U.S. Election 2020 – Don’t Let COVID-19 Misinformation Suppress Your Vote
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, another pandemic of sorts took root—this one an “infodemic.” Whether designed to mislead, instill fear, capitalize on crank remedies, or push phony cures that caused harm or worse, millions of outright false stories about COVID-19 proliferated across the internet. And continue to do so.
Now, with our upcoming election in the U.S., there’s concern that this infodemic of misinformation about COVID-19 will keep people away from the polls or from working at them. Particularly elders.
With this blog, my aim is to point you toward trustworthy resources online that can help you get your vote cast and counted safely.
COVID-19 misinformation is on the rise
First, a word about COVID-19 misinformation in general.
Since the initial outbreak, we’ve monitored online threats and scams related to COVID-19. As shown in our July 2020 Threat Report, the first three months saw the number of malicious and scam websites related to COVID-19 jump from 1,600 to more than 39,000, along with a wave of spam emails and posts that peddled bogus sites for protective gear, masks, and cures. Now, in mid-September, our threat detection team has uncovered three million online threats related to COVID-19 and counting. (See the daily tally here for the latest figures.)
Elsewhere, global and national public health officials have worked diligently to counter these waves of misinformation, such as the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 “mythbuster” site, in addition to further mythbusting from major news outlets around the world and yet more mythbusting from respected science publications. However, instances of misinformation, both big and small, persist and can lead to negative health consequences for those who buy into such misinformation.
Resources for voting safely
Whether you’ll vote in person or by mail, these links provide a mix of trustworthy information about voting and the latest verified information about the virus:
- vote.org COVID-19 Page: This is a one-stop site that provides voting resources and information on a state-by-state basis. Here you’ll find the official voter information for your state, links to your state’s election website, and the means to request an absentee or mail-in ballot (as allowed) by your state.
- The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Site: The focus of this site is how to protect yourself and others and includes the latest information on how COVID-19 spreads, how to select and use a mask, how to practice effective social distancing, and more. The site also covers activities and going out, which are applicable to voters heading to the polls.
- The World Health Organization COVID-19 Site: This site offers further advice and resources for preventing the spread of COVID-19, along with staying well both physically and mentally.
- Verified by the United Nations: Verified is a daily or weekly briefing that you can sign up for through the U.N., which contains “content you can trust: life-saving information, fact-based advice, and stories from the best of humanity.”
Be aware that our collective understanding of COVID-19 continues to evolve. The pandemic isn’t even a year old at this time, and new research continues to reveal more about its nature. Be sure to check with these resources along with your local public health resources for the latest on the virus and how to stay safe.
How to Vote by Mail in All 50 States
If you’re considering voting by mail, the following is for you. Published by U.S. News and World Report, this article breaks down how you can vote by mail in your state. While all 50 states allow for mail-in voting in some form or fashion, specifics vary, and some states make it easier to do than others. (For example, a handful of states like Texas, Indiana, and Louisiana currently do not allow COVID-19 concerns as a valid reason for requesting a mail-in ballot.)
Note that this article was published at the end of August, so be sure to follow the links for your state as published in the article for the absolute latest information. Yet don’t wait to look into your absentee or mail-in options. As noted above, each state has its terms and deadlines, so it’s best to review your options now.
Meanwhile, five states— Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington state, and Utah already conduct their elections entirely by mail. Such practices have proven to be successful alternatives to voting in person, they have slightly increased voter turnout while minimizing the risks of voter fraud.
Follow trusted resources and vote safely this year
Get your vote out safely. Whether it’s by visiting the polls following the safety guidelines or by way of mail as also allowed by your state, it can be done—particularly when you have trusted information sources at hand.