COVID-19 disrupts primaries and could reshape November general election

Coronavirus disrupts primaries and could reshape November general election
Posted at 2:32 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 14:46:41-04

From schools to the economy, and now our democracy, the coronavirus is uprooting nearly all aspects of American’s lives.

Several states have postponed elections as a health precaution, and voting advocates are calling on government leaders to prepare for voting system adjustments in case the COVID-19 crisis continues into the November general election.

“For a lot of our registrars and election officials, they have been through some processes where they’re planning for emergencies. COVID-19 is adding a whole new layer,” said Kathay Feng.

Feng is the executive director of California Common Cause, a non-partisan organization dedicated to making voting more accessible.

With 30 states in the network, their election protection hotline is being flooded with calls.

“State by state, one of the biggest questions is going to be, what are my alternatives? If I can’t get to my polling place, how can I get my ballot in?” said Feng.

The organization is calling on Los Angeles County to send all registered voters a Vote-By-Mail ballot in the November General Election.

And a newly proposed bill by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D) would give all Americans the right to vote by mail if 25 percent of states declared an emergency related to the coronavirus. If passed, the measure would provide $500 million to fund the vote-by-mail efforts.

However, making that change quickly won’t be easy.

“You’ve got to print all the ballots, assemble them, make sure the right ballots are going to right people, and mail millions of ballots to people in Los Angeles alone,” said Feng.

Carl Luna, a political science professor at San Diego Mesa College, says it’s an issue Congress must address.

“Congress should probably have a national response to provide a big pot of money to every state, to be able to adjust their voting systems to deal with the pandemic, the way we’re doing it for economics and other issues,” said Luna.

And for the change to be successful, Luna says states would have to do an aggressive campaign to ensure everyone not only gets a ballot but is reminded to send it back in.

“Elections have to happen. Congress could postpone the November election, but by January 20, the president, under the Constitution, is
out of office, and you need to have a replacement in place,” said Luna.

He says if the November general election is postponed, it would be the first time in American history.

“If we can do it during the Civil War, we can do it now, we just need the resolve and funding to do it,” said Luna.

For now, voting advocates say they remain committed to helping Americans navigate the uncharted road ahead.

Anyone with questions about their state’s election can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Coronavirus Testing Sites - Kern County

View Testing Locations Map

State-Provided Sites
  • Must have an appointment
  • Free, but if have insurance they will bill
  • No screening criteria

Kern County Fairgrounds
1142 South P Street, Building 4, Access Gate 27

Rosamond Library
3611 Rosamond Blvd, Rosamond CA 93560

Arvin Public Health
204 S Hill Street, Arvin

Wasco Library
1102 7th Street

County-Provided Sites
  • Must have an appointment
  • Free
  • No screening criteria
  • Operating with existing provider

Oildale - Good Samaritan Hospital
901 Olive Drive, Bakersfield
  • For Registration call (661) 215-7725
  • Drive-Thru Only
  • Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am - 8 pm, Saturday 8 am - 12 pm

Ridgecrest - Ridgecrest Regional Hospital
1081 N. China Lake Blvd, Ridgecrest
  • For Registration: Text the word "testing" to 833-774-4968 Or Call 866-774-9984
  • Drive-Thru Only
  • Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 10:30 am

Delano - Delano Regional Medical Center
1401 Garces Hwy, Delano
  • No Drive-Thru option
  • Hours: Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm

Kern River Valley - Kern Valley Hospital
6412 Laurel Ave, Mt Mesa Wheelchair Logo
  • For Registration call (760) 379-2681 ext 267
  • Drive-Thru Only
  • Hours: Wednesday - Thursday from 7 am - 2 pm.
Tehachapi - Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley
1100 Magellan Dr 93561

Lamont - Kern County Library
8304 Segrue Road, Lamont, CA 93241
  • For registration call 661-869-6018
  • Drive-Thru and Walk-Up<
  • Testing available for ages 5+ only; parents must be present and give consent for children
  • Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 9 am - 2 pm; Tuesday, Thursday 2 pm - 7 pm

Taft - West Side Health Care District
  • For Registration call (661) 765-1935
  • Drive-Thru<
  • TTesting available for all ages; parents must be present and give consent for children
  • Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9 am – 1 pm & 3 pm – 7 pm; Saturday 11 am – 3 pm