Many states and localities are looking to broaden voting by mail to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, which may spike again by November. The argument for doing so is straightforward: Many states already conduct voting entirely by mail, with no major fraud, and the pandemic may well make remote voting the only way for voters to participate without risking their lives.
Against this argument, President Trump has made phantasmal and hysterical warnings that Democrats will systematically abuse the mail-voting system. He has secondarily argued that voting in person is an “honor” that people should want to do (even though Trump himself and many of his high-level officials personally vote by mail). Now, his counselor Kellyanne Conway offers a new rationale for forcing people to vote in person: If you can stand in line for a cupcake, you can stand in line to vote:
Conway’s observation that people sometimes wait an hour at Georgetown Cupcake is true. But while many people are willing to stand in line for an hour for a cupcake, not everybody is. And an important thing about voting is that it’s something everybody is supposed to be able to do. Some people might be physically daunted at the prospect of standing for an hour. More people might have trouble finding an hour of time to wait on one particular Tuesday when they are probably working. That is to say, if you opened Georgetown Cupcake only on November 3, a large number of people who might be willing to go there when they have the time to do so would not be able to make it that particular day, especially if it required a long wait.
Additionally, even some people who like cupcakes are not willing to stand in line an hour to get one. I personally have an enormous sweet tooth, and have at least once walked past Georgetown Cupcake when I’m looking for a treat, but have been deterred by the line.
An even more relevant fact is that Georgetown Cupcake is currently closed due to the coronavirus. It is unsafe to stand in a long line and then walk through a confined indoor space close to other people. It might very well be even more unsafe in November. Forcing people to choose between their safety and exercising their constitutional rights is a monstrous position. It does not become any less so simply because some other people are willing to stand in line when it is convenient to do so and there is not a deadly global pandemic.