To conduct elections safely this fall, states need registration and voting options that can happen remotely or can enable social distancing. Based on their policies, which states are most and least prepared to do this?
What are states' voting policies? How can they prepare for a COVID-19 election? And what do voters think about safety, integrity, and preparedness?
Photo by Cavin Mattheis/News Sentinel
Many experts believe that there will be a continued need this fall for public health interventions—such as social distancing, reduced occupancy in indoor spaces, and aggressive sanitizing protocols—to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public.
The question is: How can the United States safely and securely hold its elections during this ongoing pandemic?
Importantly, states are not locked into their voting processes for the general election. Many still have time to make policy changes that minimize personal contact, reduce crowds, and limit common access to high-touch surfaces. In making such changes, state officials must consider not only public health and safety, but also how any new voting processes affect election access, integrity, and logistics.
Part of RAND's Countering Truth Decay initiative, new research aims to answer these questions and help states plan for November. After all, safe and legitimate elections are essential to building and maintaining a government that people trust. And while there are always threats to U.S. elections, such as disinformation campaigns and cyber threats, COVID-19 presents a whole new set of risks and considerations.