What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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10 mins read

Trump knows he probably won’t get enough votes to win, so his plan is evidently to create chaos with the postal service so that the election will be a disaster, and then use the excuse of the chaos to try to delegitimize the election.

We know this because (1) Neither Trump nor his team are capable of anything more sophisticated. They possess the capacity to lie and destroy. That’s about it. 

Also, (2) Trump announced it. 

A bit of history: When the pandemic hit, states and voter activist groups immediately took steps for voters to vote by mail. (Also known as absentee voting. I deliberately use the terms interchangeably.) 

Trump and the GOP didn’t like it. Vote by mail solves a host of problems, including eliminating the need for electronic voting machines, creating a paper trail, and making voter suppression more difficult.

Initially, Trump tried to dissuade people from voting by mail by saying it is wrought with fraud.

But then Trump realized he couldn’t stop the trend toward vote by mail and he was discouraging his own voters from voting (oops).

He then evidently decided that the best way to sabotage vote by mail is to cripple the Post Office. This goes along with the GOP desire to dismantle the federal government and privatize its functions. Moreover, the post office helps people, and a government that helps people goes against the GOP philosophy of government. (For what I mean, see this post. To read about the postal power in the Constitution, see this site.)

So, how do we solve the problem Trump is creating with the post office so that vote-by-mail runs as smoothly as possible?

For people who have the opportunity to vote by mail:

  • Get your ballot as soon as possible.
  • Strategize the best way to submit your ballot for counting.

We will have a problem if millions of people wait until the last few weeks to request their ballots. The mails will get jammed and people won’t get their ballots. They’ll have to go to the polls and cancel their absentee ballot. This will create long lines and contribute to Election Day chaos. 

So don’t wait. Get your ballot as soon as possible. Make sure everyone you know does the same.

After you fill out your ballot, strategize the best way to submit it. In some states, you can take it to a polling place during early voting or on Election Day.  Other states have secure drop boxes. (To be clear, I am talking about drop boxes owned and controlled by state election officials, not drop off mailboxes owned by the US Postal Service.)

In other words: Avoid the mail. Makes sense, right? Then become a community organizer or join a voter protection group and get the word out that people need to vote by mail but avoid the mail.

When Trump creates a barrier, we have to find a way around it. Yes, I know. It’s flat absurd that the president of the United States is trying to sabotage an election. But here we are. On the bright side, if he knew he had it rigged, he wouldn’t be trying to sabotage it.

Remember also that Trump’s attack on the post office will (1) destroy small businesses that rely on the mail (2) harm people who rely on the mail for prescription drugs and (3) harm rural areas that have no options other than the postal service. I suspect Trump will back down from this as with the shutdown, but he might now, so we need to plan.

Thus the idea could completely backfire by making Trump even more unpopular while savvy Democrats adroitly sidestep the mail. Remember what happened to the Wisconsin GOP when they tried to win an election by creating pain for voters? See this Twitter thread if you forgot.

Correct. I don’t think the goal is to delay ballots: I think the goal is to create massive chaos and disaster, and then use that chaos to delegitimize the election.

Yesterday, I watched this Q and A  (a remote fundraiser):

Kamala Harris was asked the best way to combat this administration’s voter suppression. She said: “I look at it as a challenge” and said we’re strong enough to get around it.

This varies by state. Learn your state’s rules. Here is one resource, but double-check everything, and keep checking. Things change. You can check your state’s Secretary of State website, or check in with your state’s Democratic Party.

I get these kinds of comments often on Twitter, and they irritate me:

Thousands of volunteers are textbanking, reaching voters, and getting the word out. More are needed. There is no solution “now.” There are no magic bullets. Nobody is going to ride in on a charger and save you.

If everyone demanding that someone do something now would just get busy and contribute we’d be a lot better off. Democracy means rule by the people. The people are us. Democracy takes work. Autocracy (taking orders) is for the lazy.

These are usually the same people complaining that Pelosi is doing nothing and the House Democrats are failing in their oversight duties. In other words, what Trump does is the fault of the Democrats and not Trump or the GOP that is shielding him.

The way to prevent Trump’s attempts to sabotage the election is for everyone to get involved. How? I’m so glad you asked. Click here:

Rant over.

Excellent point. A difference right now is that whites are the targets of voter suppression. Blacks have had to endure voter suppression for most of American history. Think of the courage it took during some times and places to vote.

I wrote a biography of Susan B. Anthony, who was arrested and brought to trial for breaking the law by voting. The law said women weren’t allowed to vote. She said that the law violated the 14th amendment. She wasn’t allowed to speak for herself in court because as a woman she was considered “incompetent.”

I have a different opinion. Blacks and minorities are most likely to experience voter suppression at the polls. They are the ones who most often face long lines, closed polling places, and other means discouraging them from voting. Some minority populations are harassed on the assumption that they are not legal citizens. The better option is to prepare the population for the reality that most Democrats will be voting by mail, so the results will not be known election night.

The idea that we need to know who won on November 3rd is a modern invention of network television. People need to get over it. Voting by mail is safer. The ballots are hand-marked, paper, and were prepared carefully at home by the voter. Prepare them now.

My whole thread boiled down to one Tweet. Adam Schiff rocks.

And here is Kamala Harris, also weighing in today:

[View as a Twitter thread]


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Teri has written novels, short stories, nonfiction for both young readers and adults, and lots of legal briefs. She is currently working on a book on disinformation to be published by Macmillan Publishers. Her political commentary has appeared on the NBC Think Blog and CNN.com. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Slate Magazine, and Scope Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in the American Literary View, The Iowa Review, and others. For twelve years she maintained a private appellate law practice limited to representing indigents on appeal from adverse rulings. She believes with the ACLU that when the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled. She also believe with John Updike that the purpose of literature is to expand our sympathies. Teri lives with her family on the beautiful central coast in California.

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