How to protect the election from coronavirus

Broaden access to voting by mail. As noted, most states already offer universal access to mail-in voting. It’s a good idea in general and encourages higher turnout. In the 2018 midterms, for example, states that permit voting by mail had, on average, a 15.5 percentage point higher turnout than states that did not.

No-excuse absentee bills have moved in three more states recently: Virginia, where a bill has passed and awaits Gov. Ralph Northam’s signature, as well as Delaware and New Hampshire. These states should move quickly to adopt this method of absentee voting.

The remaining states should join them, and if they can’t — for example, because a constitutional amendment is required, as is the case in New York — should consider designating the declaration of a statewide public health emergency as a permissible reason for requesting an absentee ballot.

If things get so bad that in-person voting becomes impractical, then states may even consider conducting elections almost entirely by mail, as is already done in Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Maryland is investigating the possibility of such a switch.