Hoyer: November could turn into ‘election by mail’ due to coronavirus

Hoyer also says still 'no decision' on letting lawmakers vote from remote locations during coronavirus

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Last Updated:
March 24, 2020 - 9:21am

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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Monday that “no decision has been made” with regard to allowing lawmakers to vote from remote locations during the coronavirus pandemic, amid a breakout of the infection on Capitol Hill.

Last week, Hoyer (D-Md.) said that he expects the House to "adjust" its "voting procedures" to comply with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus recommendations on limiting the size of gatherings.

Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah) both announced last week that they have tested positive for coronavirus, or COVID-19. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) informed the public on Sunday that he had tested positive.

The Senate is debating a $1.8 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus package, and House Democrats are working on their own stimulus plan and must vote on it.

“It's a real concern for members and that is under consideration. No decision has been made but members are going to do their job," Hoyer said on Monday in response to a question from Just the News about remote voting, on a conference call with reporters.

“They’re going to take action when action is possible and we reach agreement. And there are a lot of ways we can do that. We're discussing them,” he added.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has asked the House Rules Committee to draft a report on alternate voting options but hasn't taken a position on remote voting yet.

Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, also rejected the idea of delaying the Nov. 3 general election.

“I hope that will not be necessary for a lot of reasons, frankly, but I don't think that's necessary, " he said.

However, Hoyer is open to the idea of voting by mail.

"If it comes to it, and we still have the virus ... and best practices is being away from one another, disaggregated, then I think we ought to go to an election by mail,” he said. “I think it's very, very important for the American people to be able to select as a commander in chief, particularly at the time when we have great challenges in our country, the person of their choice. So I would be opposed to delaying the November election.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and President Trump have suspended in-person campaigning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden has said he would not support a delay of the November election, a move that Congress would have to approve.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) recently told Just the News that states might need to consider alternate voting methods such as remote voting for the General Election if the virus continues to spread.