Do these challenges mean the idea of expanding the use of mail-in ballots for November should be abandoned? Absolutely not. There’s a lot that can be done to encourage the reform in a way that promotes democratic participation without risking disenfranchisement.
First, eliminate the requirement in more than a dozen states that voters must first produce an excuse for needing a mail-in ballot. Make it easy to request a ballot in the mail. A single statewide website for ballot requests is the most convenient.
Second, election officials should engage in an unprecedented effort to promote the use of mail ballots for any voters who feel more comfortable voting that way.
Third, states should begin immediately identifying polling places that will be large enough to accommodate voters in November without requiring them to stand in close proximity for long periods of time. And states need to recruit more poll workers who are a lower risk for infection.
Finally, the federal government and the states must provide additional funding to support these contingencies. Several hundred million dollars might be needed to ensure a smooth process in an election with staggeringly more mail ballots than the nation has ever seen.