While statewide lockdowns appeared to have reduced the transmission of COVID-19, the primary elections had no effect. Below, you can see the rate at which the virus spreads in Florida and Illinois, two populous states that held primaries in the early phase of the virus, throughout the spring. This is only two of the 34 states we looked at, but the effects on COVID-19 transmission in Florida and Illinois are representative of the overall average that we calculated across all of the states included in our analysis.
In other words, we found no evidence in our two separate analyses that the primaries had any effect on the spread of the coronavirus. That said, we should interpret these findings cautiously. There’s a lot we still don’t know about the coronavirus; moreover, tracking the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. has been challenging due to the aforementioned testing shortages and reporting delays. Additionally, we faced difficulties in uncovering certain aspects of the primaries — for example, there is no reliable data on in-person turnout at the county level.
In short, we did not find a spike in the mortality rate associated with the primary elections. This led us to conclude, based on our analysis, that in-person voting remains a viable way for Americans to have their voices heard this November.