This week’s debate brought home the bitter medicine that is the reality of Donald Trump, the uncontrollable, hateful, spoiled brat of a man who is our president.
Trump made crystal clear that he is not only an unhinged racist, but that his only cohesive plan for the future is to steal this election.
He plans to do this by rushing through a new Supreme Court Justice who will solidify a five-person rubber stamp majority to stop mail-in votes from being counted after Election Day, when he intends to declare victory based on the initial results of those who vote in person. Trump is dispatching an army of lawyers to monitor mail-in vote counting and challenge millions of ballots for tiny technical infractions.
Trump also, notoriously. appointed Louis DeJoy, a political hatchet man to head the Post Office, who proceeded to dismantle sorting machines and remove mailboxes to slow down the delivery of mail-in ballots.
Trump knows that a national poll last month showed that 47% of Biden supporters said they planned to vote by mail, while only 11% of Trump supporters said they would do so.
With this in mind, Trump recently said, “we’re counting on the federal court system to make it so we can actually have an evening where we know who wins, ok? Not where the votes are going to be counted a week later, or 2 weeks later.”
Trump said this with full knowledge that states are legally required to do their best to process and count all valid mail-in ballots for up to a month or so after Election Day. In fact, every American citizen has a legal right to have his or her ballot counted. This is, after all, how democracy is supposed to work.
In a normal election, one in which normal candidates agreed to step down if they lost the legal vote, the message that Democrats have been sending to citizens to vote by mail for safety from the coronavirus would make sense.
But this is not a normal election. As Yale historian Timothy Snyder, a top authority on Nazism and Stalinism told the Washington Post last week, “It’s an election surrounded by the authoritarian language of a coup d’état. The opposition has to win the election and it has to win the aftermath of the election.”
At the debate this week, it became clear that Biden now realizes that encouraging Democrats to vote by mail plays right into Trump’s sinister scheme.
In some swing states, sending mail-in ballots early or even dropping them off in a ballot box or polling place may not increase the likelihood that they will be counted by Election night, at which time Trump plans to unilaterally declare victory based on the near-immediate tabulation of polling station machines.
The president will then begin a relentless, mob-inciting campaign to challenge all subsequent vote counting.
The only way to thwart Trump’s plan to steal this election is for able-bodied Biden supporters who live in swing states (this year Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin might swing either way) to vote in person at the polls and not by mail-in ballots. Many states allow early voting in person (see a comprehensive list here), which helps reduce lines. Early votes at polling places, unlike mail-in ballots, will all be counted by machines by the end of Election Day.
It is also important for citizens in swing states to understand (and our political leaders to communicate) that all states allow in-person voting at the polls, even for citizens who have ordered and received mail-in ballots.
Some states require people to bring their blank mail-in ballot to the polling place and surrender it, unfilled, before voting at the voting machine in person. This is not the same thing as dropping off a filled out mail-in ballot, which, in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan has little chance of getting counted on November 3.
A comprehensive list of when mail-in ballots can be counted in each state can be found here.
The safeguards that stop people from voting twice make it a simple matter to show up for democracy at the polls in person. By masking up, getting in line and changing their minds about mail-in voting, tens of millions of Americans can stop Trump’s illicit power grab by making sure their votes are counted.
This is why the most important comment Biden made at Tuesday’s debate was to look into the camera at the American people and implore us, unequivocally: “Show up and vote. You will determine the outcome of this election. Vote, vote, vote. If you’re able to vote early in your state, vote early. If you’re able to vote in person, vote in person.”