The push for mail-in primaries during the pandemic

Published: Apr. 1, 2020 at 2:54 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Hand sanitizer, social distancing and face masks. A new reality at the polls during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some voters wanted to cast their ballot in last month’s Florida primary - but they couldn’t .

“Not that I don’t think voting is or was important.” Sydney Griesmar, a Florida resident said.

A nursing student, Griesmar is busy with her classes transitioning online, and her part-time job put on hold.

"It’s just with everything going on right now, it got pushed to the back of my mind," Griesmar said. "In my opinion, I really think they should have done something else.”

In an effort to keep people at home, some states are postponing upcoming primaries. Others are allowing voters to mail in their ballots.

The move isn’t only about keeping voters healthy but also engaged, according to Nick Troiano with Unite America, an organization that pushes for election reform.

“When you actually can participate from home, you’ll actually become a more informed and engaged voter," Troiano said. "Because you can take the time to do the research necessary to cast an informed ballot.”

But some legal experts want to make sure mail in ballots are getting into the right hands.

“Simply sending unsolicited ballots means ballots may show up at residences where that person no longer lives," said Hans von Spakovsky, a legal expert with the Heritage Foundation. "There may be a temptation by people who are there to vote that ballot.”

Gray DC reached out to both the Republican and Democratic National Committees about the mail-in elections.

"No one should have to put their health and safety at risk in order to exercise their constitutional rights at the ballot box," The DNC said in an op-ed pushing for mail-in elections.

The RNC voiced support as well, but with caution about moving to mail-in systems due to practices like ballot-harvesting, where volunteers collect the ballots in person.

"The RNC also encourages states to prohibit ballot harvesting, as it both creates an opportunity for election fraud and undercuts the public health benefits of any increase in voting by mail," said an RNC spokesperson.

President Trump opposes voting by mail, arguing that it would encourage fraud.

To find out if you can receive a mail-in ballot for your primary, visit

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