During the 2020 election, liberal pundits and politicians repeatedly warned that democracy was “on the line,” “at stake,” “in peril,” and facing “an existential threat.” There was occasion for the hyperbolic language: Donald Trump and his Republican allies orchestrated an unprecedented assault on the integrity of U.S. elections by, to list just a few examples, promulgating ludicrous lies about voter fraud, obstructing early mail-in voting, encouraging vigilante voter intimidation, and constricting access to polls. But critics risk succumbing to a liberal version of “Make America Great Again” nostalgia if they assume Trump’s departure from office will solve our democratic crisis.
Protests demanding that every outstanding vote in the presidential election be counted have sprung up in major US cities, including New York City, Portland, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis and Seattle. The demonstrations followed the conclusion of Tuesday’s vote and President Donald Trump’s false declarations that he already won the election before millions of mail-in and absentee ballots had yet to be counted. As of this writing, Trump remains behind in several key states including Nevada and Arizona. If former vice president Joe Biden...
“Don’t let Trump steal the election!” warned graphics shared on social media inviting protesters to a National Day of Protest for a People’s Mandate in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The mandate sought to address what organizers from the National Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression called a “triple pandemic” of racism, COVID-19, and economic recession. Earlier that day, before all votes from the 2020 elections had been counted, the 45th President prematurely declared victory in at least three states.
The richest and most powerful country on earth — whether due to ineptitude, choice or some combination of both — has no ability to perform the simple task of counting votes in a minimally efficient or confidence-inspiring manner. As a result, the credibility of the voting process is severely impaired, and any residual authority the U.S. claims to “spread” democracy to lucky recipients of its benevolence around the world is close to obliterated. At 7:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the day after the 2020 presidential elections, the results of the presidential race, as well as control of the Senate, are very much in doubt and in chaos.
In this seventh installment of the Deception 2020 Series, we dig into literal and figurative levers of electoral power. How legit are our elections? And if they aren't, what are we even saying when we say "we're having an election?" Activist Comedian Lee Camp joins us to dig into they specific and myriad ways in which our elections are deeply and bipartisanly rigged.
Tennessee - In June, large crowds of Black Lives Matter protesters occupied the plaza in front of Tennessee's State Capitol, where inside, a 44-inch bust of the first Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard, Nathan Bedford Forrest, has sat still in his bronze bearing for over 40 years. A line of state troopers stood silently on the other side of the encampment, making arrests and dragging protesters away. Those who remained chained themselves to the property, chanting and playing Kendrick Lamar through loudspeakers, annoying representatives inside the capitol, and making it clear—they were not leaving until the immortalizing bust of the KKK's first leader was removed or Governor Bill Lee would meet with them.
The election was stolen from Clinton four years ago and the even weaker 2020 candidate can expect the same fate. Republicans win the presidency when they steal votes. Democrats need a huge turnout to undo the impact of so-called “spoiled ballots,” electronic vote machine theft and the removal of Democratic voters, i.e. Black people, from the rolls. These methods will of course be used in November and ought to be the basis for concerns regarding any electoral malfeasance. It is important to remember the real electoral threats when Donald Trump decides to have fun with America’s collective reptile brain. When he tweeted that he might postpone the election, people who should have known better immediately began responding with anger and fear.
The escalating COVID-19 pandemic impacts all of us, but for Black and brown people in particular, the combined health and economic devastation is truly terrifying. Communities of color have higher rates of asthma, less access to health care centers, are more likely to live in food deserts, and are among the most vulnerable in the face of this virus. The workers most on edge in our economy—and most likely to lose their jobs—are predominantly Black and brown. Most Americans lack even $400 of savings to call upon in times of crisis, and that lack of wealth is even more pronounced for Black and brown communities. Crises reveal deeper realities of power and inequity that have always been present but are often papered over in ordinary times. The conflagration of economic crisis and ailing communities may have been sparked by the novel coronavirus, but the kindling for this fire has been laid by conservatives and liberals alike with the policy choices of the past 40 years.
