WASHINGTON – After more than a year and a half of campaigning, eight months of primaries and caucuses, more than two dozen candidates, 11 debates, six months of coronavirus pandemic, and two conventions, the 2020 presidential election is now only two months away.
But there are still four debates and tens of millions of votes to count before the country will know whether President Donald Trump will serve a second term, or Democratic challenger Joe Biden will succeed in taking the White House.
Here is a look at what you need to know for the next two months of the campaign:
The ongoing pandemic is having a huge impact on the 2020 contest, influencing how citizens are considering voting and affecting separate issues voters most care about.
The U.S. has 6.1 million confirmed cases and over 186,000 deaths. Globally, there are 26 million cases and more than 864,000 people have died.
Is mail-in voting safe?
The pandemic led some states to delay or cancel their primary elections out of concerns about spreading the infection.
All voters in at least 44 states will be able to vote by mail in the elections in November as absentee voting was expanded for safety reasons during the coronavirus pandemic. Nine states and the District of Columbia plan to mail ballots to all registered voters without them needing to request one.
Vote by mail? Democratic group warns Trump may use it to prematurely declare victory even if he’s losing
Trump has since turned mail-in voting into a political issue, claiming it will open the door to increased voter fraud, even though few experts believe mailed-in ballots are likely to lead to widespread fraud.
The president has already declared the election “rigged” on more than one occasion and even once suggested delaying the election.
On Thursday, a day after Trump suggested supporters in North Carolina should both mail-in ballots and vote in person to test “if the system is as good as they say it is,” the state’s Board of Elections issued a statement telling voters it is illegal to vote in an election twice.
North Carolina elections chief says ‘It is illegal to vote twice in an election’ after Trump comment on double voting
Some experts have expressed concerns about the rhetoric given that a surge in mail-in ballots will take longer to count on Nov. 3. Democrats worry misleading signals could emerge on election night if Trump builds an initial lead with in-person votes even if he lags Biden on mail ballots.
They fear Trump, who claims mail voting is rife with fraud, might try to cast doubt on the validity of uncounted mail ballots, setting the stage for chaos and lengthy legal battles in the aftermath of the election.
Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas are the only states where absentee voting will not be available to all voters but limited to those who meet qualifications such as being 65 or older, disabled, a military member, or out of town on Election Day.
What issues are most important to voters?
According to research by Pew Research Center, 79% of voters say the economy will be an important issue when voting. The economy was also a top issue in 2016.
More than 833,000 Americans sought unemployment assistance last week as parts of the economy remained shuttered and millions who are out-of-work have gone more than a month without an extra $600 in federal jobless aid that expired under the CARES Act.