Nel's New Day

June 25, 2021

Heat Builds Up in Weather, Voting

Over a month ago, conservative columnist Mark Thiessen wrote one of his evidence-free pieces for the Washington Post, this one about how the U.S. has no problem with drought. He cherry-picked a few facts, including this one from “NOAA figures”—“the past fifty years have been slightly wetter than average” in the United States. 

The new administration recognizes the serious problems of climate change, but those clinging to the unscientific beliefs of the old one are deeply entrenched in denial. They won’t associate the abnormal June heat waves with climate change, but fence sitters may develop an understanding for the seriousness of the problem.

For the second year in a row, Russia saw record-breaking heat north of the Arctic Circle as the country heats up twice as fast as the rest of the world. The land surface temperature in Siberia rose as high as 118 degrees on June 20. The result is record-low sea ice along Siberia’s coastline. Some of the areas are warmer by 16 degrees and severe wildfires burned through Siberia in the past two years.

Last September, a huge Greenland glacier, twice the size of Manhattan and the second largest in the world behind Antarctica, disintegrated. Melting ice in the next eight decades will cause sea levels to rise by over three feet, erasing beaches and coastal properties.

Last summer and fall marked the least area covered by sea ice ever recorded in the Arctic Ocean, unprecedented in at least 1,000 years. The drop has disastrous effects for the planet beyond the sea rise causing storm surges, flooding, and infrastructure costs throughout the world. With higher pH than freshwater, seawater from collapsing ice sheets causes ocean acidification impacting fisheries. In one example, over 80 percent of northeast Arctic cod may be eliminated, dropping the economy from a catch from $285 million to $36 million in eight decades.  

Snow and ice are part of the circular cooling of the earth: less ice, more energy absorbed by land and water which is then translated into heat, blocking an increase of ice. Melting permafrost releases carbon dioxide and methane, accelerating global warming, and diseases from past centuries are released from the thawed permafrost.

Before the end of June, a second heat wave is hitting the western United States. The one last week in the Southwest moved east, and at least 4,000 new temperatures were set this year, including every square inch of Arizona, according to the National Weather Service in Flagstaff. Palm Springs (CA) hit 123 degrees, and Phoenix and other Arizona areas were at least 120 degrees.

Like the current heat wave hitting the Northwest this coming weekend, a heat dome formed by high pressure in the upper atmosphere has put a lid on the area, trapping the hot air. The air sinks down, compresses, and heats up more while the dome blocks clouds and storms which otherwise would provide relief from the sun’s rays. The feedback loop creates longer and more intense heat waves. Temperatures in the next three to seven days will be unusually high—for example, 113 degrees in Portland at a time when normal June highs are in the mid-70s.

The result of this extreme weather can be death from drought, wildfires, and lack of refrigeration. Normal storm systems can’t get under the dome, lack of rain dries up reservoirs, crops suffer, and forests and shrubbery kindle fires. People end up with a shortage of food and water if they don’t burn up in their homes.

With less flow from the Colorado River, Lake Mead (right), supplying water for 25 million people in three Southwestern states and Mexico, is at 36 percent capacity, the lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. Arizona will lose one-fifth of its water allotment. The Folsom Lake near Sacramento (CA) is so low that a plane from a 1986 crash appeared. 

It’s not summer yet, and Mark Thiessen says our only choice is to “adapt.” Yet conservatives don’t want any adaptation which would requires conservation of resources, infrastructure redesign, and energy grids that don’t fail with the slightest provocation, as currently in Texas. Ranchers are selling their sheep and cattle early, and dairy farmers are selling their cattle because they can’t come up with the daily 50 gallons of water each animal needs. Farmers are leaving portions of their land fallow. The result is higher prices from less supply. Adaptation will be difficult.

Another heated problem this summer is voting rights. A divided 6th Circuit Court panel replaced a Tennessee law prohibiting first-time voters from using absentee ballots.  

The decision overturned a lower ruling. The Tennessee Supreme Court had permitted anyone with a “special vulnerability to Covid-19” to vote via absentee ballot in the 2020 election. The NAACP argued that the situation can be repeated, but the judicial majority called the pandemic a “unique factual situation.” The judge, a George W. Bush appointment, was joined by a Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appointee. In her dissent, the third judge, appointed by Bill Clinton, accused her colleagues of “haphazardly wielding the law and the facts.”

Following the insistence that fraud stole the election from DDT, Michigan Senate Oversight Committee investigated the election in their state for almost eight months. The GOP-majority group, led by a Republican, issued a 55-page report finding absolutely “no evidence of widespread or systemic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election.” According to the report, “Citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan.” Every Republican on the committee adopted he report.

Falsehoods debunked by the GOP investigation:

  • Dead people voted;
  • Hundreds of thousands of unsolicited absentee ballots were sent to Michigan voters;
  • A machine error switched votes in Antrim County;
  • Tabulators at the TCF Center in Detroit, where absentee ballots were counted, were connected to the internet which allowed tampering by outside parties.
  • “Fractional voting;”
  • Over 100 percent voter turnout in any Michigan precinct.  

The irony of the investigative report is that it supports anti-voting bills such as preventing the secretary of state from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot applications to registered voters. Proposed GOP bills also want more GOP poll workers in Detroit and canvassers to be present during the process as a stall to counting ballots as well as locking drop boxes before polling locations close. The Michigan House has passed bills for voter ID and signature matching. Other introduced legislation creates an “audit board” to hire an outside firm to review ballots, voting machines, and poll books, targeting the Democratic stronghold of Detroit.

The state’s GOP precinct delegates have called on the party leadership to fire Michigan GOP Executive Director Jason Cabel Roe because he told Politico last year that “the election wasn’t stolen” and only DDT was to blame for his loss.

Regarding dead people voting, the committee probed the only two claims they found. One was a clerical error; the other was a woman who died after she cast her vote but a few days before the election. A video purportedly showing late-night “ballot dumps” was of a news photographer moving his gear, not ballots. Despite the report showing no fraud in the election, Republicans are pushing almost 40 anti-voting bills.  DDT’s supporters rallied on the state Capitol steps calling on the GOP for an audit of the presidential election, exonerated by the legislative Republicans. Over 250 election audits in the state affirmed the results submitted to the Electoral College, including a human error in Antrim County quickly corrected. DDT carried Antrim by 61 percent. The report also called on the AG to investigate “utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends.”

In Arizona, the counters finished looking at 2.1 million ballots, and the process has turned to the 70,000-80,000 tally sheets, verifying the data. Cyber Ninjas’ counters have compiled 15 subtotals, points of comparison, with official totals for each candidate, according to the leadership of the Ninjas’ CEO Doug Logan. Official 2020 election records used 10,341 subtotals as its benchmark, a spreadsheet of all votes. GOP Senate President Karen Fann is still debating whether to do another count as comparison to the hand counts from the past two months. Don’t expect any results until at least August.

Several prominent Republicans in Arizona, once approving the “fraudit” fiasco, now oppose it. Conservative talk show host, who initially approved the idea, says the Arizona audit is a disaster for the GOP. He said:

“If we are going to let this audit define the Republican Party, which we are doing right now in Arizona, I think it’s going to be big trouble.”

According to a QAnon conspiracies, a GOP Maricopa Supervisor, Clinton Hickman, fed shredded ballots to the chickens at his family’s egg farm. One of his barns burned down, killing 162,000 chickens, leading to the false accusation that it was his way of destroying ballots.

In a Monmouth University poll, only 33 percent of people in the U.S. see the project as legitimate, and even they have no evidence for their belief. In the survey, 57 percent agreed the audits were partisan-based with the goal of questioning the election’s validity. Forty percent think this type of audits weaken democracy, twice as many as those who believe it strengthens it. Another 50 percent of respondents think voter disenfranchisement from red state laws is a bigger issue.

June 22, 2021

Voting Filibuster, Round One

Today, to the surprise of no one, GOP senators unanimously blocked any debate on the voting rights reform bill although Democrats unanimously voted in favor of addressing the measure. In the struggle to allow all eligible people have the right to vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and recalcitrant Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) struck a compromise to unify Democrats. Manchin, the only Senate Dem to oppose the House voting bill, created an alternative bill accepted by some Republicans until Georgia’s former Dem gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams endorsed it. GOP senators whirled away from an initial approval, changing their name for the new proposal from Manchin to “Stacey Abrams.” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), opposed to overriding the 60-percent filibuster, had earlier approved of the House bill.

