September 16th, 2020

Harriet Vane

Voter suppression proceeds apace; situation dire; US federal gov't a kakis [=crap] tocracy

There is a news-story of over-riding importance and it was on Democracynow.org or Amy Goodman's news hour.

The Trump junta, together with continual help from courts filled with Trump-appointees (due to the incessant activity of Mitch McConnell who appointed 200 federal judges in the past session) is succeeding in what may turn out to be mass voter disenfranchisement.  The methods are several: 1) sow voter confusion so voters don't know what to do or how to vote; 2) use the post office and other means to stop the mailing out of ballots, use courts to invalidate ballots that are sent out; inside states to reduce the number of polling stations to absurdly low numbers 3) go against the voted will of the people and in effect open disenfranchise thousands whom the voters have now given back their right to vote: in Florida after an election returned to people who had been oonvicted of a felony, the right to vote, the Florida Republican controlled legislature requires by law all these people pay fines (apparently when you go to jail you end up owing a lot of money) before they can vote.

Make it that the day of election ends in uncertainty with weeks to ascertain who won by forbidding early counting of votes -- remember Republicans are controlling state legislatures and courts in many states (and in the senate their representation of US people is 13%):

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/9/15/ari_berman_voting_rights

Highlights:

FLORIDA:  It was a really pivotal decision in Florida, because in 2018 64% of Floridians approved a law restoring voting rights to people with past felony convictions. Before that, Florida prevented one in 10 people, including one in five African Americans, from voting. Then, the GOP Legislature said that people with past felony convictions have to pay off all fines, fees and restitution to be able to vote, which the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which now has a Trump majority because Trump appointed five justices to that court, upheld that law.

What it means in practice is that, according to studies, 775,000 people in Florida still owe money on their sentences and might not be able to vote. And remember, Amy, this was a state decided by 537 votes in 2000. So we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people maybe not being able to vote in Florida, who should have had their rights restored, in a state that’s been decided by only a few hundred votes in the past.

WISCONSIN:  It went down to the wire in Wisconsin because the Green Party filed late to try to get on the ballot. So, there was a dispute, first, with the Wisconsin Elections Commission of whether they should be on the ballot. And then the question was: Should they delay sending hundreds of thousands of ballots to put the Green Party on the ballot?

And the Wisconsin Supreme Court basically said, “We’re not deciding this on the merits of whether they should be on the ballot. It’s just too late to add them to the ballot.” Tens of thousands of ballots have already gone out. Hundreds of thousands of more are going out this week. There’s been over a million absentee ballot requests in Wisconsin. And this week is the day that they start sending them out en masse.

So, I think this decision adding the Green Party to the ballot would have led to major voter confusion in Wisconsin, in that a lot of people who got a ballot would have had to then get another one. And there was a risk that they would be very confused, that some people might vote twice, or some people might not vote at all. So, irrespective of the merits of whether the Green Party should be on the ballot, I think election officials in Wisconsin are breathing a sigh a relief that they don’t have to print new ballots and they can send the ballots that have already been requested out on time

IOWA:
in Iowa, the Democratic counties, in particular, decided to, on their own, send absentee ballot requests to voters. So, in places like Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, the Democratic auditors decided to send these ballots. To make it easier, they filled in personal information, because Iowa passed a new voter ID law, and one of the provisions of that law is you have to have a PIN for your driver’s license on your absentee ballot, and a lot of people don’t know what that number is. So, the auditors tried to make this process easier for voters by filling in the information, including their driver’s license PIN number, which nobody knows what that is.

And instead of saying, “Hey, thank you for making it easier for people to vote,” in response to a lawsuit by the Trump campaign, the courts have now invalidated absentee ballot requests in the most Democratic counties in the state. So, this is very confusing for voters, because imagine that you requested an absentee ballot, and now you think you’re getting one in the mail, and now you’re going to have to get a — do that whole process over again, 50 days or less before the election. And so, it just adds more uncertainty into the process. And people are already confused about how to vote in this election, and these court decisions making it harder to vote are not helping things right now.

PENNSYLVANIA and COLORADO: talk also about Pennsylvania. I mean, it seems like, across the country, if the Republican Party sues, it simply delays absentee ballots from going out, even if they’re going to ultimately lose. So, talk about what’s happening in Pennsylvania. Then, in Colorado, if you could explain what’s happening there, a federal judge ordering the U.S. Postal Service to immediately stop sending mailers that contain false information? And then talk about McConnell and the U.S. Postal Service.

So, first off, in Pennsylvania, there’s a ton of litigation right now. The Trump campaign is litigating, for example, to try to prevent voters from dropping off their ballots at drop boxes to avoid postal delays. There’s disputes over whether you should be able to start counting mailed ballots before the election. Right now you can’t, which means it could take longer for the votes to count. And actually, Republicans are refusing to allow votes to be counted earlier, because they want uncertainty in terms of the process. So, there’s a lot of litigation in Pennsylvania. Ballots have not gone out there, either. And this is, of course, a really pivotal swing state.

In Colorado, what happened was the post office sent mailers to all 50 states, basically telling people, “If you request an absentee ballot, request it early.” The problem in Colorado is that you don’t have to request an absentee ballot, that they actually automatically send ballots to all registered voters. They also can turn around ballots quicker because it’s a vote-by-mail state. So, what election officials were angry about in Colorado and other states is that the post office sent this one-size-fits-all mailer to all voters, as opposed to making it state specific, because the voting laws in Colorado are very different than the voting laws in New York. And election officials told the post office this is going to confuse voters, this is going to end up being a form of voter suppression. The post office didn’t listen. Now there’s an injunction against them.

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 Keep in mind too that the people running all the vital agencies are now utter sycophants, rotten people, those who are opposed to the missions of these agencies; when they are not (as doctors in the CDC) they are silenced or fired.  Masha Gessen in her crucially truthful book about what has happened to the US gov't federally (and in states: Surviving Autocracy, calls this kakistocracy. It's an older word, comes from describing regimes well before the French revolution where the worst kind of people are put in charge and given the ability to desseminate false information and stir up rumors that cause riots.

Separate stories to keep in mind:  the police unions are all in favor of Trump; they are determined to continue to shot people dead if they feel like it with impunity - they have been showing this the last few weeks. There is evidence that Nazi like tactics are being used in the prisons which detain refugees at the southern border of the US (including enforced sterilization of women prisoners). (Children still kept there separate from parents.)  If Trump wanted to pull off a coup, what he needs is a ruthless militia everywhere.  Overt refusals to arrest white men going around with armed weapons simply killing black people; police killed an older man said to be an anti-fascist who killed a rightist type -- with no warrant for his arrest, no court trial. The false idea (analogous to the idea the coronavirus is a hoax invented by democrats and the press) the total climate catastrophes, massive fires, happening in California and Oregon, are set by anti-fascist arsonists. I suspect those who say they believe these things don't but profess to.

Miss Drake