As footage of Wisconsin's crowded polling stations flooded the internet Tuesday, public health officials and civil rights advocates condemned the state's Supreme Court and Republican legislative leaders for allowing in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic and thwarting Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' last-minute efforts to address voter safety concerns. "It's not going to be a safe election. People are going to get sick from this," Brook Soltvedt, a 60-year-old textbook editor who is in charge of running the polling place at Thoreau Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin's capital, told The Cap Times. Soltvedt added that though she thinks "the city has done about the best that they can do," she worries that the election will cause voter confusion and health consequences.
Seventeen years after Oregon decided to become the first state to hold all elections with mail-in ballots, it took another pioneering step on Monday to broaden participation by automatically registering people to vote. Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill that puts the burden of registration on the state instead of voters. Under the legislation, every adult citizen in Oregon who has interacted with the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division since 2013 but hasn't registered to vote will receive a ballot in the mail at least 20 days before the next statewide election. The measure is expected to add about 300,000 new voters to the rolls. "It just changes expectations for who's responsible for making elections work," said Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and director of the Elections Research Center.
Our article in Truthout last week, Top Ten Epic Reasons Why You Should Give a Sh*t About Voting, elicited quite a few comments from readers voicing concern that ballots may not be correctly or honestly counted by our "black box" computer voting systems - and we would never know. The Internet is already roaring with stories of visible attacks on democracy so far in the 2014 elections: 40,000 mostly minority voters purged from Georgia's voter roles and thousands more in 26 other states, up to 600,000 Texas voters disenfranchised due to new Voter ID laws, and the attempts to override the electoral college in gerrymandered blue states like Michigan. Electronic voting systems are actually failing and breaking down nationwide, creating long voting lines and the risk of votes lost to error and malfunction. We can fight this fraud because we can see it, like the part of the iceberg that is above the water. But yes, there is more below.
Just when it seemed like our voting system couldn’t be any more corrupt, it rises to the challenge. Millions of Americans are unable to vote in these Midterm Elections because they’re being accused of “Double Voting.” The so-called “Voter Purge” makes it impossible in over half the states in the union to vote, if you have the same name as someone else in another state. And since almost no one votes in Midterm elections, let alone twice, the Redacted Team illustrates step-by-step how this new form of voter suppression works.
In 2011, my organization, the Brennan Center for Justice, calculated that the first wave of these new laws, if implemented, could have made it far harder for five million citizens to vote. At first, the judiciary seemed to recognize that risk. In the run up to the 2012 election, courts around the country routinely blocked or postponed the new voting regulations. On Election Day, few of those disenfranchising laws were in effect. Then last year, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in. In Shelby County v. Holder, it gutted the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act by neutering its requirement, under Section 5 of the law, that states with a history of discrimination clear changes to voting regulations with a court or the Justice Department. The court was bitterly divided, five to four. During oral argument in February 2013, Justice Antonin Scalia called the Voting Rights Act little more than a “racial entitlement.”
A year after a conservative U.S. Supreme Court majority gutted the crown jewel of the civil rights movement, the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA), the nation’s foremost voting rights attorneys say that racial discrimination in voting is rampant, especially in southern states where the the VRA helped to ensure access to the ballot. “We are in a very, very dangerous time for our democracy,” said Barbara Arnwine, the president and executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which convened 25 hearings across the country since last fall and heard testimony from more than 400 people about how the Supreme Court was wrong to assert that the U.S. had evolved past its decades of discriminatory voting practices. “If you control who votes and where they vote, you control the power,” said Leon Russell, Vice-Chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, speaking Wednesday at a press conference, where the Lawyers Committee, NAACP, Demos, League of Young Voters and others issued a comprehensive report on ongoing voting barriers before and after the 2013 Court ruling gutting the VRA, Shelby County v. Holder.