Technology overcame social distancing for the April 2020 Virtual Brews & Views. We reached an audience of 96 viewers for a terrific presentation.
Special guest Barbara L. McQuade, professor at the University of Michigan School of Law and former U.S attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, addressed the question of the impact of COVID-19 on our 2020 elections. A significant portion of the evening was devoted to Q&A with questions submitted in advance as well as during the evening. We learned a lot – here are a few key points:
- President has no power to change the election date.
- Congress can adjust the date of election of its members and the presidential election usually coincides with congressional elections.
- The President's and Vice President’s term of office ends January 21, 2021 if no election is held.
- If no one is elected to take office as President starting January 21, 2021, the question of who would assume the office is very complicated with no clear answer. (See below* for links to news articles on this topic.)
It is essential that upcoming 2020 elections be safely and securely held. To do this, we can employ several strategies:
- All states use no-reason-required absentee voting with implementation of procedures to make the process secure. As of July 30, 2019, thirty states plus Washington, DC allow no-excuse absentee voting, five states already hold elections entirely by mail, and fifteen states require a reason to vote absentee, meaning they need to revise their election rules to facilitate the vote.
- Have extended voting periods rather than holding elections on just one day.
- Make election day a holiday.
- Provide states with federal resources and technical assistance without mandating procedures, which are a state power.
- Provide support to U.S. Postal Service so it will be able to manage the extra demands on service caused by voting by mail. (NOTE: the May Brews & Views guest will be Attorney Patrick Levine Rose who will talk about USPS funding, among other pressing Covid19-related topics.).
Ms. McQuade stressed that on-line voting is NOT secure and should not be used.
The final question of the evening, and a perfect capstone, was "What are the most effective steps individuals can do to ensure a good election?"
- Everyone should vote absentee and encourage their friends and family members to do likewise. In Michigan this is already an option thanks to the passage of Proposal 3 in 2018.
- Consider registering for permanent absentee voting; that way, your application for an absentee ballot will automatically be mailed to you before every election. Register for Permanent Absent Voter status by checking the highlighted box on this absentee ballot request form. Mail the form to your local clerk, whom you can find here.
- Mail your absentee ballot early to reduce stress on the postal system.
- Volunteer to be a poll worker -- they will still be needed.
- Educate people about elections and how to vote absentee. We can use phone banks, zoom chats, voter guides, technical help in using on-line services.
YOU CAN REQUEST YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT AT ANY TIME. You can learn more about absentee voting from the Secretary of State’s office.