President Trump’s repeated claims (without any evidence) that mail-in-voting creates election fraud, buttressed by his recent (and, amazingly, acknowledged) efforts to impede the United States Postal Service’s activities because he perceives that an efficient November mail-in voting process will assist the Democrats’ electoral prospects, is simply the latest evidence of his willingness to do anything to remain in power. (Mr. Trump did backtrack a bit late last week to indicate that he would agree to a Coronavirus relief package that contained funding for the post office. Even if money is allocated, I fear it may have little effect unless accompanied by nonpartisan oversight ensuring that the funding is promptly spent in a manner that actually facilitates nationwide balloting.) Consider the malevolent genius of it. Mr. Trump has picked an election element – mail-in-voting – that is particularly vital in this COVID era, and labeled it the source of election fraud. (He could actually more credibly claim that elections held on Tuesdays have historically been subject to a certain level of fraud.) If Mr. Trump loses to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden, he hopes to have instilled a belief in at least a segment of his millions of followers – who seemingly believe anything he, his cohort and his propagandists at Fox News and other alt-right media trumpet – that the election was stolen from him (and them) by fraudulent mail-in voting. What happens if he refuses to concede despite a tight but discernable loss? Even if he departs, his claims of fraud are an attempt to create popular unrest with the potential to cripple a Biden Administration while continuing a media spotlight for Mr. Trump – the latter unquestionably his primary focus. But even if Mr. Trump wins, the recent demonstrations in Portland and elsewhere are a clear portent that if those opposing Mr. Trump believe that the Administration’s actions have stolen the election from them, riots will ensue across the nation. Mr. Trump will use these as a pretext to impose autocratic restraints upon those who oppose him. A close outcome in either direction accordingly seems likely to threaten the American way of life. I would suggest that in order to reclaim our future, Mr. Biden must not only win; the Democratic ticket must determine a way to win by decisive margins in a sufficient number of the battleground Electoral College states (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin) to yield an impressive Electoral College margin. I would submit that the Democrats need to wage their political war between now and Election Day on two fronts, and that at this stage, their overall success perhaps depends less upon the conventional – persuasion – and more upon the unconventional – education.
The conventional is straightforward: political professionals and pollsters of all stripes seemingly agree that although polls are starting to tighten, if all legally-eligible voters that wish to vote in November are actually able to vote and have their votes counted, Mr. Biden will defeat Mr. Trump in the Electoral College. I would assert that deep antipathy among the electorate toward Mr. Trump is “baked in.” Mr. Biden doesn’t need to win over any current Trump supporters to secure the presidency; he needs only a persuasion campaign to stave off material erosion in his current level of support. Unless either Mr. Biden or presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee and U.S. CA Sen. Kamala Harris commit a grotesque gaffe during their respective debates with their Republican counterparts, the Electoral College victory seems near at hand. Apparently reassuring – but I fear not enough by itself to secure a stable American future.
In my view, to facilitate Mr. Biden’s victory and enhance its legitimacy, the Democrats and their allies need to mount an extensive and effective education campaign – admittedly bordering on propaganda, to counteract the Trump and related alt-right barrage – to educate the electorate in the six battleground states regarding the states’ respective mail-in voting processes. Even where local officials are well-meaning, neither local governments nor battleground state Democratic organizations have the funding nor the expertise required to develop and broadcast sufficient effective informational spots to reassure an electorate that polls show has increasing reservations about mail-in voting. I see literally 25 different spots: Four for each of the battleground states, to be run in the states’ respective progressive and independent markets, which in turn address: (1) the given state’s voter registration requirements and deadlines, how to register online (all six allow online registration), and how a voter can obtain assistance for an in-person or online registration process; (2) the period within which the given state’s registered voters can request a ballot online, how to request a ballot, and any state nuances regarding the ballot’s completion; (3) a notice of the date by which registered voters should mail in their ballots to be confident that the votes will arrive in time to be tabulated; and (4) a notice that the date by which registered voters could confidently expect that their mailed-in votes would be tabulated has passed coupled with the observation that any eligible voters wishing to vote that haven’t already sent in their ballots should plan to vote in person, together with Coronavirus safety tips and information as to how the voter can find his/her voting place. A last spot should be run predominantly on Fox News and other conservative outlets in conservative markets nationwide and describe, primarily through Republican election officials, the incredibly low incidence of historic mail-in voting fraud and lay expectations that tabulation delays will necessarily attend anticipated massive mail-in voting.
