First, initial steps need to be taken to expand postal voting or absentee ballot programs, for instance, by removing requirements that voters offer one of several specified excuses to justify their need for an absentee ballot. Military personnel have had access to voting by mail for decades, as have certain other voters across the United States. Five states successfully conduct their elections entirely by mail, and 21 use postal ballots for local elections. To ensure that voters can exercise their franchise in November without jeopardizing public health, all states should move now to permit universal voting by mail and provide for the time and capacity to process the ballots in a secure and orderly manner.

Second, Congress needs to supply states with ample resources to implement these changes successfully. Federal lawmakers should work with state election officials to devise solutions that preserve the integrity of elections and guarantee that all eligible voters can participate. Congress must also shore up the ailing postal service, whose workers have been reporting for duty under hazardous conditions throughout the present crisis, so that it can perform its vital role in the fall.

Third, provisions should be made well in advance for people unable to vote by mail because of disability or other reasons, or who choose to vote in person.