November voting: the coming train wreck

Remember “hanging chads” and all that Florida turmoil in November 2000? (Into December, actually.) Now imagine such presidential election chaos not just in one state but all over the map. With Trumpism in the balance.

Most states are greatly expanding mail voting. so citizens can avoid the health risks of voting in person. It’s now expected three fourths of citizens will vote by mail. Or attempt to.

A few states have utilized universal mail balloting for years, practically without fraud or other problems. But most states are woefully unprepared, and for them this is a looming logistical nightmare. Many of their election bureaucracies are understaffed due to the pandemic. Mail voting is more complex than in-person balloting. Signature verification is a major headache, and a fertile ground for partisan fistfights in a contested count. Even in routine elections tons of mail ballots typically get thrown out for signature issues or other technicalities. And just getting so many paper ballots counted will be a huge job. In some recent New York primaries it took six weeks.

Meantime, covid will also make for a shortage of Election Day poll workers (often elderly). Thus fewer polling sites open, and longer lines. While, in many places, grappling with unfamiliar new technology.

Congress has allocated $400 million to help states prepare, but that’s a spit in the ocean. Experts say at least $2 billion is needed. That figure itself seems a pittance in light of trillions in covid emergency measures. Yet Republicans block even that piddling $2 billion. They actually want election chaos.

Because they think it will hurt Democrats more. Disproportionately affecting densely populated urban areas where their voters concentrate. We’ve long seen Republicans trying to game elections, using phony fraud concerns to make it hard for citizens (especially minorities) to vote.

And speaking of citizens, hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants have qualified, but the administration has shut down the final step of certifying citizenship, thus denying them the vote as well.

Then there’s the Postal Service. Understaffed too due to covid. And the political donor Trump appointed postmaster general has announced operational changes that will slow mail processing. Limiting overtime, eliminating hundreds of mail sorting machines, and more. Even before all this,  I can attest (based on my mail order business) that mail deliveries had already slowed markedly. What will happen with scores of millions of ballots all mailed within a short time? In 32 states, ballots, even if mailed before, don’t count if not received by Election Day.

Without confidence that mail votes will be properly delivered, many people will feel forced to vote in person. Some will get covid and die.

Trump has now made the stunning, shameless public admission that he’s trying to wreck the Postal Service, starving it of money, explicitly to screw up mail balloting.* While the Republican party had previously boasted it was budgeting $20 million to fight against mail voting.

A responsible, patriotic president, dedicated to America’s democratic values, would be hard at work to tackle all the mentioned problems so voting can go as smoothly as possible. Trump is doing the opposite: trying to intentionally sabotage the election, and create such a mess that he can try to throw out the results if (when) he loses.

And let’s not forget the well documented Russian interference in our last election (no, it was not a “hoax”). It’s proven they tried to hack into local voter registration and ballot counting systems. Surely they’ll try again, along with, probably, China and Iran.

They all want, if nothing else, for America to come out with egg on its face. Running rigged elections themselves, they want to destroy all confidence in the processes of democracy.* Trump is their handy tool.

Widespread mail voting and resulting counting delays, and Trump’s scorched earth war on the results, may make “election night” last weeks — a shattering climactic battle in America’s partisan all-but-civil-war. A prolonged night of goblins and ghouls and conspiracism running riot.

With that cruel vile monster, having plunged the nation, by his fecklessness, into this covid holocaust, now striving to exploit it, using it to strike a final blow on our democracy. It’s he who hates America. To vote for him is insane. 

But I pray it will be over quickly and decisively. Then we can wake from the nightmare and commence the giant task of making America great again.

*”Defund the Postal Service?” Of course, this screws up much more than just the election; an efficiently operating postal service is vital to our economy and society in a million ways. A president deliberately hobbling it is beyond insane. “Making America Great Again?” Or turning it into a “shithole country?”

**This has just happened in Puerto Rico’s primary, an election meltdown in which many citizens were prevented from voting.

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