BY MOSES MATENGA

THE United States goes for elections early November amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, with experts saying measures have been taken to minimise possible spread of the disease.

Addressing more than 200 global journalists virtually, Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, said measures had been put in place to minimise crowding at polling booths.

COVID-19 has killed close to a million people globally and the US has been one of the most affected with over 200 000 deaths.

“We have much more mail-in voting and extended early voting than in any past presidential election year,” Rozell said, responding to questions on how the pandemic would affect the process.

“For reasons of public safety, many of the states have adopted these flexible procedures to ensure there are not long lines on election day; which would spread the virus if that happens,” he added.

The US has also instituted measures for effective media coverage of the election by virtual means as opposed to previous elections where global journalists travelled to cover physically.

This has happened through a virtual reporting tour of the United States and the American electoral process sponsored by the US Department of State’s Foreign Press Centres.
More than 225 journalists across the globe are taking part.

The eight-week coverage will include on-the-record Press briefings with political scientists, election experts, analysts, and pundits, and exclusive access to interviews, video and still photography from key battleground states across the United States.

November 3 has been set as the election day in the US, with incumbent Republican Donald Trump taking on Democratic Party’s Joe Biden.Biden was deputy to Barack Obama, who was succeeded by Trump as US President after his two terms.

The next president of the United States will formally be elected in December 2020 by the 538 members of the Electoral College, according to Rozell.

On the American electoral system, Rozell said: “An important facet of our electoral system to understand given the federalism nature of our Republic, we elect presidents state by state, we don’t have, as you know, a national popular vote for the presidency.”

There are 538 electors at the Electoral College, with 270 being the “magic number” as any candidate who passes that mark becomes president.

Liz Detmeister, director of the Foreign Press Centres in New York and Washington DC at the US Department of State, said: “The FPCs have a long history of providing briefings and reporting tours to explain aspects of our culture, history and policies. This year with the coronavirus pandemic, we have had to get creative.”

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