We Can, and Must, Hold a Safe and Fair Election in November

Statement by Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jul 30, 2020

WASHINGTON (July 30, 2020)—In a tweet today, President Donald Trump suggested that the 2020 general election should be delayed. This is the latest in an ongoing pattern of misinformation from the president that could mislead voters and undermine public trust in democracy, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of UCS.

“The president is simply wrong. There’s no rationale to delay the election—and mail-in voting is a proven way to hold a free and fair election that will significantly protect voters from the risks of COVID-19.

“The president has absolutely no power to delay an election. The Constitution is clear: election dates are set by Congress, and the current presidential term ends in January of 2021.

“We need to look past idle threats and actually work to make sure the November election is safe and fair, giving every voter a chance to participate without having to risk their health. We know that states need to implement online and same-day registration, ample in-person early voting to reduce long lines on Election Day, and mail-in balloting with no excuse required, and that the federal government should fully fund state election infrastructure. These reforms increase turnout without increasing risk of fraud or benefiting one party over another.

“The Senate’s recently released COVID recovery bill doesn’t offer states any additional funding to support the steps needed to hold a safe election. Any congressional efforts to provide relief during this time must include election funding to protect voters and help them exercise their rights.

“Delaying an election would subvert democracy and cause unprecedented chaos. But if we act now, we can prevent voters from having to choose between their health and their right to participate in the election.”

UCS fellow Michael Latner released a report this month identifying the policies needed to hold a safe election during a pandemic. Latner and UCS Executive Director Kathleen Rest are co-signers of an open letter asking state and federal governments to immediately implement reforms to protect public health and the right to vote.