EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here. The Nation believes that helping readers stay informed about the impact of the coronavirus crisis is a form of public service. For that reason, this article, and all of our coronavirus coverage, is now free. Please subscribe to support our writers and staff, and stay healthy
The coronavirus pandemic poses a terrifying threat to life and a staggering test to our leaders. The unseemly spectacle of lawmakers scrambling to craft a response in the midst of a corporate lobbying feeding frenzy reveals that neither the president nor the legislators yet comprehend the scope of the action needed. The focus, naturally, has been on how to mobilize to meet health-care needs, help Americans survive an economic calamity that is no fault of their own, and revive the economy without letting Wall Street and corporate lobbies steal us blind. But we must not forget this virus’s threat to democracy itself: Any reform package must include dramatic steps to guarantee that Americans can vote this fall. It is time for Congress to pass universal vote-at-home (better known as vote-by-mail) legislation.
The virus’s toll on our election system is already plain to see. Several states have postponed their primaries. In states that went ahead, voters increasingly were wary of going to the polls. Many states shut down polling places, moving them out of nursing homes and other places at risk. Many scrambled to find polling workers, as elderly volunteers chose not to risk their lives.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.