At a time when odd is the new normal, it is no longer unthinkable that should Donald Trump lose the election in November, one contributing factor would be his opposition to voting by mail.
Hold onto that thought while considering the latest numbers, the facts that explain why everyone and especially those older than 60 or so is feeling less inclined to mingle these days.
The country set yet another record — more than 59,400 infections — for new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the fifth in nine days while Missouri, Texas, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia set single-day records.
In New York, the state that fought the worst of the virus, and in the Hudson Valley which has been able to escape the worst, there are other troubling signs.
As Ulster County Executive Patrick Ryan warned this week, "This is serious stuff." He was highlighting viral spikes from different sources — a farm in southern Ulster, a manufacturing facility in Kingston, high school post-graduation parties in Marlboro and a youth softball team that traveled out of state and came back with the virus instead of trophies.
"What we need to do is just recognize that we are not through this and as we reopen, as we are out and about more going back to work, interacting with others ... we actually have to put our guard up more at an individual level, at a business level, at an organizational level."
That means finding ways to minimize exposure and one tried and true, verified and voluntary way would be to let those who do not wish to line up in a crowded polling place cast their ballots to vote by mail.
Oregon, the state that has decades of experience with voting by mail, has evidence that this method is not only safe from fraud and efficient but also encourages higher voter participation. We saw that in action just last month when school districts held their votes on proposed budgets and board positions by mailing ballots to every registered voter. Far more participated than had ever before so there is abundant evidence that when it comes to voting, this is the way to go if you want to make sure that an election reflects the will of the people as closely as possible.
We know that the president does not listen to facts and experts on most subjects, but he usually at least considers the opinions of his family members. So his objection to voting by mail is even more curious considering the Republican National Committee robocalls this spring by his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, and son Donald Trump Jr. explicitly saying not only that voting can be done "safely and securely" by mail but that this method is the best way to increase participation.
As others must have told the president by now, many of the states he has to carry to have any hope of winning in November have high a high proportion of senior citizens, the older, white base that he needs to win. And they are the ones most likely to prefer an absentee ballot sent through the mail to standing in line.
The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.