Here is Why Louisiana and Georgia Should Not Have Suspended Elections

March 15, 2020 0 By Michael
Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

In response to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world, the states of Louisiana and Georgia have suspended their primaries slated for this month. Lousiana moved its primary back to April 4, and Georgia moved its primary election day to May.

Is it necessary to suspend election dates in light of the risk of people to people transmission of the Covid-19 virus?

I do not believe state officials charged with conducting elections have to panic in the current health crisis because they have at there disposal an excellent method to hold elections while keeping to the CDC’s recommendation of maintaining “social distancing.”

That tool is the absentee ballot. It is well settled that any citizen who will be absent from his or her voting precinct on election day, can forego a personal appearance and request an absentee ballot.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

I know there are those citizens who enjoy casting their ballot in person. My late father-in-law got out of his hospital bed, so pale he was mistaken for a white man, in 1992 to walk up the steps at the Walker County, Georgia courthouse to cast his ballot for Bill Clinton. He said he simply could not abide another day of George Herbert Walker Bush in the White House. Within three weeks, he would succumb to his last illness secure in the fact that in a few months, Bush would vacate the White House. He voted, as he always had done, in person. We could not convince him that an absentee ballot would serve the same purpose.

Absentee balloting is available to all states. In many respects, the security of the ballot safely preserved because voters have a paper ballot. Therefore, there is a paper trail and less opportunity for Russian hackers to attack computerized voting systems that if successful could alter the outcome of the Presidential election.

Perhaps, more states will consider this invaluable tool at their disposal before suspending their elections in the future.

Harold Michael Harvey is the author of Freaknik LawyerA Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s REThomas Civil Rights Award, which he received for his pro bono representation of Black college students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s. An avid public speaker, contact him at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com.