Excellent Advice

Last Tuesday, Jamelle Bouie had a truly useful column in the New York Times.

On this blog, I cite and link to a wide variety of opinion and research, mostly because I’m sharing information I consider interesting, factual and important. It is much rarer to come across information that is both illuminating and practical– useful.

Bouie began with a prediction that won’t surprise anyone who hasn’t been in a coma for the past four years: if the first returns on election night show him even slightly ahead, Trump will declare victory and have his minions doing everything they can to stymie the counting of additional, mail-in ballots. (In 2018, as the results of absentee ballots came in, the Democrats’ advantage grew substantially–what had looked like an anemic victory turned into a blue wave.) Recent research confirms that–for reasons that remain obscure–later counted votes have routinely benefitted Democrats.

If Trump is leading on election night, in other words, there’s a good chance he’ll try to disrupt and delegitimize the counting process. That way, if Joe Biden pulls ahead in the days (or weeks) after voting ends — if we experience a “blue shift” like the one in 2018, in which the Democratic majority in the House grew as votes came in — the president will have given himself grounds to reject the outcome as “fake news.”

Unlike the pundits who simply point out the ways in which disaster might strike in November, however, Bouie proposes a remedy; he tells us what we can do to avoid that disaster.

The only way to prevent this scenario, or at least, rob it of the oxygen it needs to burn, is to deliver an election night lead to Biden. This means voting in person. No, not everyone will be able to do that. But if you plan to vote against Trump and can take appropriate precautions, then some kind of hand delivery — going to the polls or bringing your mail-in ballot to a “drop box” — will be the best way to protect your vote from the president’s concerted attempt to undermine the election for his benefit.

Here in Indiana, our Republican Governor and Secretary of State  have thus far refused to allow no-excuse absentee voting. But thanks to previous lawsuits brought by Common Cause, we have a reasonable number of satellite voting locations, and we have 28 days of early voting. My husband and I had already decided that we would “mask up” and (as usual) vote early in person.

As Bouie reports, and we all know, Trump is increasingly desperate to hold on to power. If the polls are even close to correct, he probably can’t win a fair fight.

His solution, then, is to do everything in his power to hinder the opposition and either win an Electoral College majority or claim victory before all the votes have been counted.

A key element of Trump’s strategy is to undermine the Postal Service’s ability to deliver and collect mail. The president’s postmaster general has removed experienced officials, implemented cuts and raised postage rates for ballots mailed to voters, increasing the cost if states want the post office to prioritize election mail. And Politico reports that Trump’s aides and advisers in the White House have been searching for ways to curb mail-in voting through executive action, “from directing the Postal Service to not deliver certain ballots to stopping local officials from counting them after Election Day.”

The polls also reflect a huge partisan split on the issue of mail-in voting, with 54 percent of Biden supporters preferring  mail compared to only 17 percent of Trump supporters. If those percentages are reflected in the early returns, Bouie’s election-night scenario becomes terrifyingly possible.

The best defense for the president’s political opponents is, if possible, to vote in person. For some, this will mean going to the polls in November, in the middle of flu season, when the spread of Covid-19 may worsen. In most states, however, there are multiple ways to cast or hand in a ballot. Every state offers some form of early or absentee voting, and 33 states — including swing states like Arizona and Wisconsin — allow absentee voting without an excuse. Trump supports absentee voting — it’s how his older supporters in Florida vote — and his opponents should take advantage of the fact that those systems won’t be under the same kind of attack. Many vote-by-mail states also offer drop boxes so that voters can deliver ballots directly to the registrar. And if you must mail in your ballot, the best practice would be to post it as early as possible, to account for potential delays.

The best possible outcome would be a massive election-night repudiation of Trump and his enablers–so massive that it leaves no room for doubt that the majority of Americans want to begin the hard work of repairing the incalculable damage  done to both our institutions and Americans’ self-respect.

