Voters can safely vote in-person in the upcoming election if proper precautions are followed, according to a top infectious disease expert.
“I think if carefully done, according to the guidelines, there’s no reason that I can see why that not be the case,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an event broadcast Thursday.
“For example, when you look at going to a grocery store now in many regions and counties and cities that are doing it correctly, they have X’s every six or more feet. And it says, ‘Don’t leave this spot until the person in front of you left their spot.’ And you can do that, if you go and wear a mask, if you observe the physical distancing, and don’t have a crowded situation, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do that,” he added, after being asked about in-person voting at the National Geographic event.
However, some people shouldn’t risk being exposed to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, according to the doctor.
“I mean, obviously if you’re a person who is compromised physically or otherwise, you don’t want to take the chance,” Fauci said. “There’s the situation of mail-in voting that has been done for years in many places. So there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to vote in person or otherwise.”
The remarks came after Fauci declined to say he recommended in-person voting, telling the Washington Post that any answer he gave would “almost certainly … be used as a sound bite.”
“It’s a sport now in Washington to pit me against the president and I don’t really want to do that,” Fauci said. “But someone will take a quote and bingo, it’ll be me against the president and I don’t want to do that.”
However, he continued, polling places should take measures similar to those taken by grocery stores and other businesses.
“We see a big X and then six feet away is another big X speed away is another big X,” Fauci said. “I don’t see any reason why, if people maintain that type of physical distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands – why you cannot, at least where I vote, go to a place and vote.”
President Donald Trump has repeatedly said in recent weeks that he opposes widespread voting by mail, which some states are implementing amid the pandemic.
Trump, a Republican, told reporters at the White House on Thursday that “one of the reasons the Post Office needs that much money is they have all of these millions of ballots coming in from nowhere, and nobody knows from where and where they’re going.”
Referring to 500,000 sketchy ballot applications sent out to Virginia voters recently, and to the debacle in the New York Democratic primary, Trump said that without funding, he doesn’t see how the U.S. Postal Service could possibly process the volume of mail-in ballots that are expected in the presidential election.
People “are going to have to feel safe, and they will be safe, and we will make sure that they’re safe,” he added about in-person voting.
“We want people to vote so when they vote, it means one vote; it doesn’t mean ballots all over the place.”
Some experts and lawmakers said they feared in-person voting would lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths in Wisconsin in April, but that hasn’t appeared to be the case.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a recent report (pdf) that “no clear increase in cases, hospitalizations, or deaths was observed after the election, suggesting possible benefit of the mitigation strategies, which limited in-person voting and aimed to ensure safety of the polling sites open on election day.”