How is the Covid-19 Outbreak Affecting Elections Worldwide?

In addition to infecting hundreds of thousands and killing many people around the world, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a delay in numerous major events, including elections.

France Halted Local Elections Due to Coronavirus

France has decided to postpone the second round of the Paris mayoral election due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The stay-at-home order has been applied since March 17 and is set to last until the beginning of April.

As of March 22, the number of fatalities related to Covid-19 in France has reached 562 with 14,459 positive cases. The strict lockdown enforced by thousands of police across the country has barred people from leaving their homes except for emergencies.

South Korea’s Election Will Be Held as Scheduled

South Korea will not cancel a legislative vote on April 15. However, voters entering polling booths must wear face masks, as South Korea’s radio KBS reported.

South Korean Covid-19 patients can cast their votes either in hospitals or send their punctured papers via post. In contrast, voters with a high body temperature will vote in temporary stations. Customized polling booths in non-medical facilities for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms will also be provided.

Bolivia Suspends Election

Bolivia’s electoral court (TSE) announced it would postpone the country’s May election following the 14-day national quarantine due to the Covid-19 outbreak. There is no information on when the election will be held. However, TSE stated the date would be announced if all political entities in the Andean country approve of it.

All the country’s presidential candidates have suspended their campaigns for the last 15 days and refrained from issuing political statements on social media as the interim government led by Jeanine Anez is focusing on containing the coronavirus.

Bolivia is facing political turbulence after October’s protest demanding the resignation of Evo Morales due to vote-rigging allegations in the election that granted him a victory. Morales finally stepped down and is now in exile in Argentina. Last month, TSE disqualified Morales from running for the Senate, a decision the socialist leader slammed as a blow to democracy.

Will COVID-19 Postpone the US election?

Two weeks ago, U.S presidential candidates from the Democratic Party, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, canceled their campaigns scheduled for Cleveland, Ohio due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

“Out of concern for public health and safety, we are canceling tonight’s rally in Cleveland,” Sanders’ communication director stated in a statement quoted in NPR.

The Biden campaign’s deputy campaign manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield also said they were cancelling their rally. “In accordance with guidance from public officials and out of an abundance of caution, our rally in Cleveland, Ohio tonight is canceled. We will continue to consult with public health officials and public health guidance and make announcements about future events in the coming days. Vice President Biden thanks all of his supporters who wanted to be with us in Cleveland this evening.”

So far the pandemic has caused 13 states to postpone their polls. There have been no specific dates about when to hold ballots given health authorities have issued social distancing orders to tackle the spread of the virus that has killed more than 400 people in the U.S so far.

As of Sunday, March 22, several states such as Louisiana, Delaware, Ohio, and New Jersey which had imposed lockdowns, as USA Today reported. It is not certain whether the November election will be postponed or not amid unpredictable circumstances, although postponement remains unlikely.

COVID-19 Has Postponed Early Stages of Local Elections in Indonesia

Indonesia’s General Election Commission (KPU) has decided to upend several stages of simultaneous local elections indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of March 23, Covid-19 has infected 579 people and killed 49 others in Indonesia. The country recently opened an emergency hospital for coronavirus patients in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, and is preparing for rapid tests across the archipelago.