The filibuster has nothing to do with the final passage of the bill; it blocks even debating it on the Senate floor. Manchin’s statement:

“Today I will vote ‘YES’ to move to debate this updated voting legislation as a substitute amendment to ensure every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot and participate in our great democracy.”

Manchin does support these provisions:

  • Making Election Day a public holiday;
  • mandating at least 15 consecutive days for early voting in federal election;
  • Banning gerrymandering;
  • Setting up voter registration through state motor vehicle departments;
  • Backing tighter campaign finance requirements, including requiring online and digital ads to disclose their sources, imposing tighter ethics requirements for presidents and vice presidents, and requiring campaigns and committees to report foreign contacts.

He proposes voter ID requirements, but with the alternative such as utility bills for identity, and does not endorse no-excuse absentee voting. West Virginia does not have no-excuse absentee voting, but its rules for excuses are much more lenient than other states that require it. 

Sinema’s excuses for supporting the filibuster are both irrational and untrue. She attributed the filibuster to the Founding Fathers, a common excuse for people attempt to justify the unjustifiable. In 1789, the first U.S. Senate in 1789 adopted rules allowed a simply majority vote to end debate and proceed to a vote with no alternative method of ending debate. Without any rules for terminating debate, Whig senators filibustered in 1837 and another one in 1841. The formal rule was created in 1917 with a two-thirds requirement for cloture because President Woodrow Wilson wanted to arm merchant vessels.

Most of the filibusters during the mid-20th century were from Southern Democrats blocking civil rights legislation. The filibuster changed to 60 percent in 1975 with the election of 61 Democrats and one independent in the Senate, but the number 60 was required no matter how many senators were absent for voting. Oddly enough, a simple majority of senators can change this rule. 

In the 19th century, a filibuster lasted only as long as the filibustering senators talked to the entire Senate. The end of the talking led to debate moving on to a vote. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed after a 75-hour filibuster, including Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-WV) speech lasting 14 hours and 13 minutes. In only the second time since 1927, a bill went on for a vote.bEven when filibuster use dramatically increased in the 1970s, the Senate had only 413 by 1990. The last 12 years, however, have seen its use almost 600 times—now for preventing any debate. Used to stall business until the next Senate is elected, a filibuster can stop the Senate from addressing any issues on the floor for up to a week. A bill proving medical care for 9/11 responders, supported by a majority of senators, died from filibusters.

Because filibusters tend to come from small GOP states, senators representing as little as 11 percent of the population can block the Senate as a whole from doing business. The 21 smallest states with two GOP Senators, giving that party 42 votes to maintain a filibuster, have 29 percent of the U.S. population. Those 21 states can override the population of 71 percent of the population in the other 29 states. Republicans might want to be more cautious about their constant filibusters: the 21 smallest states with two Democratic senators represent 39 percent of the population, meaning they could block GOP legislation for 61 percent of the population. The result is gridlock because Republicans refuse to compromise.

Sinema’s argument to block the filibusters asserts that any bill passed without it could then be overturned by Republicans in the future. According to that position, no bill should be passed because all of them can be overturned, those dealing with domestic abuse, clean air and water, healthcare, Social Security, gun safety, etc. In short, the Senate would pass nothing because Republicans are always ready to overturn laws that help the population and give people rights. Lasting laws—including Social Security and the Affordable Care Act—have a majority popularity and thus last from one GOP administration to another. Republicans have failed to overturn the ACA for 11 years, Social Security for 86 years.  

In 2021, Manchin protests the loss of the filibuster because he wants to be bipartisan with a party refusing to compromise. In 2011, Manchin just as vigorously opposed the filibuster:

“West Virginians deserve a government that works for them, and they are understandably frustrated with the way things get done—or don’t—in Washington.”

In 2011, Manchin cosponsored Senate Resolution 20 which allowed elimination of the filibuster to block debate and secret holds, permission for both majority and minority leaders to offer up to three relevant amendments on behalf of their members, and the mandate that senators speak on the floor for a filibuster.

Republicans are in a panic about any federal bill allowing voting eligibility: they are all convinced they will lose control if all eligible voters are permitted for participate in selecting their representatives. Their strategy is not to broaden their base but to narrow the pool of voters. The House bill sent to the Senate was written before the 2020 general election, but its results sent the GOP into pure terror.

In their attempt to stop people from voting, 18 states have thus far enacted over 30 anti-voter laws affecting 36 million people, 15 percent of all eligible voters. Laws restrict access to mail voting, create problems for voters’ registration, impose new ID requirements, and expand legal definitions of criminal behavior by voters, election officials, and third parties.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said he was focused “100 percent” on blocking Biden, called a bill to allow voting “craven political calculation.”

The GOP work against democracy reflects the 19th century. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) declared that “Jim Crow laws came out of democracy,” but they came from selecting government leaders from insurrection and violence. The new laws are trying to revert to the 18th century when women, Blacks, and non-landowners could not participate in selecting their representatives.

Texas AG Ken Paxton openly bragged about restricting voters by saying “Donald Trump would’ve lost the [Texas] election” if he hadn’t blocked mail-in ballots in Harris County, actually unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots. In Texas and other red states, “election integrity” literally means blocking access to the ballot by any means, especially in Democratic-learning and nonwhite areas.

Republicans no longer have any policy: they just demand power and will obtain it by any means.

The bad news for Republicans is they are accidentally suppressing GOP voters. Most of the new laws, for example mandatory IDs and limits on drop-box and early voting hours, could restrict Black voters, but limiting mail balloting may block GOP voting. Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) lies about fraudulent vote-by-mail probably stopped many Republicans from voting, especially because the GOP has an older White population. This demographic has a higher proportion of voters by mail. 

In one bright light of the voting controversy, Vermont expanded voting rights. The state will mail ballots to all registered voters and permit them to “cure” or fix incorrectly submitted or defective ballot. Nevada also expanded mail-in voting to all registered voters.

Satirist Andy Borowitz’s humor column wrote the McConnell complained about the federal voting bill would take the U.S. “to the brink of democracy.”

Borowitz continued:

“Noting that the word ‘democracy’ originated in ancient Greece, [McConnell] vowed, ‘I will not sit idly by and watch a foreign form of government sneak across our border.’ …

“’The people who voted for us did not vote for us so that other people could vote for other people,’ he said.”

Despite obstructionism from Manchin and Sinena, the rest of the Democrats are not quitting on the U.S. people. During the Senate two-week vacation for the Fourth of July, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Rules Committee, plans a series of field hearings, drawing attention to the GOP anti-voting laws and “the urgent need to pass critical voting, campaign finance, and ethics reforms.” The Georgia event will “hear testimony on the recently enacted legislation to restrict voting in the state.”

April 6, 2021

Good News in the Senate; Gaetz, Georgia Problems Build

The biggest news for the week may have been the Senate parliamentarian decision permitting expanded use of the reconciliation process for budget bills. At one time, the ruling would not have been important for solving legislative issues in Congress, but for a decade, Republicans have largely refused to vote in favor of any bill proposed by Democrats even if they or their constituents agree with the bill. Since the 2008 election of President Obama and the 2010 Tea Party sweep of Congress, Republicans have subscribed to one goal—gridlock through opposition to all Democratic bills. The Senate filibuster requiring a 60-percent vote makes gridlock easier.  