29 thoughts on “Excellent Advice

  1. Great ideas. I saw another interesting development this week. Some of the sports teams are turning their Sport Venues into Giant Poling places. What a great idea. They are large enough for safe distancing. Ample parking. People KNOW how to get there. GREAT IDEA.

    https://www.npr.org/2020/06/29/884979288/atlanta-hawks-arena-to-host-voting-site-team-challenges-rest-of-nba-to-follow
    https://lakersoutsiders.com/2020/07/01/lebron-james-more-than-vote-nba-arena-voting-initiatives/

    Atlanta, Detroit, Maybe Milwaukee. Perhaps more can follow. Indy ?????

    And if you are young and healthy, please consider being a poll worker.

  2. Sage advice but only really effective in battleground states, of which Indiana is not one. I’ll stay safe, fill out my absentee ballot and drop it off at the County Clerk’s office. I’m more encouraged by initiatives such as that in Los Angles County where they will be using Dodger Stadium as a polling location. We need Detroit, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Philly, Charlotte, Phoenix and others to do the same.

  3. Trump can declare all he wants but; until the Electoral College presidential APPOINTMENT is declared, no one is the winner.

    I was living in Florida when the Bush Family Recount happened; updated news throughout days and evenings reported purging of votes of those who were declared dead, who showed up alive to vote, and others declared convicted felons with no way to prove they had never been convicted of a crime. The biggie which relates specifically to this 2020 presidential election was the locked closet filled with boxes of Absentee Ballots which arrived before election day, were “found” in a closet during the recount. They were declared “not arrived in time to count” and were discarded. Delivering Absentee Ballots in person and/or using drop-boxes will not matter when those ballots are boxed up to be counted later…especially if locked in a closet.

    “The best possible outcome would be a massive election-night repudiation of Trump and his enablers–so massive that it leaves no room for doubt that the majority of Americans want to begin the hard work of repairing the incalculable damage done to both our institutions and Americans’ self-respect.”

    This would indeed be the “best possible outcome” but we need to be prepared for the unexpected on election night…and probably for days after…before we have the full count. Unless the Electoral College announces their personal APPOINTMENT to the presidency late on November 3rd or early morning on November 4th. But if that appointee is Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, will Trump disband the Electoral College retroactively? He has taken many other actions presidents do not have the power to do but he accomplished them.

    Question; why is it accepted as fact that only Democratic mail-in votes will be effected?

  4. The true horror of today’s situation is that the majority of Republicans have no idea what they have done and continue to do to this country. The very idea of dismantling the United States Post Office in order to win an election should be bringing cries of “TREASON”.

  5. We are in great danger from Republicans. Why? Because those with great sums of money support their cheating, lying and disruption of democracy. How do you think most of them got so rich in the first place? The Republican party is their tool to continue to feed their illusions of wonderfulness.

    The Republican party and the rich donors that want pure fascism to rule are a clear and present danger to our Constitution and what used to be a shining light of democracy. Yes, we must do everything we can to defend and protect the Constitution agains the scourge of our domestic enemies: Republicans.

  6. I assume everybody has a mask by now since there are necessities for our existence. Just because there is a pandemic, we must still eat, drink, and commune — we are social creatures too.

    I understand mail-in ballots like I understand mandatory voter registration. If you have a social security number, you should be given a ballot once you are old enough to vote, and if you don’t vote, the IRS can penalize you by charging a fee on your taxes.

    It’s 2020…we have apps like Google lens, which can identify plants and mushrooms by just taking a picture. Why can’t we have universal voting along with universal health insurance?

    Jamelle makes good points under our current corrupt system of political party apparatchiks. Some of the people casting ballots with the assistance of party volunteers don’t even know what month it is. Sadly, many of them vote blindly for Democrats (straight-ticket voters).

    However, blue states will vote blue and red states will vote red, regardless of COVID. It’s the purple states that will be the center of attention once again.

    If you live in one of the red states, like Indiana, consider voting for the Green Party or Socialist Equality Party. This will help legitimize new parties who focus on social and economic changes needed in this floundering country.

    Trump and the GOP allowed you to forget about the last forty years of Neoliberalism under both parties. When capitalism fails, we the people have two options, Fascism or Socialism. Either the people find themselves ruled by authoritarians, or they take back their power to push out the Oligarchy, which forms Fascist rule.

