Voting by mail may be a public health necessity in 2020, and while Republicans have generally resisted vote-by-mail proposals in the past, they ought to rethink their opposition now. Consider some of the red states hardest hit by COVID-19, such as Florida and Louisiana. Should voters in those states not have safe access to voting, they will be less likely to vote. Pandemics are by no means partisan, but COVID-19 disproportionately affects older people, a cohort statistically more likely to vote Republican.
Fortunately, there is a simple fix available. Five states—Colorado, Oregon, Hawaii, Utah, and Washington—currently conduct their elections entirely by mail, and another 29 allow “no excuse-absentee” voting. In those states, voters can request a ballot be mailed to them, no questions asked. (In six of those states, voters can request to vote absentee permanently and are automatically mailed ballots each election. In the other 23 states, voters must request ballots each election.) Those ballots are then filled out by the voter and are either returned by mail or delivered to a secure ballot-collection location.
Amid our shared national emergency, “no-excuse absentee” voting could easily be extended in the remaining 16 states that require an excuse to vote absentee.