Sunday, August 2, 2020

Trump wars against mail-in-voting

Quote of the Day: “Inexplicably … Trump believes that absentee ballots are good and mail-in ballots are bad, even though they are the same thing.” – Sue Halpern, The New Yorker.

The Chaotic Design of Trump’s Mail-In-Voting Rants by Sue Halpern. Voting by post requires a functioning delivery service and sufficient funding for states—two things that the President is determined to sabotage.

On Thursday, when Donald Trump casually suggested on Twitter that the November election be delayed because “Universal Mail-In Voting” would make it “the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” he was either setting the stage to contest the outcome or to explain away his impending defeat, or both. As the President should know by now, in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic is dangerous, especially for older Americans and those with underlying health conditions. Yet he and his chorus of enablers have made a habit of trash-talking voting by mail, claiming, erroneously, that it promotes fraud. It’s no accident that Trump’s tweet specifically assailed “Universal Mail-In Voting,” since the word “universal” is triggering for anyone who is afraid of the will of the people.

So far, only five states have nearly universal mail-in balloting. For most of them, it took years of legislative wrangling before it was adopted, and years of preparation before it was deployed. Additionally, thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have no-excuse absentee balloting (meaning that anyone can request an absentee ballot for any reason). And every state has the infrastructure to enable military and overseas voters to cast ballots from afar. (Inexplicably, according to Thursday’s tweet, Trump believes that absentee ballots are good and mail-in ballots are bad, even though they are the same thing.) All told, nearly eighty per cent of the electorate would be able to vote by mail in November.

Past primaries have offered a preview of the problems that can arise when significant numbers of voters choose this option. (Hint: the issue isn’t voter fraud.) Take California, a blue state, where over four million people voted by mail in February of 2008. The deluge was so great that election officials were still counting ballots weeks after the election. …

These are some of the typical, non-malicious, ways that voters may find themselves disenfranchised. When there is an exponential increase in the number of absentee ballots, many of which will be cast by people likely to make mistakes because they’re unfamiliar with the process, the number of rejections will rise, too. So will the number of lawsuits challenging the results.

… Even before Thursday’s tweet, Trump was threatening to cut off funding for states that expanded absentee voting. Yet even the Republican leadership, which has spent the past three and a half years making sure that the states will not have sufficient funds to secure our elections, found itself in the uncomfortable position of having to face Trump’s suggestion to delay the election. Their responses, though, could not be matched by this simple rebuke levelled by the seventeen-term Democratic congressman John Lewis, who died on July 17th. “Voting and participating in the democratic process are key,” he wrote in a valedictory essay, which was published on Thursday and timed to coincide with his funeral. “The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.”

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