    We are in this middle ground right now where the people think something in the center is safe — see all the articles regarding the early primary this year where the South and Midwest backed Biden (if they genuinely did) because he was the safe bet. Talk about fears taking over.

    The citizens of the USA have been conditioned at an early age to support our gross inequalities, where the people are always struggling to survive. The people don’t care about being oppressed, and many blame it on the government because they can’t see behind the scenes. The propaganda media is used to create this confusion.

    #WakeUp

  7. Awash in a sea of red, I will cast my ballot on election day. At least I can cancel out one bigot.

    Todd,

    Great idea about ballots and required voting.

  8. The saving grace, here in Florida, is that Trump has given his blessing to our “good” mail-in voting. Still, given his administration’s Keystone Cops approach to governing, DeJoy may not have gotten the memo and gone ahead and cut hours and dismantled the sorting machines down here just like he has across the country. So, though the need MAY be somewhat less here, the prudent course is to follow the guidelines being given for everyone else.

    In the past, I’ve always just mailed in my ballot but, this time, I’m planning to deliver it by hand. And here’s a head’s-up to any Floridians out there: hand delivery is not available on election day itself. Be sure and get it in early.
    Secondly, just in case our Trump-clone of a governor decides to play hanky-panky with the southern end [the less likely to vote for Trump portion] of the state, keep a close eye on the usual drop-off points that might abruptly be shut down.

  9. Does anyone know how many Indianapolis polling places there will be on Nov. 3rd? Only 20-something were open for the primary, creating long lines and hours of waiting.

  10. Instead of making America great again, the incumbent is breaking his promise and making America a new emerging banana republic.

  11. Sheila, wonderful wonderful wonderful thread this morning! I did a little looking, I found some information here. It collaborates everything you put in your thread this morning!!!!!!!!

    Michael S willmerconish had an interesting program this morning on this very thing!

    He spoke with Edward Foley from the from the Moritz College of Law @the Ohio State University, that has been discussing the blueshift since before 2012. https://fsi.stanford.edu/people/ned-foley

    “Mr. Foley coined the term after the 2012 election, when he was trying to predict which closely contested states might become the focus of legal challenges by one or the other political party.There were no cliffhangers that year, but Mr. Foley was intrigued by the risk, so he dug deeper into the numbers. Studying vote counts in presidential elections from 1960 through 2012, he found a clear and persistent shift toward the Democrat in later-counted, or “overtime,” votes beginning in 2004. The magnitude of the shift varied by state, but it was consistent enough to make him worry about what could happen if, say, a tipping-point state were to have a large enough shift to change the outcome of the entire election.”

    “Most people forget this, but Missouri in 2008 was not called for a couple of weeks,” Mr. Foley said. The initial tally on election night had John McCain leading Barack Obama by slightly fewer than 6,000 votes; as the late returns came in, Mr. McCain’s lead shrank to about 3,700. In the end, Mr. Obama did not need Missouri’s electoral votes to win the White House. “But had Missouri been a pivotal state, people would’ve been screaming over it,” Mr. Foley said.

    What concerns him isn’t voting fraud, but rather how a changing vote total that tends to move in one direction can be misunderstood by an anxious public and exploited by politicians eager to preserve any advantage. “It may start to look as if, when an election goes into extra innings, one of the two teams is given extra at-bats,” Mr. Foley and Charles Stewart, a political scientist at M.I.T., wrote in a paper published this year.

    This fear became reality in the 2018 midterms, when Martha McSally, the Republican candidate for one of Arizona’s Senate seats, saw her election night lead over her Democratic opponent, Kyrsten Sinema, evaporate as later-counted votes were added to the tally. Mr. Trump took note. “Electoral corruption — Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!” he wrote in a tweet.”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/11/opinion/voting-mail-election-night.html

    Take some time and look at his articles he’s written over the past few years. He truly seems to have been a swami concerning what’s getting ready to happen.

  12. “If you live in one of the red states, like Indiana, consider voting for the Green Party or Socialist Equality Party. This will help legitimize new parties who focus on social and economic changes needed in this floundering country.”