The only flexibility in the Senate has been the budget reconciliation process in which a maximum of three bills can be passed each year with a simple majority, one each on spending, revenue, and the federal debt limit. Democrats already used one bill this year with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), providing financial relief for the COVID-19 crisis. Republicans, with seeing provisions in the upcoming infrastructure bill, have declared they will vote against it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), however, found a law that legislation for an annual budget resolution, passed by the reconciliation process in the current Congress, can be revised through amendments. The Senate parliamentarian agrees, giving Democratic senators more flexibility without putting every issue into one bill. This process frees up budgetary timelines, again because of the smaller budget bills not requiring the 60-percent threshold. This flexibility may permit the budget to be finished by the end of the fiscal year, September 30, instead of stalling the process with a number of continuing resolutions and creating the danger of a government shutdown. Raising the debt ceiling might not be used for GOP blackmail in cutting back spending for domestic needs, a situation created by a cap on the debt limit forced through a decade ago by then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Trying to cling to his position of leadership and sucking off the corporate teat for decades, House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is fighting large businesses rejecting the Georgia anti-voting law. He threatened them with a warning to “stay out of politics” to avoid “consequences.” McConnell did add “I’m not talking about contributions” to his directive. Last year—2020—his super PAC took in $475 million from corporations and their CEOs, including Chevron, Mountaire Corp, Koch Industries, and many others. 

In 2010, McConnell, calling donations “free speech,” praised the Supreme Court lifting political spending limits by “outside groups” in Citizens United v. FEC:

“For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process … the Constitution protects their right to express themselves about political candidates and issues up until Election Day.”

Gabby Orr and Meredith McGraw wrote on Politico:

“During the 2017 GOP tax reform push, the [GOP] party slashed the corporate rate from 35 to 21 percent. In return, they have been bolstered with industry money and political support. Now, however, they’re betting that they can win on a backlash to the idea that political correctness has entered the boardroom and is irreversibly damaging conservative causes.”

Three days ago, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) called on all his followers to boycott the corporations criticizing Georgia’s new law and other states’ anti-voting bills, one business being Coca-Cola. For his photo shoot, he should have removed the Coke bottle from his desk rather than trying to hide it behind his telephone while he pretends to still be in the Oval Office. 

“I feel so good not drinking Diet Coke on a Delta flight,” Matt Schlapp, the president of the American Conservative Union, tweeted Monday. Pepsi supports LGBTQ and voting rights.  

In the GOP attempt to “cancel” MLB (Major League Baseball), Republican lawmakers are looking at Commissioner Rob Manfred’s membership at the Augusta (GA) National Golf Club and threatening to remove its long-time antitrust exemption so that the MLB could be sued. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he won’t throw out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) suggested a boycott of MLB. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) distributed a list of official MLB sponsors, asking if “all of them [are] willing to be the woke enforcers of the corrupt Democratic Party?” The attack resembles DDT’s fight against ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others who knelt to protest police brutality.

The outrage from Republicans regarding MLB making a statement about the anti-voting law is not new for sports. The National Basketball Association (NBA) relocated its All-Star Game in 2017 from North Carolina in reaction to HB2, a state law requiring people to use only restrooms that correspond with the gender assigned to them at birth. The owners of teams in the National Football League (NFL) voted in 1991 to withdraw the 1993 Super Bowl Game from Phoenix following Arizona voters’ refusal to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a legal holiday. Recently, the NFL apologized for not supporting protests of police violence against people of color, started by Kaepernick taking a knee.

MLB found a new home for its All-Star Game in Denver (CO), resulting in GOP and Fox network’s lies about Georgia’s new voting law being less restrictive than those in Colorado. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) tweeted that both states require voter ID and Georgia has two more days of early voting. With Colorado’s mail-in voting system, less than one percent of Colorado voters cast their ballots in person and aren’t required to have photos on their IDs. All registered voters in Colorado are sent ballots, but Georgia law blocks election officials from sending absentee ballot applications to registered voters. WaPo reporter Dave Weigel told critics of Colorado voting to “find a photo of Colorado voters waiting in a long line on Election Day” within the past seven years. (Right: Georgia’s voting lines.) Republicans lie about Georgia’s new law “expanding” voting access, but an analysis reveals 16 provisions limiting ballot access, confusing voters, and giving GOP lawmakers more power to determine the electoral college vote in the state.

In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is working on ways “to mitigate the impact of new voting restrictions imposed” by Georgia’s new anti-voting law, part of to “develop a plan of action within the city’s authority to expand opportunity and access to the ballot box.” Methods include staff member training on voter registration; general information on early, absentee, and in-person voting; and dissemination of information to residents about obtaining forms of identification required for absentee voting.

In another story from the South, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), facing sex-trafficking accusations from a DOJ investigation started by DDT’s fixer AG Bill Barr, found himself in more hot water. According to The New York Times, he asked for “blanket preemptive pardons” for himself and his allies, possibly Joel Greenberg, before DDT left the Oval Office which would give him immunity from any future crimes. The inquiry into Gaetz began late last summer, and people wonder if Gaetz knew about the probe before DDT’s departure. DDT has not mentioned Gaetz’s name since the scandal broke, and DDT’s loyalists have anonymously shown glee about Gaetz’s problems. One staffer expressing a feeling of vindication said about Gaetz, “He’s the meanest person in politics.

Fox News, for some reason, has published details of Gaetz’s sordid past. As a young state legislator in Florida, he allegedly competed with other lawmakers in sexual conquests, gaining extra points for having sex with married lawmakers and spending the night in a college sorority house. Special points came from sex with virgins, but the top number came from sex with one specific conservative woman, nicknamed the “snitch.” Other points came from sex with lobbyists, interns, and aides. Some women called him “Creepy Gaetz” because of how uncomfortable they were in his presence.

One question about indictments for Gaetz is whether his buddy Joel Greenberg, formerly Seminole County (FL) tax collector and now recipient of at least three dozen federal criminal charges, turns on him. Greenberg’s evidence could erase Gaetz’s weak defense that he didn’t have sex with a 17-year-old being investigated or she turned 18 by the time he made the moves on her. Greenberg’s case involves the same girl, indicating her age as 17 and the belief that he paid her, possible federal charges against Gaetz. If prosecution couldn’t prove Gaetz paid a 17-year-old girl for sex, Florida has a 15-year maximum sentence for sex with a minor and registration as a sex offender. Even solicitation of a sex act is a felony.

Gaetz is known for being the only member of the U.S. House to vote against increased penalties for sex-trafficking. While in the Florida legislature, he also fought a bill against “nonconsensual pornography,” aka “revenge porn.” For several years, fellow Republican tried to put the bill into law, but the main opposition was Matt Gaetz. In one discussion, Gaetz maintained a person can use “an intimate image [sent from] their romantic partner” in any way they want. That’s what Gaetz did when he showed nude photos and videos to other members of Congress.

This weekend at DDT’s Miami Doral hotel, Gaetz will appear at the Save America Summit, a Women for America First event, as the headline speaker along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and QAnon follower Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Calling Gaetz a “fearless leader,” the organization secured the permit for DDT’s speech inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Topics at the summit include “Election Integrity,” “Big Tech & Censorship,” and “Defeating the Radical Biden/Harris Agenda.”

April 4, 2021

Voting: States Polarize

When Georgia passed the most anti-voting rights law in over a half century, they likely hoped that the anti-Georgia backlash to authoritarianism would soon disappear. It’s just getting worse for them.

Atlanta has become the business hub of the South, moving the state from a backwoods region to a leader in world economy. At one time, Coca-Cola was the only major business, but the area’s development ballooned into the 10th largest in the country and the 18th in the world. The estimated GDP in 2014 came in over $324 billion, and investments cover the waterfront—finance, media, film and TV, healthcare, manufacturing, education, travel, etc.

Corporate objections to the law quelling voting by minorities and low-income people started slowly but took on momentum after the public backlash. Coca-Cola, a world empire, called the law “unacceptable” and objections from 73 Black business executives included Merck & Co. and American Express. Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, stated the company would have second thoughts about a decision “to invest substantially in Atlanta.” The Major League Baseball removed its July 13, 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta. A list of over 170 companies asking elected officials to protect voting access and oppose voter suppression.

After Delta objected to the new law, the state House tried to punish Delta by removing tens of millions of dollars of tax breaks, but the Senate wouldn’t touch the bill before it adjourned for the year.

MLB’s decision caused loud GOP cries of “cancel culture”—a term deteriorated into “anything the GOP doesn’t like.” Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp complained about MLB and the corporations’ opposition to his law being “woke”—defined as “alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice.” He’s correct, but being “woke” simply means fighting for voting rights. 

