ELECTION SEASON 2020
By Richard Davis
No handshaking and very few face-to-face encounters. Those are some of the major changes to political campaigning during a pandemic. The use of social media will be valuable as we head toward the first Tuesday in November.
Money will still rule because advertising on all levels gets a candidate’s name out there and television, print and other media ads do work. But there is also a potential for lower voter turnout because people may not be bombarded with the usual campaign activity of former years.
My hope is that, on the national level at least, voter turnout will be high because a majority of sensible Americans want to end the great American nightmare and make America sane again.
Talking to people in other countries it is clear that they sympathize with Americans who are ashamed that their country could elect such an incompetent and unqualified leader. When I was in Kenya a few years ago I had a conversation with some local men who acknowledged the American national disgrace of having Trump as president. They tried to reassure me that it will be over soon and that we will be able to move on. That is my hope.
If the U.S. is to have elections that provide for personal safety from pandemic spread it is vital that states maximize voting by mail. Many states already have a variety of types of mail-in voting and this method has proven to be accurate and as free of fraud and cheating as any other method of voting.
When you hear critics of mail-in voting hide behind the tampering issue it is almost always Republicans who want to decrease voter turnout because they know that more voters usually means more Democrat votes. What you don’t hear enough of are the benefits of vote by mail.
It would be pretty close to impossible for foreign countries to tamper with mail-in votes. The security systems in place would easily defend against a flood of bogus voters because of the verification processes that would be used. Unless Russian spies were hired to count ballots, the counting process would also be secure.
Vermont is one of the easiest states to stay away from the public polls and still vote. You can request an absentee ballot, by mail or in person, from the town clerk and do not have to give a reason for your request. Filling out a ballot at the town office and voting right there as I did last week is one of the great benefits of life in Vermont. Almost as safe as voting from home with just me and the town clerk both wearing masks.
Vermont has two statewide political contests of note. David Zuckerman, the current Democrat/Progressive Lt. Governor, is running for governor and vacating his current post means a flood of candidates looking to take over his spot.
I think that Tim Ashe, also a Democrat/Progressive, state senator from Chittenden County is the best person to fill the vacancy to be left by Zuckerman. Ashe has served as the President Pro Tem of the Senate and has shown clear leadership on a number of issues. The move to Lt. Governor would be an easy transition and Vermonters would be well served by Ashe.
Zuckerman is facing a field of candidates in the August 11 primary and I think he is the most qualified of the lot to unseat incumbent Republican Governor Phil Scott. Zuckerman has worked on issues important to Vermonters for many years as a state senator and as Lt. Governor.
But it is nearly impossible to unseat an incumbent governor in Vermont.
The pandemic is complicating the election process and Scott is hiding behind his work on the pandemic to keep away from campaigning. He is using the pandemic to his best political advantage because politicians do that sort of thing.
While it must be admitted that he is doing a good job dealing with the pandemic, it does not mean he cannot do more than one thing at a time. A governor who serves all of the people has to be a multi-tasker. Scott is not a one-trick pony and he surely can squeeze in enough campaigning to make the process seem fair and balanced.
Zuckerman has proven that he can do a number of things well simultaneously and, although his win would be a major upset, I am hoping for more equitable policies relating to jobs and the economy, health care, the environment, education and a host of other issues upon which Scott has not acted in the best interest of a majority of Vermonters.