Dr. Anthony Fauci said it should be safe for people to vote in person as long as they take sufficient precautions.
“I think if carefully done according to the guidelines, there’s no reason that I can see why that not be the case,” Dr. Fauci told National Geographic in an interview that aired Thursday.
He pointed out that grocery stores have marks intended to keep people at least six feet apart.
“You can do that,” said Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “If you go and wear a mask, if you observe the physical distancing and don’t have a crowded situation, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do that.”
He said people who are at higher risk or don’t want to take the chance can have a vote-by-mail option.
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to vote, in person or otherwise,” he said.
Dr. Fauci’s comments came as Democrats and President Trump are locked in a stalemate over funding for the U.S. Postal Service.
Democrats had pushed for $25 billion for the post office and $3.5 billion for vote-by-mail efforts, though it appeared that negotiators had settled on $10 billion for USPS in the most recent round of negotiations.
Democrats, who have effusively praised Dr. Fauci throughout the course of the pandemic, say the additional money is necessary so people don’t have to risk their health by going to the polls in person.
Mr. Trump said Thursday that near-universal vote-by-mail isn’t going to work without that additional money, which is holding up broader negotiations on the next coronavirus relief package.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called Democrats’ $3.5 billion ask for vote-by-mail “fundamentally unserious.”