By David Hirzel
As it becomes increasingly more clear that the movement of the coronavirus through society is unpredictable, new outbreaks surge in unanticipated places. Most recently, in areas where business and commerce has been reopened to an extent that is contrary to the best advice from CDC. Unsurprisingly, many of the states choosing to ignore sound epidemiological advice are led by governors and legislatures who follow the president’s scattershot pronouncements and policies.
Some of us see these upticks in new cases as predictable. Science does not yet fully understand the ways and means of coronavirus spread, only that the contagion proliferates in ways we cannot anticipate. If some state governments are incapable of prudent—i.e. “acting with or showing care and thought for the future”—action, then it will be up to the rest of us to show the way.
That is why the time is now, to demand legislation instituting nationwide vote-by-mail well before the November 2020 national election. Consider this nightmare scenario, and how easily it might come to pass. The week before the general election (which today requires that many voters, in many states, must travel personally to their polling place), an overwhelming surge in coronavirus emerges—perhaps in one or several of the perennial swing states, where the results may turn either way. Out of an abundance of caution—to protect the health of those voter—the election is postponed, perhaps indefinitely while waiting for the crisis to subside. With no clear results, and those that when they come in later—if ever—are hotly contested, the present occupant of the White House refuses to leave even though his term has ended. Following that lead, some in Congress do the same.
After all, the elections were postponed, perhaps even cancelled, out of an abundance of caution deferring to the health of the people. Who could argue with that?
You could. Today. As Congress considers the next coronavirus relief package, you can make it known that you want nationwide vote-by-mail—like we already have in California—to all 50 states. Right now, 22 states still have restrictions making vote-by-mail as problematic as getting to the polls on election day. If the polls are closed because the coronavirus has returned in force, the results will remain in question, perhaps forever.
Legislation has been proposed, but languished. The time is now, to let it be known that you want the provisions of the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act of 2009 included in the next coronavirus relief act. Act now, before it’s too late.
After all, what could be more American than to have all citizens cast their vote, and have that vote counted?
(David Hirzel is a Pacifica resident and author. His latest book is “When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic“