American senators have floated the possibility of November's presidential election being carried out purely by postal votes as the impacts of coronavirus on the campaign calendar begin to enter the spotlight.

Some have suggested that if the outbreak is still continuing later this year there could be no in-person voting at polling stations in what would be a remarkable break with historical precedent.

Other approaches have also been raised, such as electronic voting or increased use of absentee ballots so that the elderly who are most vulnerable to the virus could vote from home.


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There has even been loose talk from Democrats that United States President Donald Trump could push back the election date - despite the fact that he has made no public indication that he could do so.

State voting in the Democratic nomination race remains uncertain, with states pushing back their polls by months.

Even the political conventions now have new degrees of uncertainty attached to them. The Democrats are due to hold their Milwaukee gathering in July while the Republican convention is meant to happen in Charlotte, North Carolina, in August.

The presidential election on November 3 is still eight months away.


Not even the country's most senior health officials can predict with certainty the trajectory of the US outbreak, but that has not stopped politicians speculating.

Steny Hoyer, the second most senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, said: "If it comes to it, and we still have the virus... and best practice is being away from one another, disaggregated, then I think we ought to go to an election by mail."

He added: "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."


The suggestion is not without controversy. The impact on voter turnout and whether it would favour some demographics over others is untested.

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Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic senator from Connecticut, has suggested more absentee or remote voting could be used to make sure voting happens safely.

He has also talked about rethinking "how we can allocate space and distribute people so they're not standing next to each other in polling places".