The Atlantic

The Looming Threat to Voting in Person

Amid a push for mail-in balloting, states still need a better strategy for safety at the polls.
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The daunting logistics of holding an election during a pandemic were on display in Kentucky on Tuesday, as voters in the state’s primary made their way to just 170 polling places—down from 3,700 before the coronavirus arrived. Considering the logistical challenges of social distancing, record absentee-ballot requests, and uncertainties about whether officials could recruit sufficient poll workers, observers on the ground judged the election to be surprisingly well run. Even then, some voters in Lexington faced two-hour waits, and an afternoon traffic jam in Louisville prompted a judge to order the reopening of a polling place after hours.

Kentucky’s experience was yet another reminder that the presidential election in November will be held under radically changed circumstances. As the pandemic has unfolded, an expansion of mail balloting has become the central focus of reformers, state lawmakers, and the litigants in voting-rights cases. But Americans will most likely still go to the polls on Election Day, and many of them will go to polling places that are

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