their candidates, and that higher voter turnout in turn helps Democrats. On ‘Fox and Friends,’ President Trump recently said: ‘They had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.’ This is likely, at least in part, why Democrats typically introduce and support legislation making it easier to vote, while Republicans do the opposite and advocate for more restrictions on the right to vote. Senator Mitch McConnell recently described a proposal to increase voter turnout by making Election Day into a federal holiday as a Democratic power grab.”