    Todd; this may be the worst and the most uninformed comment you have ever made. There is no sign that you understand this is the most dangerous political situation we have lived with in the modern world. 3rd and 4th party and write-in candidates have no possibility of winning an election, can only split the 2 parties and as happened in 2016, gave the election to the 1% who own the red states via their hand-picked Electoral College members. You are helping Trump with your always bad-mouthing the Democratic party and candidates but this shows you have little awareness of what is going on in this country as we slide deeper into dictatorship daily.

    Your small-town mind-set coming from a small Indiana town with thriving racism and bigotry, high crime, many slum areas and decaying infrastructure whose primary business is BSU are all part of the rural Republicanism which has brought us here. You are the one who needs to WAKE UP!

  13. Todd, you should find a new bogey man. I know of no Democratic party chair or imagined central committee who wiellds the kind of power you imagine. I can only assume you have been abused by someone in the past. Too bad as I agreee with most of your policies.

  14. Peggy and Todd; I had an elderly German lady as neighbor and friend in New Port Richey, Florida; we spoke often of the pre-WWII years before she came to this country. Her fiance had come to America to establish a home and secure employment before he began the process with the German government to bring Gertrude here to be married. It was the year 1932 and she cleared, packed and ready to travel to America when the military showed up at her door. She was required to vote before leaving; the military escorted her to the voting center to cast her vote for Adolph Hitler, the only candidate on the ballot.

    Required voting is Fascism; we are too close to that form of government under Trump without stepping over the line to required voting. If Trump is triumphant in November he may escalate his White Nationalism by allowing only himself to be a candidate…after he repeals the two-term limit for the presidency. He has accomplished the impossible using abuse of power in only 3 1/2 years and has now admitted to controlling this election to assure he will remain in the White House. Be careful what you wish for.

  15. I am eligible to vote absentee and will. It is amazing not surprising though to witness The Trumpet and his sycophants sabotaging the United States Postal Service.

    Here is a comment from Susan Collins R Senator from Maine to the Postmaster General:

    “I write to request that you promptly address the delays in mail delivery that have occurred following recent operational changes at the United States Postal Service (USPS),” Collins said in a letter to DeJoy on Thursday, released soon after Trump laid out his opposition to funding for the USPS that Collins supports.

    “Following these operational changes,” she wrote, “Mainers are experiencing delays in delivery of needed prescriptions, personal protective equipment, such as masks, and payments sent through the mail. While I support efforts to improve the USPS’s financial condition, I am concerned that the reported changes will have the opposite effect, reducing service to the public and driving away customers.”

    Along with slashing overtime and removing mail-sorting machines, DeJoy removed two of the top USPS officials in charge of day-to-day operations and reassigned 23 other postal executives. He has portrayed them as cost-cutting measures.

    I suppose as usual The Trumpet and his sycophants in government will ignore Collins or anyone else who protests.

  16. JoAnn Green @7:16am: “Question; why is it accepted as fact that only Democratic mail-in votes will be effected?” (effected/affected)
    Ms Green, to you who writes usually with much clarity, why cause readers to stumble over the sentence quoted above?

  17. where does all this treasonous behavior by the republicans,will be called as such? if one was to have a coup, its ranked as treason if by military,whats the diffrence if its done by one,political party? every cabinet possition is held by corporate owned interests or bank or lobby faction. trumps party,isnt just the name trump, its the very elected officials we elected prior to this election,where little to no effort was made to thawart and democratic process. we should be in the streets with BLM, and have a massive push to make a voice of this corporate take over.. drop all orders to amazon for a day,and such. graveyard walmart for a day, make a effort to use a small buisness,and let them know why,and if they insist they vote for trump, close the door on the way out.. Sen Testor had his NPR moment yesterday,He was complaining about the USPO mail boxes in rural areas being removed,,he never said a damn thing about trumps early voting scheme or why,just a excuse thrown at the POG changing things. again elected officials ignoring the facts..and seems his support,to see wall street stays flush with our tax dollars and profits we make, so we may be denied any further voting,again..think about the outcome,if trump and mcconnel wins,, this very means to elect is denied to us,then its really all over…send in the CEOs and have a board meeting,and a big party, because we will be looking at a goverment that will cease to exist..

