Terry H. Schwadron
OK, Donald Trump is insisting that “The Election should END on November 3,” even willing to slap the Supreme Court justices around, including his own appointees, for allowing the count to continue for nine days in North Carolina.
Of course, the voting will stop tomorrow, just as he wants.
It’s the count of late-arriving mail ballots that will continue. The rulings in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and elsewhere concern the count, not the vote. Only ballots postmarked by tomorrow night will be eligible to count.
In a 3 a.m. tweet, Trump, who has moved beyond his predictions of widespread fraud from mail ballots, argued that “This decision is CRAZY and so bad for our Country. Can you imagine what will happen during that nine-day period. The Election should END on November 3rd.”
Actually, what will happen during those nine days is vote counting. Otherwise, why do we have elections at all? The alternative, as monarchies and dynasties have shown, is that a Trump-like figure would just tell us who’s the king.
As it happens, many states have taken days to count all of their ballots. This year, it seems obvious that election officials may need extra time for counting solely because there is a flood of mail ballots as a result of concern about pandemic.
Nevertheless, those orders by Trump’s postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, had the effect of slowing mail delivery. That prompted state officials to create alternatives, including drop-off sites and, yes, postponing the count deadline.
What Is He Talking About?
Regardless of those rules, voting ends on Nov. 3, making Trump’s tantrums yet more curious.
I’d guess that most of these mail ballots have already been sent or dropped off. It may be that the arguments are over a very little actual vote that could change a result.
Of course, Trump isn’t really arguing about the count deadline. He wants loyalty from the three justices he put on the Supreme Court, just as he wants absolute loyalty to whatever he utters aloud from all appointees, whether medical doctors, hurricane forecasters or senators.
As things stand, the Court has supported extending the count deadline in Pennsylvania and North Carolina but not Wisconsin. Minnesota is forgoing an extension too. And voters in one Pennsylvania county say about half the requested mail ballots never arrived, forcing them to vote physically.
What Trump wants is to win – at any cost to the sanctity of actual voting or for the health of voters in a time of the pandemic.
As always, Trump’s contorted attack on mail ballots is based more on a desire to suppress votes for his opposition – or perceived opposition – than on fact. At base, he argues, the distribution of mail ballots and mail ballot applications in at least five new states this year as an alternative to standing for hours in line to vote at a reduced number of polling places is an invitation to fraud.
The White House took control of a local mistake in a county office in Pennsylvania in September in which nine ballots not protected by a special envelope were discarded. That blew up into “evidence” of widespread fraud, generating court challenges against mail ballots across the country.
The Bottom Line
By comparison, 550,000 ballots were disqualified during the presidential primaries this year, according to an analysis by National Public Radio. “This sort of sweeping disenfranchisement—most often the result of missing signatures or improperly sealed envelopes—should concern anyone who believes that every vote should count.
But Trump’s agenda is not to fix our electoral problems; Trump’s agenda is to scare away enough voters to win or sow enough doubt in the minds of those who do vote to preemptively justify a loss,” noted Politico.
In the end, Trump supporters say in interview after interview that the only way Trump can lose is if the other side cheats. “If Trump loses, the Supreme Court needs to call a new election. They should investigate all these ballots that have been thrown out and give him four more years on that basis alone. They’re trying to cheat him out of office,” one named supporter told Politico.
The other side seems now to include the Supreme Court – which actually has indicated it may well find in favor of challenges of mail ballots– any concern about coronavirus, mail ballots and the governors of both parties who have allowed them to increase, as well as Democrats.
I’d mail Trump a complaint about his illogic, but he might not receive it.