Will COVID-19 influence 2020s elections?

Local political groups give their opinions

By Cory L. Higgs

This is slated to be a big year in politics, with many seats in the House and Senate up for grabs, along with the presidency.

The intrusion of COVID-19 has complicated an already turbulent year for politics. The novel coronavirus has caused many facets of life to come to a screeching halt, with politics among the pandemic’s impacts.

Wren Williams, chairman of the Patrick County Republican Committee, said the virus has had detrimental impacts on the party and its ability to operate.

“It has postponed our district, state, and national conventions. It has caused our June Primary to be pushed back from June 9 until June 23. We have not been able to actively campaign and register voters like we were doing. It’s just been difficult all around,” he said of working around COVID-19.

Janet Demiray, chairman of the Patrick County Democrats, is also feeling the hit. Demiray said that the group handed out meeting invitations at the March 10 presidential primary; however, that meeting never came to fruition due to COVID-19.

“But that doesn’t mean that we are sitting still. Our goal remains the same: to elect Joe Biden President and reelect Senator Mark Warner. Safety is the priority, but it’s also important that the process of selecting the Democratic Party’s candidate for President be done in a way that allows participation at the grassroots level and is consistent with the goals and values of the Democratic Party,” said Demiray.

Both

New COVID-19 cases identified Sunday,

first phase of local reopening underway

and Demiray said their meetings have ceased, but they noted that as portions of Virginia reopen, long-term absentee voting may be a valuable tool for Americans wanting to exercise their rights while staying in the safety of their home.

Williams said he is in favor of absentee, no reason voting.

Demiray said voting via mail with an absentee ballot is the safest option. She cited many states with a high number of absentee voting. However, Virginia’s mail-in voting was around 6 percent in the last election.

“The General Assembly has passed, and the governor signed, several new laws that will make voting easier: repealing the voter ID law, expanding access to early voting and no-excuse absentee voting, and making Election Day a state holiday,” she said, adding that anyone voting before the changes take effect on July 1 can request an absentee ballot and check the “2A-‘My illness or disability” to vote absentee since “no reason” voting will not take effect until July,after the May and June elections.

Williams praised Republican leaders and the President for their efforts in flattening the curve of infection of COVID-19.

“I think that Ralph Northam has completely overstepped his authority and continues to act as a dictator of Virginia, not a governor,” adding he believes that Northam lacks the authority to close businesses and travel as governor, Williams said. He also cited the governor’s actions passing legislation during the pandemic.

“Gov. Northam is making these decisions based on science and expert advice. One expert likened reopening not to a light switch that is turned off and on, but to a dimmer, which can gradually increase the light until the economy is fully open, with necessary safeguards,” Demiray  said, adding that the governor has relied on science and data for his decision making.”

They share a belief that the virus will impact the highly contested presidential election in November, but differ on the aspects.

“I think that people will be eager and ready to turn out and vote for Donald Trump,” Williams said.

“The response of our elected leaders to what may be the most serious challenge faced by the United States since World War II should, and will, be the most important issue in the 2020 elections,” Demiray said.

You can find both the Patrick County Republican Committee and the Patrick County Democrats on Facebook to stay up to date with their events.

The following are the contested positions up for election in November:

• 435 seats in the U.S House of Representatives

• 35 of 100 seats in the U.S Senate

• President of the U.S

• 13 state and territorial governorships

• Various state and local elections

Check with your local registrar’s office to stay up to date with election deadlines and procedures on all upcoming elections. To check your registration status, visit vote.org.

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