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Pandemic is changing the reality of this year's election

The candidates have to keep moving forward and use the time they have left.

ATLANTA — With just 46 days until the November election, Democrats and Republicans are vying for voters to get out to the polls, or mail their ballots in on time.

But political scientists in Georgia say the pandemic and fears about voting are presenting unique challenges this year.

Political scientists at Emory University say the presidential campaigns need to recognize that this will be the reality of the election -- pandemic, mail-in voting, election lawsuits -- the candidates have to keep moving forward and use the time they have left.

"These decisions cannot be held off any longer. They can't be waiting for some change in the course of the pandemic," said Dr. Bernard Fraga of Emory University. "Or for county or state election officials to change the way they run elections."

Fraga says the presidential candidates need to accept the reality of what voting will look like in 2020 -- and motivate their base to execute it.

Whatever that means; getting out to the polls in person, or educating them in how to send a mail-in ballot, voters have be empowered to make their choice.

"Registration has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic," Fraga said. "Many of these groups thought it might be over by the end of the summer, but now, they're forced to do online drives instead of the much more effective in-person registration."

He says in-person canvassing and events are much more successful at motivating people to vote for their preferred candidate -- and polling that assumed that would happen when the pandemic died down may be misleading now that it's still in full swing just months before the election.

"Despite the fact that Biden is leading in the polls, if his voters aren't registered, or are less likely to show up, or because they've been impacted by COVID-19, that will evaporate when it comes to Election Day," Fraga said.

They say when it comes down to it, whoever can motivate their voters to actually go out and cast a ballot will win the election.