Democracy 2020 Digest: States embrace mail-in voting as coronavirus upends elections

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While more than 10 states with upcoming presidential nominating contests have postponed their elections due to the coronavirus outbreak, three states scheduled to hold primaries and caucuses on April 4 are not delaying the dates of their contests. But the states – Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming — will not allow any in-person casting of ballots and instead will be 100 percent vote by mail.

Hawaii Democrats had always expected that most of the voting in its party-run presidential primary would be by mail. Now that’s the only option. The state party recently announced that it has nixed plans for in-person voting at 21 polling sites across Hawaii. The party had already mailed out two rounds of ballots and will now put out a third round as well. They also pushed back the deadline to register to vote in the primary to April 4. The party stressed, “Safety comes first during this challenging time.”

Hawaii Democrats says it won’t have primary results until May. The Alaska Democratic Party – which, like Hawaii, is holding a party-run presidential primary – also scrapped its April 4 in-person voting. The party extended the date a mailed-in ballot needed to be postmarked from March 24 to April 10. Ballots had already been mailed to all Alaska Democrats but the party now says ballots can also bet downloaded from its website.


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