Coronavirus crisis may benefit future voters

The year 1816 is known as the Year without a Summer.  Snowfall and freezing temperatures in June, July and August destroyed crops in much of the Northern Hemisphere. Corn, wheat, vegetables as well as meat, butter and milk, were in short supply. Thousands starved, and cholera raged among the malnourished. 

Then it was over. In time family stories faded away.  .  

Yet, generations totally unaware of that year’s casualties continue to benefit from some of its results–the bicycle, heightened migration into the American west, mineral fertilizers, and, possibly, a more centralized anti-slavery movement.

Hopefully, our coronavirus crisis may also be soon over and sometime forgotten, but leave adaptations benefitting many.   

I love that planners for the St. Luke’s FitOne race are envisioning runners at different times on tracks across the state. Will the planners create something as uplifting as being part of the traditional crowd of runners with shared goals and concern for community? Or will we be left simply with memories of making the best of hard times?  

 The big shakeup in state elections, however, seems destined to bring some permanent changes. 

I know some people don’t like that Idaho is voting all-absentee during this primary. They’re not afraid to walk into a polling place, show their ID, and complete their ballot.

And all it would take to make that possible is a crew of six or eight people–most of them over 60–putting in 14-hour days and handling hundreds of IDs. 

Voters aren’t the only ones we need to consider. 

Idaho is doing the right thing. Officials explored options, mailed out absentee ballot requests, and are tackling problems as they arise.   

  The 17 states that still require voters to give a reason for needing an absentee ballot have had a harder time. Eleven of those states have announced they are accepting fear of coronavirus as qualifying at least for the primary ballot ( 

True the Vote is suing three of these states–Virginia, Nevada, and New Mexico–and claiming that people are committing a felony by stating they are ill when they aren’t–and that many will be disenfranchised when ballots are lost in the mail or miscounted. 

The irony, obviously, is that without the right to an absentee ballot 100% of persons who fear coronavirus enough to avoid the polls will be disenfranchised.     

  Colorado, Oregon, and Washington vote entirely by mail. Hawaii mails everyone ballots but has ‘voter service centers’ for those who prefer to vote in person.  Utah is just putting a vote-by-mail system into effect.  And two states–California and North Dakota–allow counties to choose whether to vote entirely absentee or not. 

Apparently, it’s possible to process thousands of absentee ballots.

President Trump singled out Michigan and Nevada in a rant against vote by mail last week. Michigan, like Idaho, mailed out absentee ballot applications for both the primary and the general election. Nevada, also like Idaho, is holding an all-mail primary.

The President claims balloting by mail favors Democrats and encourages voter fraud. 

Most Republicans support absentee balloting. The majority of the elderly who support Republicans are the ones most likely to vote by absentee ballot     

And experience indicates there is less danger with fraud from mail-in ballots than with voting machines.

There are areas, however, where Republicans restrict access to stay in power. Some officials have cut the number of polling places up to 60%, located them out of town and beyond public transit, and denied bathroom access to people waiting in lines for up to six hours.  

 Just having easy access to a ballot may be a good change for some Americans.

Published by Judy Ferro

Judy Ferro is communication director for the 2C Dems and a columnist for the Idaho Press.

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