The effort, expertise, and cost to create, produce and broadcast accurate infomercials in the appropriate outlets would be an enormously expensive proposition – generally beyond the grasp of any campaign. At the same time, if the content is appropriately cast, such spots would seem outside the proscriptions of campaign finance law. At one point during former New York City, NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign for the presidency, the New York Times reported that Mr. Bloomberg indicated that he “wouldn’t rule out” spending as much as $1 billion to defeat Mr. Trump. During his campaign, Mr. Bloomberg showed that he has not only the funds but the team expertise necessary to create effective campaign spots.
Mr. Bloomberg: Where are you?
2 thoughts on “Mr. Bloomberg: Where Are You?”
Jim, I think, in typical Trump fashion, the president has conflated two different issues and muddied the waters.
1). Fraud-Nonsense. There is little evidence of voter Fraud.
2). Problems with mail ballots. Here, there IS a problem, just not fraud. A review of the April primary in Wisconsin and the primary in New York for Carolyn Maloney’s seat shows the problem is twofold:
A). The length of time needed to count mail in ballots (in some jurisdictions, ballots cannot be counted until the day of the election). Unlike voting in person, where the poll workers help ensure voters have appropriate IDs, sign appropriately, fill in their ballots correctly, and tabulate the votes, mail in ballots must all be inspected WITHOUT the ability to correct errors. Without the assistance of poll workers, 10s of thousands of mail in ballots were rejected in the April primary in Wisconsin and the NY primary I mentioned above. In the Wisconsin case, the number of ballots rejected in a primary was greater than President Trump’s margin of victory in Wisconsin in 2016. Imagine a 2020 election where 100s of 1,000s of ballots are rejected across the country. Imagine if Trump wins again or Biden wins because votes for the other candidate are rejected because they are filled out incorrectly. It’s beyond imagining the lawsuits and the cries of “illegitimacy” that will come from the eventual “loser”, not matter which candidate he may be.
B). The second item relative to mail in ballots is the time it will take to review and tabulate correctly completed mail in ballots. The debacle in NY mentioned previously does not yet have a winner even though the vote was taken more than TWO months ago. Multiply that delay in counting by 435 congressional districts and you could not have a result until past the date the president from the 2016 is constitutionally no longer president. Now, that’s a constitutional crisis.
I hear regularly that mail voting is done without problems in certain places, such as Oregon, and that is, of course, true. However, Oregon has taken decades to perfect the process, infrastructure, and voter education to make mail voting work. Wisconsin, for example, on the other hand, has none of those things in place. This is a recipe for electoral and constitutional disaster.
The post office may be part of the problem and the president’s efforts to hamstring the post office is reprehensible. The problem is the even if the post office was a paragon of efficiency (which it is not), there are so many other obstacles to mail in voting success, such as voter mistakes and state and local voting rules. Merely wishing mail voting to work will not make it work. It will be a problem if timeliness and of inclusiveness.
Voting by mail in Wisconsin could follow the Oregon model and work smoothly and be timely. It’s just not now. My vote is too important to help defeat the crazy man in the White House. I want to ensure my vote is counted and counted early. I will be voting in person on Election night.
Per the NYT: Russia Targeted Election Systems in All 50 States, Report Finds
Personally, I’m equally worried about Russia hacking the election records. Everyone talks about Russian trying to influence voters but it seems their hacking efforts are too scary to be made public. And because of the Electoral College they only need to hack a couple of states — a few votes in the right place can effectively fix the results. The votes of millions of Americans could be outweighed by a few keystrokes in say two to four states. The Electoral College has been used to subvert the will of the majority since its inception giving slaveowners and later whites in the south during the Jim Crow era more votes in Congress than they would nominally have the right to have.