Citizen journalism gained respect through its reporting from war –zones. Portland, Oregon, with its liberal democratic ethos, is no war zone however much President Trump, posing as the upholder of law and order, makes it out to be one. Nor is this State about to conduct a fraudulent Presidential election. Others may be. Here is a recent letter from a woman friend living in Portland.
“I have become used to all those old white men surrounding Trump, but what irritates me is the blonde bimbos, all with the same figure and long blonde hair who are put up there as Press Secretaries, to answer questions, which of course is totally pointless because they just repeat the same old official lies from the White House. The misinformation about postal votes and the United State Postal Service (USPS) is a case in point.
At the moment, there is much justified outrage about what is happening with the postal service (USPS), which has trundled along well enough for many decades. About four months ago (May), the Board of the USPS, all put there by Trump, appointed a new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, a businessman best known for being a very large Republican donor to Trump's campaign with alleged conflict of interests from shares in a postal transport contractor. DeJoy promptly set about degrading the service by doing the following: banning overtime so mail carriers could no longer go out to deal with mail that was not able to be taken on the first round, and removing some of the large sorting machines in post offices. And he started to remove some of the blue mail boxes on the street where people drop their outgoing mail, which soon got noticed in rural States such as Montana and Maine. The reasons for all this destructive action are not mysterious; Trump hates vote by mail and almost every day spouts about how it creates voter fraud. It is predicted that many more voters in many States will want to vote by mail in November and of course if you can screw it up in any way possible, he will do so. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate Minority Leader, remarked that "Trump is trying to kneecap the USPS". I think it’s true.
Three weeks ago there was such an outcry that DeJoy has now backed down and stated in writing that no more changes will be made until after the election. On the other hand a lot of damage has already been done, both in processing capability and in the mind of the public. There is no commitment to put any of the sorting machines back in place. The House Democrats have now begun an investigation into Dejoy’s financial and fundraising dealings.
The big concern at the moment is best expressed by the title of an opinion piece in the New York Times, written by David Brooks. David Brooks used to be the paper's conservative commentator and is now usually referred to as a RINO - Republican in Name Only. Anyway his op-ed piece has the heading "What Will You Do if Trump Doesn't Leave ?" This is not just some wild left wing fantasy, but based upon the facts observed in other elections this year and previously. I will do my best to explain, though it is quite complicated.
This year, because of Covid-19, many, many States will have a large percentage of mail-in voters who do not want to go to the polls in person. Some states (Oregon, Washington and Colorado, and others) have been doing this for years, have a well-developed process and essentially deal with mail-in ballots quite rapidly, so that results can be declared the same night after the polls close or soon thereafter. In Oregon, which I know best, ballots are sent out to all registered voters with a quite large voter information brochure filled with candidate statements, several weeks before the election date. The voter fills in the ballot like a multiple choice test and sends it back. The election office routinely checks the voter rolls, the signature on the ballot and doubtless other items; this routine processing and checking can all be completed before election day and after the polls close, ballots are put through a scanner and votes are counted, but not until after polls close.
This is all very well but we have fifty different States, many with a track record of voter suppression, and each one has different rules, not to mention the fact that many of them have very little experience in handling mail-in ballots. In Oregon the ballot must be received by the election office before polls close at 8 pm. on election day. In some States, it is the postmark on the ballot envelope that counts, not the date received; others require a voter to specifically request an absentee ballot and by a certain date. In some states the election office is not even permitted to check ballots received versus voter rolls until after polls close on election day, so in those States the process has not even started. Obviously, this problem could be solved very simply by instructing the 'novice' states to follow a process used by the expert ones, but that is not about to happen. To me, it seems crazy that we have a federal election without federal rules, but that is the way things are.
Why does all this matter? The implication is that some States may take days, if not weeks, to finish processing mail-in ballots. And that might not matter except for the fact that Trump has been ranting about non-existent voter fraud to the extent that Republican voters are more likely to vote in person than Democrats. Hence, the mail-in ballots according to estimates might contain 75% Democrat votes and 25% Republican. So, if you think through what might happen in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina, the initial vote tallies based on numbers at the polling stations might show Trump with a significant lead, which diminishes day by day as the mail-in votes are counted. This so-called blue lag has actually been documented in some previous elections this year. You can imagine for yourself the type of things that Trump might say on Twitter if the initial poll counts show that he has won certain States, but in reality those States are just slow or incompetent in counting. So that is why David Brooks and a lot of other rational people in this country are concerned about election-day totals.
But time to get back to my laundry”.
See also TheArticle 11/09/2020
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