Fauci says in-person election with distancing, masks is safe

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US coronavirus expert, said this week he believed in-person in November would be safe so long as masks were worn and social distancing measures were followed.
  • For “compromised” individuals at a higher risk for coronavirus infection, Fauci said people should vote by mail.
  • While states have amped up their efforts to expand mail-in-voting, President Donald Trump has positioned himself as a staunch opponent over his unsubstantiated concerns about voter fraud.
  • “So there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to vote in person or otherwise,” Fauci said.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this week he believed Americans should be able to safely cast a ballot in-person, so long as they follow necessary social distancing protocols.

“I think if carefully done, according to the guidelines, there’s no reason that I can see why that not be the case,” he told ABC News’ Deborah Roberts during a National Geographic event Thursday.

Fauci compared the safety of casting a ballot in person to that of an in-person shopping trip to the grocery store in “counties and cities that are doing it correctly.”

“They have X’s every six or more feet,” he added. “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.”

Fauci, who has been at the center of the US response to the coronavirus but has also faced the ire of President Donald Trump, who has called the infectious disease expert an “alarmist.” Fauci earlier this year said he wasn’t sure whether it would be safe for Americans to head to the polls in November.

For people who are at greater risk of serious complications from COVID-19, Fauci said Thursday voters could cast their ballot by mail.

“I mean, obviously if you’re a person who is compromised physically or otherwise, you don’t want to take the chance,” he said.

He continued: “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.”

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has so far infected at least 5,324,930 people in the US, a growing number of states have expanded their mail-in voting programs so Americans can cast their ballot without fear of contracting the novel coronavirus.

Trump has been a fierce opponent of state efforts to expand mail-in-voting due to the coronavirus pandemic and said earlier this week he wouldn’t support a bailout to struggling USPS in an attempt to quash attempts to bolster mail-in-voting. He later backtracked and said he wouldn’t reject a stimulus package that included a USPS bailout.

The president has argued that voting by mail comes with a risk of widespread voter fraud, although there is little to no evidence to suggest that’s true.

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