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How could the pandemic play a role in the 2020 election?

Posted at 8:18 AM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 11:18:52-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — About 240,000 people in Kern County cast their votes for president in 2016. But how might the COVID-19 pandemic impact the 2020 vote?

“I think there’s going to be a lot of interesting details about what is affected, the debate, the way that rallies are or are not held," said Allen Bolarm Political science professor at Bakersfield College

Allen bolar is a political science professor at Bakersfield College, and he says the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to make the 2020 presidential election look different than others. Amid the pandemic, the election has been far from the top of mind for some, but some news coming from California Governor Gavin Newsom this month, as he required counties to send vote-by-mail ballots for the November general election to all registered voters.

“Part of the reason that people worry about mail-in ballots is that people worry it's a reason to use the electoral process to benefit a particular side," Bolar said.

But Bolar says the data shows that’s not true. In fact, he believes mail-in ballots are a positive thing because they tend to slightly increase voter turnout, which makes for a slightly more accurate depiction of what constituents feel. He says it also makes it easier for people to research candidates on the ballot.

“It’s harder to do when you go to the polling place because you have to fill it out there," he said.

There will still be an option to vote in person for those that want to. Bolar says the way the COVID-19 pandemic is handled by the Trump administration will no doubt play a role in America's vote come November, but a good amount of people are already decided.

“There’s like 10-15 percent of people who will probably be genuinely up in the air and we’ll have to kind of pay attention to the polls leading up to this summer," he said.

Bolar says president trump can actually benefit from the pandemic simply because he’s in the news so often, while Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee is not. Still, those 10-15 percent can be swayed if they don’t like what they see from Trump in the coming months.