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) stated, “Boycott Major League Baseball (MLB), Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck” He ranted about the “rigged” 2020 presidential election before he finished with “Happy Easter.”

Yet the GOP is blaming talk about boycotts on Black activist Stacey Abrams who protested the new Georgia anti-voting law but opposed boycotting Georgia because it hurts minorities and low-income people. Instead she asked corporations to find other ways to support voting rights activists and hold Republicans accountable.

Southern GOP bigotry already cost North Carolina $3.76 billion in lost business after its “bathroom” bill blocked transgender people from using facilities matching their gender identities. In addition, Gov. Pat McCrory lost his re-election attempt in the same year DDT won the state. Kemp, who signed the punitive Georgia bill the same day it passed, is up for re-election in 2022. To win, he will have to convince Georgia should return to the days of the Confederacy.

Georgia is leading the way for anti-voting bills in Arizona, Florida, and Texas, and companies in those states and others are responding with the same opposition as the ones in Georgia. Huge international businesses with headquarters in Texas such as American Airlines (Fort Worth) and Dell Technologies (Round Rock) are criticizing voter suppressions. Southwest Airlines and AT&T have already criticized these restrictive proposals.

After MLB backed out of Georgia, another 193 companies joined in a statement against states’ proposals threatening access to voting in almost all states. Signatures of CEOs include those from Armour, Salesforce, HP, Twitter, Estée Lauder, and Dow. Companies are called upon to testify in legislatures, withdraw financial support from lawmakers supporting anti-voting laws, and back federal election reform legislation.

Arizona temporarily pulled its anti-voting bill because the Republicans lost enough votes to pass it. A concern might be the potential loss of the 2023 Super Bowl, scheduled in Glendale (AZ).

Yet there is another side to new voting laws. With Gov. Ralph Northam’s signature, Virginia became the first state to approve a voting rights law, protecting state citizens against voter suppression, discrimination, or intimidation. It not only restores but also expands the provisions of the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act overturned by John Roberts and his Supreme Court in 2013. A description of the state law:

“The Voting Rights Act of Virginia prohibits discrimination in elections administration, requires local election officials to get feedback or pre-approval for voting changes, and allows individuals to sue in cases of voter suppression. It requires localities seek public comment or pre-approval from the Office of the Attorney General on any proposed voting changes and empowers voters and/or the Attorney General to sue in cases of voter suppression. Civil penalties awarded as a result of voting discrimination will go towards a newly-established Voter Education and Outreach Fund.

“Additionally, the Voting Rights Act of Virginia prohibits at-large local elections if they dilute the voting power of racial minorities. It also ensures accessibility by requiring local election officials provide voting materials in foreign languages, as needed. The Governor’s minor technical amendments clarify that certain provisions apply to all localities not just “covered jurisdiction(s).”

Other provisions of the new law eliminate witnesses for absentee ballot signatures during public health emergencies, allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote for automatic addition to the rolls at the age of 18, permits curbside voting, moves municipal election voting from May to the November elections, and restores voting rights to people on parole or probation for a felony conviction and codify the restoration of rights to those who have fully completed their sentences.

Virginia also has same-day voter registration; a holiday for Election Day replacing one honoring Confederate generals; elimination of an excuse for absentee voting; permission to permanently receive absentee ballots; inclusion of ballots received three days after Election Day if postmarked by Election Day; extension of polling close on Election Day from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm; permission to use non-photo IDs and some out-of-state college IDS for voter identification; permission for municipalities to use instant run-off for local elections; mandatory hand-filled paper ballots or printouts of ballots; a bipartisan redistricting commission with nonpartisan redistricting criteria; and a ban on prison gerrymandering.

For equitable access to voting during the pandemic, Northam signed H.B. 1888 and SB 1245 requiring drop boxes, prepaid return postage, and ability to fix mistakes on envelopes for absentee ballots. Blind or vision-impaired Virginians can also receive the help they need to cast votes.

These laws should be passed in all states to maintain the GOP desire for “election integrity,” the false name for Georgia’s law.

  • Even Kentucky is passing election laws with “integrity”:
  • Three days of in-person voting on Thursday-Saturday before Election Day.
  • Permission to “cure” absentee ballots of problems such as mismatched signature.
  • Reinstitution of an internet system for requesting absentee ballots.
  • Permission for counties to have vote centers where people can turn in absentee ballots.
  • Secure drop-boxes for absentee ballots.
  • Phasing in paper ballots for electronic voting systems.
  • No-excuse early voting although people will again need an excuse for absentee voting.

Washington state automatically restores voting rights of people convicted of felonies after they are released from prison, and Delaware passed a House bill automatically registering voters when they visit the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Georgia has a history of blocking minorities from voting. Blacks attempting to register to vote and Whites attempting to help them were beaten and killed during the 1960s. Perpetrators of the crimes included the Ku Klux Klan and law enforcement officials. The current bills and laws to block ease of voting comes from the GOP evidence-free belief that Republicans cannot win elections if every eligible voter can vote without great difficulty.

Although Republicans have openly given this reason to justify their support of these bills, much of the publicity promotes DDT’s “big lie” about massive election fraud. The 2020 election was the most carefully guarded one perhaps ever, and no one—not DDT’s courts, Department of Justice, elected GOP officials, the FBI—could find systemic fraud. Hundreds of searchers and thousands of hours found under 100 cases of voter fraud among 161 million voters, and most of these were by Republicans.

In his bigoted response to the backlash against the Georgia law, ordained Baptist minister Mike Huckabee tweeted on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, celebrating Christ’s resurrection:

“I’ve decided to ‘identify’ as Chinese. Coke will like me, Delta will agree with my ‘values’ and I’ll probably get shoes from Nike & tickets to @MLB games. Ain’t America great?”

Ain’t religion great?

Today, April 4, is the 53rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s death. In Memphis (TN), the Black activist was shot and killed in his fight for Black people to have equal access to the ballot box. At the end of the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, King talked about “the roots of racism and the denial of the right to vote.” In his 1957 “Give us the ballot” speech, he decried the “types of conniving methods” used by Southern elected officials to disenfranchise Black voters. Republicans are forcing the U.S. to come full circle, destroying the rights of all to vote, in little more than a half century.

March 27, 2021

Georgia:   Republicans Opposed to ‘Cancel Culture” Decides to ‘Cancel Voting’

People who know nothing about the new voter-prevention law in Georgia are either hiding under a rock or watching Fox network. Passing legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in one day, state GOP legislators included a large number of provisions, all designed to destroy democracy and elect only Republicans. Yet they claim to try to prevent the non-existent fraud which could not be found by multiple investigations and court cases, many of them by Republicans.

The so-called “Election Integrity Act of 2021,” two pages long in addressing absentee votes, grew to 96 pages in the hour before the voting. Some provisions:

  • Allows state lawmakers to take over local election boards—meaning Republicans can eliminate votes they don’t like with their ability to certify results if Democrats win close race—something DDT failed to do in 2020.
  • Gives GOP-controlled legislature to appoint a majority of members to the State Election Board.
  • Removes the authority of Georgia’s secretary of state from any control over the election (because Brad Raffensperger wouldn’t find 11,000 for Dictator Donald Trump [DDT] to win the state.
  • Criminalizes photographing one’s own ballot.
  • Eases ability to challenge vote eligibility.
  • Prevents anyone from giving even water to people standing in voting lines even if they are forced to be outside for up to ten hours before casting their votes.
  • Blocks counties from having almost all ballot drop boxes during early voting, allowing them only inside early voting locations during business hours.
  • Removes drop boxes during last four days before an election, a time when mail-in ballots are most likely not receive in time.
  • Disqualifies provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct. 
  • Makes counties responsible for deciding Sunday voting but permitted only twice.
  • Moves runoffs to four weeks after general elections with early voting reduced to one week.
  • Eliminates mobile voting vans to alleviate long lines in heavily Democratic Fulton County.
  • Sets up hotline to report election activities in the attorney general’s office.
  • Mandates certification of votes within six days instead of ten days.
  • Requires election voters to count ballots without stopping until they finish.

