As coronavirus deaths continue to rise, and medical professionals are predicting a second wave of the pandemic could be even worse, the prospects of free and fair elections are in question.
But despite the risks, we must take advantage of every opportunity to make our votes count and not allow Donald J. Trump and his Republican cronies to make voting so difficult that people stay home and he ends up stealing the election.
Tragically, during this era of social distancing, the immediate threat to voters’ health could result in many people not voting on November 3, benefiting Trump, who has claimed that high voter turnout will hurt Republicans.
There is a lesson to be learned from the the recent Wisconsin primary, in which, as a test case, Republicans forced mandatory in-person voting in an effort to elect a Republican judge and turn Wisconsin into a Republican stronghold. Thousands risked their health to vote and this vile maneuver failed. The death toll has yet to be calculated.
After this failed attempt at voter suppression, the issue of voting by mail has come to the forefront. Democrats in Congress are pushing this, but, predictably, Trump is opposed, warning mail-in ballots would result in rampant voter fraud. While this has been debunked, Trump continues to push this claim even while acknowledging that he and his family have voted by mail and admitting that mail-in ballots don’t work well for Republicans.
The 2020 presidential campaign will certainly be remembered as one of the most unique races in modern history. Conducted during the coronavirus pandemic, this campaign may have zero face-to-face interactions between the candidates. Conventions, with their raucous elbow rubbing most likely will be impossible in this era of social distancing, and even voting itself will be a challenge.
The 2016 Republican campaign was a battle royale of candidates with Trump becoming the unlikely front runner and winner. Under the axiom, “Any publicity is good publicity” Trump kept his name in the headlines with repeated outlandish statements, gaffes and scandals that had pundits predicting THIS would destroy his campaign.
Instead, as the media kept his name in the headlines, his campaign picked up steam. This momentum vaulted him into the lead, the eventual nomination and finally, with an assist from Russia, through the weaponization of Wikileaks, to the White House.
Now Trump is using his daily coronavirus briefings as a replacement for his rallies. During these “briefings” he berates reporters who ask questions he either doesn’t like or can’t answer, touts “the amazing job” he is doing, spews propaganda, and attempts to re-write history by denying things he is on record as previously saying.
Meanwhile, his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, is struggling for airtime. As the Coronavirus and Trump gobble up media attention, Biden, who would normally be on the campaign trail, is rarely in the news these days, recently forced to produce video statements from a makeshift basement studio in his home.
All of this means that paid television and social media advertising will be more important than ever, thus also emphasizing the critical importance of raising the money that will be needed to pay for this airtime.
Nevertheless, as summer approaches, and the election draws ever closer, it will be up to Congress to assure that, regardless of the circumstances, a free, fair and open election takes place on November 3.
Then, despite the risk, we must take advantage of every opportunity to make our votes count. Using absentee ballots, early voting and, when necessary, voting in person, we must not allow this election to be stolen.
It is up to voters to pay attention, to call out Trump for what he is – a danger to our nation and the world – and do whatever it takes to exercise our right to vote and remove this despot from the White House.