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In this April 7, 2020 file photo, voters observe social distancing guidelines as they wait in line to cast ballots in the presidential primary election in Milwaukee. (AP) In this April 7, 2020 file photo, voters observe social distancing guidelines as they wait in line to cast ballots in the presidential primary election in Milwaukee. (AP)

In this April 7, 2020 file photo, voters observe social distancing guidelines as they wait in line to cast ballots in the presidential primary election in Milwaukee. (AP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman May 12, 2020

Mail-in voting amid COVID-19 is among the options recommended by CDC, but not the only one

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  • The CDC recommended in March many ways voters could minimize contact with other people, including voting by mail.
     
  • The CDC also recommended ways that in-person voting sites could adjust to the pandemic, such as encouraging early voting, drive-up voting and voting at off-peak times.
     
  • Research shows that the virus’ genetic makeup precludes it from being man-made and, as such, there is no indication that the pandemic’s origin is in any way tied to American elections.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has encouraged voting by mail, but that doesn’t mean it ruled out in-person voting.

"The CDC has recommended mail in voting. That’s what this whole pandemic is about: the election!" stated a May 7 Facebook post.

In March, the CDC posted recommendations for elections. At the time, many states were slated to have presidential primaries. Some were delayed amid concerns they could hasten transmission of the novel coronavirus, which spreads primarily from person to person through respiratory droplets expelled while breathing, speaking, coughing and sneezing.

The CDC’s recommendations listed voting by mail as one of multiple options. 

The CDC recommended that election officials "encourage voters to use voting methods that minimize direct contact with other people and reduce crowd size at polling stations." Those specific recommendations included encouraging "mail-in methods of voting if allowed in the jurisdiction." 

It also encouraged early voting, drive-up voting and voting at off-peak times. The CDC also recommended moving polling sites away from homes for senior citizens, sanitizing election equipment and encouraging social distancing at polling sites.

We contacted the CDC to see if there had been additional guidance since March and did not get a response.

It’s important to note that the CDC’s recommendations are intended as public health guidance; they aren’t equivalent to law. Generally, states set laws that outline their rules for voting by mail, early voting and Election Day voting. Local officials administer elections, which means the CDC can’t ban in-person voting.

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Just a handful of states hold only mail-in voting by law. In the other states, elections officials expect a massive increase in requests for absentee ballots, but they are still planning to provide in-person voting options. California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered that all eligible voters receive absentee ballots, however there will be in-person voting sites as well.

RELATED: Donald Trump’s dubious claim that 'thousands' are conspiring on mail-ballot fraud

The Facebook post plays into a conspiracy that Democrats are overhyping the pandemic to expand mail-in voting and help their chances in November. But the pandemic’s origin is in no way tied to the American election.

The COVID-19 infection outbreak was first detected in China in late December and quickly spread internationally. The World Health Organization declared it a pandemic on March 11. Research shows that the genetic makeup of the virus precludes it from being man-made.

Our ruling

A Facebook post said "The CDC has recommended mail in voting. That’s what this whole pandemic is about: the election!" 

In March, the CDC issued multiple recommendations to reduce the chance that voters would interact with each other, including voting by mail. But the CDC also recommended other ways voters could cast ballots, including at early voting sites or at off-peak times on election day. It also recommended precinct-level strategies for in-person voting such as encouraging social distancing and sanitizing election equipment.

What’s more, there is no indication that the pandemic’s origin is tied to American elections.

We rate this statement Mostly False.

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Mail-in voting amid COVID-19 is among the options recommended by CDC, but not the only one

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