Rural America votes during pandemic

November 1st, 2020 | Chabella Guzman

Heading to the polls in rural America will be a different experience this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has many voters casting their votes early, and that offers potential shorter lines on election day. Johnathan Hladik, policy director at the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Neb., points out, voting during a pandemic means that poll workers have additional burdens of keeping voters safe.

“For those of you who are going to vote in person, I think you are going to see people ready to take some precautions. I know that you are going to see a lot of masks,” he said. “Poll workers right now are being trained to provide a sanitary environment, to provide space in the line, to provide a situation where people can feel safe and comfortable going.”

Hladik will be a poll worker himself and said even with early voting, dont expect a quick outcome with election results once the polls close Tuesday night.  If a state can start counting early, they will, but in a lot of states ballots have to be count that night.

“I think it’s very reasonable to expect across the nation at least a few states to not make decisions until Wednesday morning, and perhaps even later unless it’s an absolute landslide either way,” Hladik said.

A record national voter turnout this year is happeing with a lot of excitement.

“We’re already above 50 percent of the absolute total vote in 2016, and some projections show that we are going to beat that amount by ten, or even 20 or even 30 million individuals,” he said.

Historically, rural areas have voted more Republican and tend to be more conservative. The question that will get answered Tuesday is how rural America will vote.

“It’s been a pretty tough four years for farmers. Most farmers are worse off today than they were four years ago. I’ll be interested to see if that does affect the rural vote and if so by how much,” Hladik said.

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