Mar 19, 2020 - Health

FEC commissioner recommends voting by mail to safeguard against coronavirus

In this image, a group of hands point at an "I Voted" sticker

Illustration: Sara Grillo/Axios

Americans should vote in the 2020 general election by mail if physically going to the polls remains unsafe due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Ellen Weintraub, commissioner of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), said in a statement on Thursday.

What she's saying: "No one knows what the coronavirus situation will be when America votes this November. The U.S. government has the duty to prepare for the worst. And it can. But only if it acts now."

  • "Voting by mail offers the best path. Making vote-by-mail broadly available will not solve every election-related challenge this year, but it is a necessary and urgent beginning," Weintraub wrote.
  • "No one should have to risk their life — or the lives of their loved ones — to cast their vote."

Where it stands: Seven states have delayed primaries or caucuses in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Thursday that the state is rescheduling its 2020 primary to June 2.

The other side: The FEC "has no jurisdiction over the administration of elections, including whether states decide to offer mail-in ballots," Republican FEC chair Caroline Hunter told Axios.

  • "I hope my colleague will cease misleading the American people about the role of the FEC in American elections, particularly during this unprecedented crisis," Hunter said, referring to Weintraub.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Ellen Weintraub is the commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, not the chairperson, and Hunter is an FEC chair.