“COVID-19 pandemic threatens US elections: The pandemic adds significantly to the risk of a contested result and a constitutional crisis, FIIA Briefing Paper”, Maria Annala (FIIA, Finland)

Voters’ trust in the American elections has eroded. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States, an alarming number of voters lacked confidence in the fairness of the upcoming elections.

Ensuring that Americans can vote safely despite the pandemic requires major changes to how the elections are conducted. This increases the risk of mistakes and failures, partisan feuds over the rules, and accusations of foul play.  If disputes over the practicalities of voting are prolonged, it could cause large-scale voter confusion and lead to a low turnout and high ballot rejection rates.

Many voters are likely to vote by mail to protect themselves from the virus. However, few states are adequately prepared to receive a large percentage of their ballots by mail. To make matters worse, the United States Postal Service is on the brink of collapse.

The result of the elections may be unclear for days or even weeks, firstly due to delays in counting the absentee ballots and thereafter because of litigation. This may result in both presidential candidates declaring themselves the winner and bring about an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

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