The only piece missing in the final bill was ending no-excuse absentee voting, a system allowing Republicans to win the elections until the past few months, but the stricter requirements for voter ID with these ballots again creates more problems for minorities and low-income people. Absentee ballots will be verified based on driver’s license numbers or other documentation instead of voter signatures. The law did reduce the time in which voters can request an absentee ballot to 11 days before Election Day and complicated the request process.

The Georgia legislature now permits the kind of voter fraud DDT demanded. In addition to begging Raffensperger for enough votes to win, he earlier asked Raffensperger’s lead investigator, Frances Watson, to find fraud in specific counties, promising she would “be praised” by finding “the right answer.” The GOP search for voter fraud was investigated only in states where President Joe Biden won. DDT pushed Watson to keep looking for votes in his favor until January 6, 2021, when Congress certified the presidency for Biden.

Georgia made more history when state troopers handcuffed state Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) and charged her with a felony for knocking on the governor’s door while he signed the law in the midst of six other white men. (Right: Cannon – Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Biden called the law an “atrocity” and said the DOJ is taking a look at it. He added:

“If you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency—they passed a law saying you can’t provide water for people standing in line while they’re waiting to vote.”

The law directly attacks Black voters.They are more likely to vote remotely and less likely to have the required identification for an absentee vote, formerly allowed through signature-matching. Over 200,000 Georgia voters have no driver’s license or state ID number. The average wait time to vote in Black communities is also far more than in predominantly White communities.

Groups immediately began to file lawsuits against the new law, calling it an effort to impose “unconstitutional burdens on the right to vote.”

Historian Heather Cox Richardson wrote: 

“The United States defeated the Confederacy, outlawed human enslavement except as punishment for crime, declared Black Americans citizens, and in 1867, with the Military Reconstruction Act, began to establish impartial suffrage. The Military Reconstruction Act, wrote Maine politician James G. Blaine in 1893, ‘changed the political history of the United States.’

“Today, as I looked at the photograph of Governor Kemp signing that bill, I wondered just how much.”

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is responsible for the draconian voting law in Georgia and probably other states. Eight years ago, he authored the majority opinion of 5-4 in Shelby County v. Holder which trashed the Voting Rights Act protecting voting procedures from discrimination. Roberts wrote, “Things have changed dramatically [in the South].” He may be right—the South may be able to make discrimination against Democratic voters much worse.

Georgia’s new law is one of 253 measures in 43 states designed to keep the GOP in complete control no matter what. With Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WY) determined to refuse any bills not supported by Republicans, H.R. 1, For the People Act, won’t be able to defend democracy through people’s right to vote.

Journalist Bonnie Kristian points out that a conservative (a real one!) should oppose Georgia’s law. Her definition of conservative is “someone who wants to preserve tradition and institutional stability, to thicken the thin veil that separates our society from chaos.” She quotes psychologist Jonathan Haidt as conservatives have five moral values: Harm/Care; Fairness/Reciprocity; In-Group/Loyalty; Authority/Respect; and Purity/Sanctity. Liberals have only the first two—care and fairness—because they value diversity over in-group loyalty and question authority and traditional notions of social and sexual purity. Georgia’s law fails in-group loyalty in self-governance, lying about trying to stop voter fraud; authority, by diminishing moral authority necessary in popular government; and fairness, the law being a dishonorable act. It is “shameless, disgraceful, a poor loser’s move … changing the rules of the game instead of putting in the work to win it as-is or accepting victory isn’t possible.” Now, someone needs to explain this position to the “conservatives.”

Republicans are working hard to get the subject back to what they see as Biden’s failure of immigration at the southern border. Toward that end, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took 17 friends, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in armored patrol boats along the Rio Grande for a midnight visit to prove abuse of migrant children. They were also looking for human traffickers taunting border agents across the “open border” and, hopefully, chaos and lawlessness. All they could say was that VP Kamala Harris, now in charge of the immigration situation, should come down to the border as well instead of working on a solution.  

As a British newspaper describes, the 18 mostly White, male Republicans left “Anzalduas Park Mission, on four Texas Highway Patrol power boats, bristling with machine guns, and armed officers.” A woman said she had been birdwatching in the same location where the tour created a false danger with “fancy camo gear and [a] ride in boats with guns,” according to writer Annie Hartnett. Asked about the U.S. being a nation of immigrants, Cruz bragged about his father coming to the county in 1957. Graham bailed him out by telling journalists they should talk to border patrol officers instead of politicians. Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, said DDT’s promise to build a border wall caused a jump in crossings.

Next time, Cruz and his far-right colleagues might want to get protection from the birdwatchers. And they aren’t getting the focus off voting rights.

February 21, 2021

GOP Plans ‘Rigging and Stealing’ Future Elections

Filed under: Voting — trp2011 @ 11:50 PM

Alice O’Lenick, a GOP representative on the Gwinnett County (GA) election board, wants her colleagues in the area of almost 1 million population to lobby the state for changes for the elections. Her goals in the changes, including limits on absentee voting and elimination of ballot drop boxes, is to “have a shot at winning.” Georgia’s no-excuse absentee voting law was passed over a decade ago; Republicans want to change the law only after Democrats won the presidency and two U.S. senators in the most recent election.

As Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) continues to claim the election was rigged and he’s the real president, GOP lawmakers in 33 states have proposed over 165 bills that would restrict voting. Four times as many bills were introduced this year as the same time last year. These legislators have joined GOP secretaries of state in a commission to examine elections laws amid the push to block people voting against Republicans.

Republicans know they can win only by disenfranchising anyone who votes against the GQP (Grand QAnon Party). In the past, they purged voters, cut back on early voting including on Sundays, restricted voter registration—actions that will be accepted by many judges. A few years ago, states began to cut back democracy by shrinking people’s ability to pass ballot initiatives, those on the ballot through voters’ signatures:

Proposed state bills by Republican legislators:

Arizona: increase voting approval of initiatives from a majority to 60 percent and a two-thirds supermajority for tax increases. It might prevent the passage of such initiatives as automatic and same-day voter registration.

Florida: a constitutional amendment increasing passage of initiatives to two-thirds approval. The state had increased the approval requirement from majority to three-fifths in 2006 after a successful vote enfranchised people no longer in prison.

Missouri: constitutional amendments to vastly increase the required number of signatures for putting initiatives onto the ballot by spreading them over multiple districts and mandate legislative approval for any initiative on a ballot; ban on judges to change the summary for ballot measures. Republicans are taking this action following a reform of legislative redistricting and new ethics restrictions on state legislators which they repealed last year.

Montana: a constitutional amendment to gerrymander the state supreme Court which could be on the 2022 ballot. The move retaliated against the state courts striking down the GOP’s 2018 congressional gerrymandering and protecting voting rights in 2020.

Pennsylvania: a constitutional amendment to gerrymander its appellate courts, too late for the May primary ballot but in time for the November election. The move retaliated against the state courts striking down the GOP’s 2018 congressional gerrymandering and protecting voting rights in 2020.

More bills to suppress voting:

Arizona: The Brennan Center for Justice called Arizona the nation’s leader in “proposed voter suppression legislation in 2021.” Among their 40 GOP bills is one that would permit the state legislator to overturn the popular vote for president by naming the electoral college representatives who disagree with the vote majority. A bill purging about 200,000 voters from the early voting list was blocked when one GOP senator sided with Democrats to stop it.

Florida: Republicans in a Senate committee passed a bill to end the system of allowing people to request absentee ballots for two election cycles, instead mandating applications for every cycle and canceling requests from 2020 for 2022. State absentee voters rose in 2020 to 2.1 million from 1.5 million.

Georgia: Georgia Republicans advanced a record number of voting restrictions: end no-excuse absentee voting for everyone under 75; require voter ID for absentee voting; restrict use of mobile early voting buses; block anyone from giving food or water to people standing in the long lines at polls; give the GOP-run secretary of state’s office more power to take over the operations of county election offices. The hearing for a sweeping bill adopting many more voting restrictions had almost no advance notices:

  • Limit the availability of absentee ballot drop boxes;
  • Disqualify votes cast in the wrong precinct but in the right county;
  • Outright ban for Sunday early voting, disproportionately used by Black voters and churches via “souls to the polls” voter drives after Sunday services;
  • Cut the number of remaining early voting hours with the excuse of county standardization;
  • Shorten the absentee voting period by barring ballots from being sent out more than four weeks before Election Day;
  • Ban election officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters although GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger did so in the 2020 primary; and
  • Prohibit private organizations from donating funds to help officials administer elections after multiple groups donated tens of millions to do so in 2020.