  18. I, unless terrible things happen to me between now and Election Day, will show up at the polls to make sure that my vote counts despite any risk and despite the fact that I live in a blue state (NY). Why? I want the election results to send a message beside who gets what DC position. I want to send the message to Republicans that we see how wrong they are. We see how far they have been dragged from their former position as a political party to being a for profit business selling pieces of the country to the highest bidder. We see the corruption and incompetence that they regard as just the price of power. We see it all in spite of their attempts to obscure everything and none of it is acceptable.

  19. I walked in to where my wife works.in a truckstop,, had my new BIDEN t shirt on, and a mask, i was the only customer with a mask on..im sure they all thought the world just ceased to exist…
    my wife and I discussed work related masks, she dedicated to it,and she handles the deli food,hot box items, mrs clean. (compared to her truckdriving,mechanic fix alls hands) she decided, if ya dont wear a mask while im in route to restock, ill just wait in the kitchen til ya leave the area..and, she will ask them to back off,when shes restocking..beats what the truckstop owners required.. so far so good, ill say the mask effort works

    north dakota has registration, on the same day as voting too..but poling places may dry up in smaller towns..

  20. So many people who oppose Trump are trying to condition people to just accept the fact that the election won’t be decided until a weeks if not months after Election Day. Do they not know how Trump will exploit that delay? If Trump is leading on election night, he will do everything he can to stop the counting or at the very least undermine the legitimacy of any later counts that put Biden ahead. If Trump lost all 50 states, he wouldn’t concede of course.

    Can’t remember the pollster, but a poll said that, as to people who plan to vote in-person, Trump leads 2-1. As far as people who plan to vote by mail, Biden leads by like 4-1. I think that is why Trump is trying to stop mail-in votes from being casted or counting.

    As far as counting mail-in ballots, there needs to be much, much more focus on that Depending on the election, thousands of mail-in ballots get rejected for various reasons, including lay people working the polls who say the signature on the envelope doesn’t match the signature voter registration has on file. Mail-in ballots have a rejection rate that is 3 times the rate of in-person ballots.

  21. Using sport stadiums as polling places seems like a good idea. But I’m not sure who or what needs to approve a site as a polling place. Despite the fact that a sport stadium will allow enough room for people to social distance, the real issue is making sure there are enough voting machines and poll workers to get the job done. Plus, I think it would be almost impossible to get Republicans to go along with the idea. As much of a hassle as it may seem, in-person voting, early voting and early submission of mail-in (absentee) ballots may alleviate some of the problems. Mail-in ballot drop boxes would bypass the incompetence of the post office (sad to say we don’t have such a remedy in Indiana).

  22. Boy, when things go bad they really go bad! Just when Trump is stealing another election, his brown shirt good squads are locked and loaded to eliminate “assorted others”, and good citizens are preparing to emigrate to a rational country, the rational countries are banning Americans from entering.

  23. For folks who didn’t catch it, months ago the RNC dedicated tens of millions of dollars to pay an army of “poll watchers” at key precincts (read – those that could decide an Electoral College elector) to be ready to challenge in-person and/or mail in ballots for minor issues. Each challenge will have to be settled; perhaps, in a close election by courts….even if the DEMS mount a counter army the arguing could delay, delay results and add further fuel to the GOP’s suggestion of rigging. We already know the end if the total result goes to SCOTUS.

  24. Personally, I lost hope in this country when Jimmy Carter lost to flailing B Actor, former Actors Guild Union president, Ronald Reagan. It legitimized Harry Truman’s fear during the very early years of T.V. when he shuddered to think that this new media could have citizens vote for someone who looks and talks well behind a camera but is totally unfit and unqualified for the job of President.

    And here we are. My hope was really lost when Bill “I feel your pain” Clinton threw millions of families off of food relief with his so-called Welfare Reform and, to ice the cake, signed off on the elimination (repeal) of FDR’s Steagall- Glass Act of 1933. So much for looking out for the struggling working person!!! Clinton, in my opinion (backed up by policy facts in the government records) is when the Democrat Party died and fell in line with the Wall Street, Big Bank loving and worshiping GOP.

