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Corona-voting: South Koreans and Americans

Corona-voting: South Koreans and Americans

If you voted this week in South Korea's national elections, you now know a lot more than most of us about how democracy works in a time of pandemic. Standing in line, you kept your distance from other voters. You allowed poll workers to take your temperature and disinfect your hands. You put on gloves. Then you were permitted to vote.

This process was helped along by the willingness of 550,000 of your fellow citizens to serve as poll workers, to disinfect the polling places themselves, and to ensure everything went to plan. Maybe you were part of the 26% of your country's people who voted early or by mail.


By whatever means you voted, you can be proud that your country posted its highest voter turnout (66.2%) in 28 years — despite a still-dangerous health emergency. As for the result, Prime Minister Moon Jae-in's party, which is responsible for the aggressive restrictions meant to contain the virus, won a landslide victory.

Question 1: But will these methods of "corona-voting" work in other countries?

Take the United States, for example, where elections will be held in November. Will people accept the kinds of restrictions that made the South Korean elections safe?

Certainly not everyone. This week, protesters gathered in Michigan and North Carolina to defy the right of government to issue stay-at-home orders and ban large gatherings. More protests like these, as well as protests against government-mandated social distancing, are coming to other states.

These demonstrations are based on a Constitutional argument that government can't impose unwarranted physical restrictions on citizens. "Quarantine is when you restrict movement of sick people. Tyranny is when you restrict the movement of healthy people," said one protest organizer. A growing number of Republican lawmakers support these movements.

Fast forward to November: If COVID-19 remains a fact of life, or if a second wave of infections this fall follows a period of summer quiet, will those Americans who resent government health restrictions keep their distance as they stand in line to vote? Will they allow poll workers to disinfect their hands and take their temperature? Will they don gloves?

There's another question: Will these health precautions prove impossible to implement, because elections in the United States are governed not by the federal government, as in South Korea, but by the not-so-united states themselves? Some states may provide the number of people and equipment needed to enforce these voting rules. Others won't.

Question 2: Does this mean, then, that this year's US elections will be decided by strong voter turnout from those least worried about COVID-19 and weaker turnout from those who most fear infection? If so, that will be a problem for Democrats, since polls have shown Republicans are significantly less concerned about the virus and much more suspicious of government attempts to contain it with restrictions on individual freedom.

But consider this: More than six months from election day, there are six states where competition between President Donald Trump and Democratic Party challenger Joe Biden appears close enough to decide the US presidential election: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona.

All six of those states allow vote by mail without restrictions.

Millions of mailed ballots will pose logistical challenges of their own. There are also congressional elections, where outcomes will be even harder to predict.

But voting by mail in those six crucial states will help avoid arguments about whether fear of COVID-19 elected an American president.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

On Tuesday night, you can finally watch Trump and Biden tangle on the debate stage. But you TOO can go head to head on debate night .. with your fellow US politics junkies.

Print out GZERO's handy debate BINGO cards and get ready to rumble. There are four different cards so that each player may have a unique board. Every time one of the candidates says one of these words or terms, X it on your card. First player to get five across wins. And if you really want to jazz it up, you can mark each of your words by taking a swig of your drink, or doing five burpees, or donating to your favorite charity or political candidate. Whatever gets you tipsy, in shape, or motivated, get the bingo cards here. It's fight night!

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GZERO Media, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, today hosted its second virtual town hall on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges of its distribution.

The panel was moderated by New York Times science and health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli and featured Gates Foundation's Deputy Director of Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Lynda Stuart; Eurasia Group's Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director of Energy, Climate & Resources; Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman; and Gayle E. Smith, the president & CEO of ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Watch the full video above.

Join us today, September 29th, at 11 am ET for a GZERO Town Hall livestream event, Ending the COVID-19 Pandemic, to learn about the latest in the global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Watch here at 11am ET: https://www.gzeromedia.com/events/town-hall-ending-the-covid-19-pandemic-livestream/

Our panel will discuss where things really stand on vaccine development, the political and economic challenges of distribution, and what societies need to be focused on until vaccine arrives in large scale. This event is the second in a series presented by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group.

Apoorva Mandavilli, science & global health reporter for the New York Times, will moderate a conversation with:

  • Lynda Stuart, Deputy Director, Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director, Energy, Climate & Resources, Eurasia Group
  • Mark Suzman, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Gayle E. Smith, President & CEO, ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development

Add to Calendar


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700,000: An additional 700,000 Syrian children may go hungry this year due to the combined effects of the war-ravaged country's economic implosion, as well as coronavirus restrictions, pushing the total number of food-insecure kids in Syria to over 4.6 million, according to Save the Children. Two thirds of surveyed children have not eaten any fresh fruit in three months.

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