Indiana: A GOP bill passed in committee strips the governor and state Election Commission of the power to implement emergency election changes after they temporarily expanded last year’s voting access. The power would be moved to the Republican state legislature.

Iowa: Bills passed in GOP committee:

  • Reduce the period for early and mail voting from 29 days to 18;
  • Limit counties to one mail ballot drop box regardless of population size;
  • Remove counties’ ability to set up satellite early voting locations, requiring voters to request them;
  • Bar counties from sending absentee ballot request forms to voters, even if voters ask for one, meaning those who lack transportation or a printer have trouble getting an application;
  • Ban third parties from collecting and submitting mail ballots on a voter’s behalf; and
  • Prevent political parties and other get-out-the-vote groups from pre-filling any portion of absentee ballot request forms on behalf of voters.

Kansas: Republican legislators introduced a bill making it a felony for anyone other than a family member or caregiver to collect and submit an absentee ballot on behalf of another voter.

North Dakota: Republican legislators withdrew a bill requiring voters to be a resident of their jurisdiction for a full year, instead of the current 30-day residency requirement, which would have disenfranchised college students, active-duty military members, and new residents who intend to remain in the state long-term.

While Republicans try to block voting for large swaths of the population, Democrats are working to expand voting rights. Lawmakers in 37 states introduced 541 bills to expand mail-in voting, extend early voting, promote voter registration, and restore the right to vote for those who have lost it. At the national level, the first measure Democrats introduced into Congress this year was the “For the People Act,” which embraces the policies in the state bills and also reforms campaign financing, requires candidates to disclose the previous ten years of their tax returns, and ends gerrymandering. Some of the provisions in a 2019 bill passing the House:

  • Require early voting and same-day registration for federal elections;
  • Require states to automatically register voters who interact with certain state agencies and place limits on how aggressively states can remove voters from the rolls;
  • Require states to set up independent commissions to draw congressional districts, reducing the potential for excessive partisan gerrymandering; and
  • Restore the provision of the Voting Rights Act requiring places with a history with voting discrimination to pre-clear voting changes before they go into effect.

States working for expansions of voter rights:

California: passed automatically mailing a ballot to all active registered voters for elections.

Iowa: passed a constitutional amendment codifying Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ 2020 executive order automatically restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions who have completely served their sentences, with the exception of those convicted of homicide offenses.

New Mexico: passed a bill in the House to end felony disenfranchisement for people on parole or probation.

New York: consider a bill automatically restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions upon release from prison.

Virginia: passed a state-level equivalent of the federal Voting Rights Act, banning voting rules discriminating against voters based on race or language group. Localities attempting to make voting changes affecting protected racial or language groups must submit the proposed changes for public comment for a period of at least 30 days or seek the state attorney general’s approval to make alterations on shorter notice. Another bill would move municipal elections held in the spring to November, with its higher turnout.

The GOP excuse for suppressing voter rights comes from their assertion of election fraud, “information warfare” in “a classic Russian-style disinformation campaign,” according to Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institute. Through the “firehose of falsehoods,” incessant lying about a rigged and stolen election, the GOP joins DDT in “manipulating and organizing the social environment and the media environment to confuse and discombobulate enemies, to isolate them, to demoralize them so they don’t know what’s true or false anymore, they get very frustrated. In a fire hose falsehood campaign, it’s not about having one idea and pumping it out consistently. It’s about throwing spaghetti against the wall. It’s anything and everything. It can be wild. It can be random. It’s to create confusion and epistemic chaos. That’s what we are seeing. That’s very hard for democracies to deal with it.”

And that’s the strategy for Republicans rigging and stealing elections through voter suppression.

October 28, 2020

DDT, GOP Lie about the COVID-19 Surge, Voting Rights

Filed under: Health Care,Voting — trp2011 @ 12:28 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is crossing the nation, spreading COVID-19 among his campaign rallies and telling his audiences COVID-19 is “rounding the turn” and no longer a problem. He says any cases come from all the testing.

The “turn” evidently means far more coronavirus cases. In many regions—the Upper Midwest, the Mountain West, the Southwest, and the heart of Appalachia—hospitals have record levels of people infected by coronavirus. Over 42,000 people were hospitalized in the U.S. just yesterday, a number nearing the midsummer peak. The result is a nightmare on the horizon–triaging patients to pick which ones will get care and putting younger ones over the older. The 83,000+ cases of last Saturday, a single-day record, set up the motion the COVID-19 pattern: spiking diagnoses, hospitalizations, and then deaths. 

Johns Hopkins University has reported increases of 20 percent in new cases, 13 percent in hospitalizations, and 11 percent in daily death. Nineteen states announced more cases in the past seven days than any other seven-day period of the epidemic, and dozens of states have a seven-day average of over 100 new daily cases per 100,000 people with over 700 per 100,000 in North Dakota, five times the U.S. average. El Paso (TX) hit 100-percent hospital capacity Sunday and moved patients to field hospitals. Tulsa (OK) said the soaring number of hospitalizations “is not sustainable.” North Dakota has only 25 ICU staffed beds remaining in the entire state.

North and South Dakota are the poster states of bad leadership and dramatic surges of COVID-19. Earlier, they bragged about having no problem. North and South Dakota report the highest and second-highest rates of hospitalizations and deaths. South Dakota is second only to North Dakota in the number of virus cases per 100,000 people for all 50 states while North Dakota reduced testing by 2 percent. In South Dakota, the testing average rose by 11 percent, but cases increased by 20 percent over the previous week. South Dakota’s tests have 40 percent positives.

South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem started big outbreaks by forcing infected people to continue working in the state’s meat processing plants, and she thinks the state still has no problems.  Last week she wrote in an op-ed, “Our trust in the data and in each other has been rewarded.” The “data” shows South Dakota reported over 1,100 new cases, 95 cases per 100,000 and a single-day record after the record of 973 the day before. Of the ten hottest spots for coronavirus in the nation, six are South Dakota cities. Nearly half the 3,138 inmates in South Dakota’s prison system tested positive as of Monday. About masks, Noem wrote that people should make “informed decisions” about wearing them because people “question” their effectiveness. The state has no limit at gatherings; last summer’s Sturgis biker event drew almost one-half million people who spread the virus to thousands of people throughout the nation. DDT held another superspreader event at Mt. Rushmore on July 3. Noem sounds like DDT and wants his position in four years: she’s traveled to at least 11 other states as a DDT surrogate for his campaign.

Noem is wrong: masks do work. Last summer after a stay-at-home order expired, Arizona’s COVID-19 daily cases spiked 151 percent for weeks, putting the state with more capita numbers than almost all countries in the world. After the governor lifted his ban on local mask mandates, the number of cases dropped 75 percent later in the summer. Loosening of safety measures, however, are causing another spike in the number of the states’ cases and hospitalizations, matching the June spike. Numbers could be even worse because Arizona includes only electronically-reported test results. By October 28, Arizona almost doubled the number of counties with moderate levels of community transmission (26 percent to 37 percent of counties) and high levels of community transmission, 7 percent to 13 percent. According to an estimate, 7,405 lives would have been saved with a universal mask mandate. With a mask mandate for over five months, Oregon has over five times lower death rate.

A University of Kansas study of counties in the states with and without mask mandates also discovered orders to wear face masks cuts back on the number of COVID-19 cases. The 21 counties adopting rules of wearing masks and distancing six feet from others reported an average of seven fewer cases per 100,000 compared to the spike of up to 40 average daily cases per 100,000 in the other 80 counties. The report concluded a saving of 130,000 lives of the predicted 510,000 deaths in the next four months if 95 percent followed these guidelines.

In his campaign rallies, DDT urges his audience to ignore the surging number of cases. Like a tsunami, each COVID-19 wave is higher than the last one. The first wave reached 9.7 cases per 100,000 on April 7 and dropped before increasing to 20.5 cases per 100,000 on July 19. The latest one rose to 23 cases per 100,000 on October 24 and may not have stopped. DDT’s chief of staff Mark Meadows said the White House planned to do nothing to stop the cases, the hospitalizations, and the deaths. 