    Kurt Vonnegut said it best at the time. He said good ol’ Billy did what many people thought was impossible by the end of the 20th century, creating a 3rd party: “The Money Party.” Problem was, one of previous two had to die for it to happen! Thanks Bill. We’ve really been voting for one party ever since. Anyone who doubts this core fact can look at the impressive egalitarian list of millionaires and billionaires (and Corporations when they became “people”) who spread their “donations” (aka payoffs, quid pro quo) to the Money Party EQUALLY…that is…to BOTH “parties” so that, whoever “won,” they would be financially beholden to march lockstep in Congress to the appropriate business lawyers for favored legislation to benefit ……..wait for it ………yes…….. to benefit the corporate 1% class.

    I wonder when faithful and good intention-ed Democrats of today will, not only take some honest measure of responsibility for laying the pathway for our present chaos, but will actually do something DIFFERENT to, not just reform and fix, but vitally CHANGE the political system that has disastrously morphed before our eyes these past 40 years???

    Like an alcoholic, before real change can happen, there absolutely has to be an accountability, an honest soul searching and admission of past behaviors (knowingly and unknowingly) and suffering one has caused that still has consequences to the present.

    And like all alcoholics, they have to admit to blaming and accusing others for their own state of mind and actions.

    Seems like I see some typical denial on this thread….and personal attacks.

  25. When I see the dismantling of mailboxes in Indpls. it frightens me. WTF! I applied for mail in ballot since I’m over 65 yrs. Now with all this commotion I’m thinking maybe my vote won’t count if I just mail it in. Since I’m in a high risk group (covid wise), I have to decide whether to risk our health or try to make sure my vote goes toward holding on to the US Constitution & holding on to our Democracy. This feels like coercion! Both my parents served in army in WWll (Mom as nurse in war zone)and I’m not a wilting lily, but to make me have to risk my health, my husbands health and we watch our 2.5 yr. old grandson(his health)is definitely a deterrent. I plan to put on my mask and go down to CCbuilding for early voting. I need to vote against these anti-american forces that have taken over DJT’s party. I can’t let my parents sacrifices go down without a fight!

  26. well said Kathy. like you and others here, we had family go off to protect our Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic. Like Gerald Stinson says, “He didn’t go off to the South Pacific to fight Fascism just to come home and see it thrive in our own country!” Sorry to quote you Gerald, you do a much better job since you were actually there in the fight!

    My dad served 8 years from home in both WW2 and Korea. It damaged him. He was haunted by war. He ended up taking his own life after years of hanging on by a thread. Cost? You damn right there’s a cost. So many thousands didn’t even get a chance to come home much less start a family or go to college on the GI Bill.

    So to see what is going on is, indeed, frightening, but as you say ALL of us need to show up to this fight that WE did not cause but has been brought to us by Trump, the GOP, Corporate Democrats and all the other minions of this desire to push The People aside so that these Wall Street and Corporate aristocrats can have their own country to themselves with no adversary to worry about.

    Yes, this IS a war in every sense. Trump Inc and the GOP ARE our domestic enemy. Seriously. We do not need to witness another 40 years, much less the last 3 and 1/2, to know what they are doing. It is as plain as it gets. If Democracy, what’s left of it, is to be salvaged at all it must happen NOW. 4 more years of this Fascist regime would put, literally, the final nail on the coffin of Democracy. It cannot be more serious than that.

  27. Joy – Marion County in Indiana is expected to have 185-190 polling places PLUS early voting sites (I don’t know how many of the latter). BUT vote in person if at all possible. I’m going to mask up, take my own pen and pencil, and wear disposable gloves and vote in person.

    And please folks, vote BLUE and NOT for the the Green Party or other non-major parties. The stakes are far too great this election to risk spoilers. Trump’s QAnon enablers in Congress and various state governments are not interested in representing average voters fairly but in denying representation to the fair-minded. Like Trump, they want to deny voting and structural redress of grievances for all but the powerful, monied, white, multi-national interests. Don’t waste your vote and enable Trump enablers.

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