This year, election officials—in Southwest Florida and around the nation—will face threats and challenges unlike any that most Americans have experienced in their lifetimes.
At the same time, never has a clean, efficient and fairly conducted election been more important. The 2020 election will be one of America’s most historic, shaping the nation’s future in as fundamental a way as the very first one in 1788. Given the stakes, the results—however they turn out—must be seen and accepted by all parties as legitimate and accurate.
What is more, Americans tend to think of election cycles as a force of nature, like the orbiting of the planets and the rising of the sun, always taking place as scheduled. Before this year, the only postponed primary in American history that this author could find was the New York mayoral primary scheduled for Sept. 11, 2001. This year, 15 states postponed their presidential preference primaries due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
So it’s essential to look ahead to the challenges that election officials and voters may face and how they’ve faced them, where history provides any guide.
This is not a complete list, by any means. There have always been questions about elections and there’s much potential for mischief in the mechanics of counting and recording votes. However, this year some unique threats stand out.