DDT actually has a few plans. After he gave farmers $46 billion in welfare to cover his disastrous tariffs, he is in federal court to stop emergency food stamps to 700,000 people during the virus crisis. He has already kept $480 million out of Pennsylvania, a state with extraordinarily high unemployment and a swing state DDT wants to win. The emergency funding is $2 per meal for a person. A federal judge has accused the USDA of “egregious disobedience” for not following congressional mandates. With no backup plan, DDT also wants to rid the country of the Affordable Healthcare Act, leaving tens of millions of people without health insurance. In another idea, DDT said he wants to make reporting about the coronavirus illegal. It “should be an election law violation,” he ranted.

Republicans and conservative judges are trying to infect more people by forcing them to the polls. Virus cases are rising in Texas again, but people fearful of infection who want to avoid exposure cannot cast ballots by mail because of GOP restrictions. The governor, Greg Abbott, has shot down every plan to make voting safer and more accessible. Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee are going along with strict restrictions on absentee ballots. All states also have strict voter ID requirements, and Mississippi limited early in-person voting. Anyone not working for an elections office in Tennessee and handing someone an application for absentee voting faces one to six years in prison. These conditions discriminate against less privileged groups such as people of color and those made vulnerable by medical conditions. Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas have some of the country’s highest rates of poverty and chronic health conditions.

One recent cheery piece of news comes from a federal judge order for South Carolina counties to stop rejecting absentee ballots over mismatched signatures and a review of ballots eliminated for that reason. County election boards wanting to have that procedure must get court approval and give voters the chance to correct any mismatches. Ten of the state’s 46 counties, some of them highly populated, were using “signature matching.”

Voter suppression, however, seems to be failing. A week before Election Day, the number of early voters equals about half the total number of people voting in November 2016. Even in restrictive Texas, almost half the registered voters have submitted ballots a week before Election Day, exceeding last year’s complete early votes by over three million and almost equaling the entire number of votes cast in Texas four years ago.

An outstanding occurrence in the current election comes from the large number of young people voting. Both parties have long said that more voters, especially young ones, benefit the Democrat party. For that reason, Republicans have tried to suppress the vote for decades.  

As DDT travels the country negating the disaster he has caused by mismanaging the COVID-19 crisis, health officials and scientists on DDT’s coronavirus task force are offended by the announcement from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy that DDT has successfully ended the pandemic. The group called the lying statement to be one of DDT’s major first term accomplishments. The lie explains it “has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease.” In the conservative Hill, Nathaniel Weixel writes:

“The rosy outlook flies in the face of reality, and underscores the efforts of Trump to continuously try to downplay the severity of the pandemic that continues to rage nearly uncontrolled across the country.”

On October 27, one week before the election, COVID-19 shows no sign of abating in the U.S. Total cases: 9,038,030. New cases during last 24 hours: 75,072. Total deaths: 232,084. Deaths during last 24 hours: 1,039. With under five percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has provided planet with over 20 percent of cases and deaths from coronavirus.

October 11, 2020

Left and Right, Rulings on Voter Suppression.

As Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) sows fear about legitimate voting practices, hundreds of lawsuits flood the courts to open up voting because of legislative suppression or further the suppression. Drop boxes for ballots were popular across the U.S., the most recent in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The case in Pennsylvania was the most unusual when a DDT-appointed judge refused the request from DDT’s campaign to limit the number of boxes. The most bizarre came from the flip flops in Ohio after the Secretary of State allowed only one drop box per county, followed by a court settlement multiple ones that still had to be at the county board of elections offices, to be changed to multiple locations, and currently back to only one per county—at least as of today. The worst ruling is one box for 4.7 million people in Harris County (TX). 

Other contentious court issues include whether missing information on absentee applications can be filled in by officials (Iowa), whether ballots postmarked on Election Day can be received later (Minnesota and Wisconsin), whether people can return ballots for someone else (Nevada), whether voters can fix ballots with missing information (North Carolina), and whether the number of witnesses for mail-in ballots (Virginia).

The Pennsylvania GOP legislature refused permission for preparation of absentee ballots without looking at the ballots before Election Day in the Republicans’ desire to create the chaos which DDT guarantees. With great success, Oregon, with universal mail-in voting, follows the system that Pennsylvania’s governor and the state’s election officials want. Oregon makes almost all election announcements within 12 hours of the end of voting.

Also in Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia judge ruled against DDT’s poll watchers in the city’s satellite election offices because it isn’t allowed under state law. DDT’s unauthorized poll watchers attempting to enter these facilities last month were turned away. House Republicans in Pennsylvania have also dropped their proposal for a GOP-majority “election integrity” committee with subpoena power in this swing state for the presidential election. Opponents worried about the committee’s use to impound ballots and delay the state’s election results.

A federal judge ruled that Missouri must allow people to drop off mail-in ballots in person. 

An Alaska court judge ruled witnesses for absentee ballots “impermissibly burdens the right to vote” and said she would later order the method to eliminate it.

Republicans are appealing a ruling postponing Arizona’s deadline for voter registration until October 23.  Also under GOP appeal is Arizona’s ruling that people have five days to sign their ballots after notification they forgot. 

The difference in rulings lies between promoting and preventing voting results by judges who follow factual information of almost no fraud in voting and judges who support DDT’s election. In almost 90 state and federal voting lawsuits, judges question GOP claims of voter fraud and haven’t endorsed these arguments about this kind of fraud swaying a presidential election. In Montana, a GOP lawyer representing Republicans said he had no evidence of any voter fraud in the state but “it’s irrelevant.”  

The Supreme Court will decide if Wisconsin and Pennsylvania can accept ballots days later if they are postmarked by 8:00 am on Election Day. Because the Supreme Court has only eight justices, a split decision will mean that the lower rulings stand, meaning Wisconsin could not follow them but Pennsylvania could.

Last Friday, the Supreme Court turned down a GOP request in Montana to block county election officials the right to choose whether to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters. Justice Elena Kagan fields emergency requests from the area including that state. A federal judge had rejected the GOP argument, and the 9th Circuit Court declined to block the plan on appeal.

A federal judge in New Jersey rejected DDT’s campaign attempt to stop ballots received before election day and those two days after Election Day if they lacked postmarks. Post offices don’t always postmark ballots. The campaign’s argument is that federal law “establishes a national uniform election day for Congress and the Presidency,” but the judge said:

 “Federal law establishing a national uniform election day does not prevent New Jersey from canvassing [processing] ballots before Election Day so long as the election is not consummated and the results reported before the polls close on Election Day.”

He added:

“It is foreseeable that an injunction on the eve of the by-mail election could prompt confusion or distrust that voters opt to avoid the mail system altogether and cast provisional ballots in person. Such an outcome would defeat the purpose of the vote-by-mail election and needlessly force voters and poll workers into close proximity.”

In Franklin County (Ohio), almost 50,000 voters, approximately 20 percent of those applying for mail-in ballots, received the wrong absentee ballots, supposedly because somebody changed a setting on the equipment putting absentee ballots into mailing envelopes. County demographics indicate voters lean Democratic.

Along with Ohio’s mismailings, Pennsylvania’s online system for registering to vote and applying for and tracking mail ballots crashed last weekend for over 24 hours, supposedly because of failure by an outside contractor. Florida had the same problem a few days later, forcing the state to extend the time to register new voters.

And in what was perhaps an accident, in South Carolina, voters’ sample ballots did not include Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, although they did include the candidates for the Green, Alliance, and Libertarian parties. 

In his hit job on mail-in voting for the conservative National Review, Trey Trainor, chair of the Federal Election Commission, told people to vote in person—just like the man who appointed him to the position. He misrepresented the facts, for example claiming a difference between absentee and mail-in voting (not true) and declaring Oregon has absentee instead of mail-in voting (definitely not true). In another false claim, he wrote a West Virginia postal carrier “pled guilty to changing the political affiliation on multiple ballots.” The changes are on ballot applications, not ballots, and “multiple” means eight. DDT earlier raised the false description of the event by claiming a postal worker  was “selling” voting ballots, an accusation the West Virginia GOP Secretary of State Mac Warner called “fake.” During the summer, the worker pled guilty to changing five ballot requests from Democratic to Republican and changed three other applications by circling the word “Republican.” Both U.S. senators, GOP Shelley Moore Capito and Democratic Joe Manchin denied voter fraud in the state.

