Election and COVID-19

As you all know, there was a little bit of political instability happening in Sabah leading to a snap election. I don’t want to talk much about politics, let them settle their stuff. 

As a person working in the field of microbiology, people would expect my views on the election will be a total “No”. 

“The pandemic is still going on” 

“It is not wise to hold a snap election in this pandemic era” 

“Think about the people. Dont risk people live for the election”. 

These are some of the comments I have been reading in social media. 

My views is actually on the opposite of these. It was shockingly not as everyone else expect. 

In my opinion, if the election is required, do not stop it because of COVID-19. Fighting for democracy will be harder than fighting the virus. People should not be stopped to vote. It is the only thing that keeps us civilised. We could go back to the stone age with this pandemic. Even though we are living in a cave with no electricity, but if we still have the power to choose or vote, we are still considered as civilised civilisation. 

On the other hand, now is the time to observed the new norm. 

Are we able to exercise democracy during the pandemic? Is it impossible? What if this pandemic prolonged until 4-5 years? Will all democracy be thrown to the dustbin for the sake of pandemic? Will those power hungry people be let loose at their own will and do what ever they want? Will a dictator be accepted because of the pandemic? 

The answer to all of that is no. However, due to the pandemic, there must be a special measure to be taken. 

The usual preventive measures which is free: 

1. Hygiene and hand washing

2. Physical distancing / prevent overcrowded area.

3. Wearing mask

Wabak Coronavirus atau COVID-19
Source: infosihat.gov.my

Additional measure should include that require more resources: 

1. Prevent home to home visit for campaign. 

2. Prevent gathering for campaign speech. 

3. Use social media or online video call. 

4. If public speech need to be held, record all the attendees' details for contact tracing. 

5. Screening at the poll station (temperature, observed SOP).

6. Live online vote counting instead of big ceremonies after the election process has been completed. 

I do believe, that we need to continue human civilisation on top of the pandemic. If we gave up, we could be going back to stone age all over again. We also need to forget our dreams for the day without covid, because I believe that this virus will stay and it will stay for sometime. 

Hoping for the day without covid is like hoping to win a lottery. We may or may not get it. 

In conclusion, election / exercise of democracy should not be prevented in the midst of pandemic. The important thing is to educate people on how to follow the preventive measure. Not only those politician now need to be campaigning for their camp, the health care worker also need to be campaigning. With all the measures, I believe everything will be going on smoothly. 

p/s: If we can apply blockchain technology, we can actually create an online poling. The data will not be able to altered once it was registered and it was very safe for poling. But, need further research on that. 

Further reading: 

1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/election-polling-locations.html

2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13669877.2020.1765003

3. http://aceproject.org/covid-19

4. https://www.idea.int/news-media/multimedia-reports/global-overview-covid-19-impact-elections


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