Trainor also asserted waiting to get election outcomes is “an embarrassment” with no explanation.

AG Bill Barr shares DDT’s need to reduce the number of people who can vote by spreading lies about the process. Earlier this month, Barr told Wolf Blitzer in an interview the DOJ “indicted someone in Texas — 1,700 ballots collected from people who could vote, he made them out and voted for the person he wanted to. OK?” The DOJ had to explain Barr’s assertion was “inaccurate.” Barr added to his lies that journalists “don’t care that they’re not telling the truth, because they don’t believe truth is a meaningful concept. It’s about the pursuit of power. I’d be more tolerant of it if they were informed people, but they’re not. In the old days, even the great liberal journalists were very educated, erudite people.”

Throughout the election season, I have avoided most media attention to polling, but I was interested in the above map from the Economist’s modeled aggregates for the Electoral College just 23 days before the election. The stripes on Maine and Nebraska reflect their state laws permitting Electoral College votes based on votes instead of as a bloc from the majority.

Georgia is outdoing Pennsylvania’s education about “naked ballots” with its information about voting—get your booty to the poll. Director Angela Barnes wanted to present a get-out-the-vote message for Black male voters, an overlooked audience. She set her largely self-funded video in Atlanta’s strip club scene with vivid images of exotic dancers from Atlanta area clubs and other competitive dancers. A GoFund Me site raised over $13,000 for this must-see 90-second PSA video with at least five million viewers, many on Twitter. With a message of “Vote!” doesn’t direct watchers to either side, just “Don’t let other people decide who’s gonna run your community.” It finishes with resources, including how to register to vote and find out about local candidates and elections. 

Note: Celebrities are starting to strip down, teaching people in Pennsylvania how to avoid “naked ballots.” According to Republican law, ballots not put into both the required envelopes are considered “naked” and won’t be counted. 

May 24, 2020

Week 174 – Some Good News, Voting Squabbles

A federal judge overturned a new Florida law requiring felons to pay court fines and fees before they can register to vote, as permitted by an initiative passed in 2018 by 65 percent of the voters. The constitutional amendment expanded voting rights for those who completed “all terms of their sentence including probation and parole.” Judge Robert L. Hinkle compared the state law to a tax, unconstitutionally illegal.

In addition to using security agents as servants, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had them pack household goods and move his mother-in-law into a retirement home. Pompeo also ordered state Department officials to fabricate a justification for the emergency authorization to force an $8 billion arms deal without congressional approval and then hide it. To keep from firing Pompeo, DDT is trying to persuade him to run for Kansas senator. June 1 is the deadline for filing for candidacy.

Rachel Maddow is off the hook, at least temporarily, for a $10 million defamation lawsuit by One America News Network (OANN) after she said a writer for the right-leaning channel publishes the same material for Russia’s state propaganda network. On July 22, 2019, Maddow cited a Daily Beast article on her show, saying it reported OANN “has a full-time on-air reporter who covers U.S. politics, who is also simultaneously on the payroll of the Kremlin.” Maddow added, “The most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda.” OANN plans to appeal the lawsuit’s dismissal.

Two Democratic FCC commissioners claim a $48 million fine with no admission of guilt for Sinclair is insufficient punishment for the conservative network’s violations of regulations and asked for harsher punishments and greater scrutiny into whether Sinclair should be allowed to own any television stations.  Sinclair lied for an FCC review in its attempt to buy Tribune Media, causing the merger to collapse; didn’t report its providing accounting services to TV stations it didn’t own to the FCC; and aired sponsored programming 1,723 times without telling viewers the content was paid by a hospital group and not news.

The EPA admitted ignoring serious problems with rolling back the regulation to reduce automobile pollution through mileage standards. The agency had not seen about two-thirds of the 1,000-page document that Transportation Department staffers gave the White House as justification for the changes, and the top EPA official said that the Transportation had not addressed over 250 comments from EPA experts. Documents about objections from EPA staff may create legal problems for the rule mandating an improvement of average fuel efficiency because of the rules that the EPA broke. In the margins of the new regulation, agency staff wrote:

“The action revising the [greenhouse gas] standards will result in increased climate impacts and air pollution emissions compared to the existing standards.”

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) wrote that the EPA failed to enter document into the public record, changed the rule after it was signed, and didn’t follow it obligation to write part of the mileage rule:

“The result is a policy that fails to protect public health, fails to save money, fails to result in safer vehicles and will, ultimately and undoubtedly, fail in court.”

Even without protection from DDT’s EPA, scientists say that the worldwide drop in carbon emissions from coronavirus shutdowns could be the largest in recorded history. The 17-percent decrease from the same month last year is the same as emission levels in 2006, according to an analysis of the 69 countries responsible for 97 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Forty-three percent of the decrease came from reduced surface transportation.

DDT is launching the latest phase of his pre-election smear campaign against Democrats, and faithful loyalist Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chair of Senate Homeland Security Committee, wants to help him. He declassified an email former White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote herself as a reminder immediately before DDT’s inauguration about a discussion with President Obama and his team concerning Michael Flynn. Rice’s email states:

“[President Obama] stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”

Rice – 1; Johnson – 0. And Flynn – 0. 

Rice called on DDT to release the transcripts of phone calls between Flynn and the Russian ambassador during the transition while Barack Obama was president. Flynn pled guilty—twice—to his private conversations with a foreign country with the goal of undermining his own country’s foreign policy. No release is impending.

Watching judicial decisions regarding Texas absentee voting is like watching a ping-pong game. The state’s AG, Ken Paxton, has fought to keep from expanding the extremely narrow parameters for absentee voters, even if people are in danger of being infected and dying from COVID-19. With no evidence, his excuse is “fraud.” The latest ruling from a Texas federal judge permits absentee ballots for voters afraid of catching the virus, applying the law to all registered voters who “lack immunity from Covid-19 and fear infection at polling places.” This ruling supersedes the decision from the state Supreme Court stopping five counties from issuing mail-in ballots. The next Texas election is July 14, and July 2 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot. Paxton filed an appeal.

COVID-19 caused almost 30 states to change rules or practices for this year’s primaries or the general election, affecting roughly 86.6 million registered voters and more than 40 million people who now have the temporary right to cast an absentee ballot. Over a dozen states postponed primaries because of the virus, and 11 states requiring an excuse to vote by mail may use the virus for a reason. Another 12 states and the District of Columbia are proactively sending absentee ballot applications or request forms to voters specifically because of the coronavirus. Roughly 34.7 million people will receive the forms. Maryland, Montana, Nevada, and New Jersey sending absentee ballots for the primaries to approximately 11.3 million voters joined five other states that already mailed ballots to voters. In the 34 states that already do not require an excuse to vote absentee or by mail, the number of requests have shot up by ten times over 2016. Before the onset of the virus, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah already conduct elections by mail. Only Kentucky made voting more onerous by requiring government-issued photo IDs. ID-issuing offices are closed in the state.

With no evidence, DDT told reporters that mail-in ballots lead to “forgeries” and “thousands and thousands of fake ballots.” He added a diatribe about people printing “fraudulent ballots” and said “a lot of things can happen.” “To really vote, and without fraud, you have to go and you have to vote at the polling place,”  said DDT, the man who voted by mail from an address that Florida says he can’t have as a legal residential address. Previously, he said that Republicans need to block mail-in ballots to keep electing Republicans. DDT’s family also votes by mail.

DDT is so desperate to keep blue states from voting by mail that he threatened to block funding to Michigan and Nevada because he was under the impression that the states were mailing ballots. In fact, the states mailed applications for absentee ballots. GOP-led states such as Nebraska, West Virginia and Georgia made similar plans to offer applications for absentee ballots, but DDT has no comments about these red states. Interference with elections is unconstitutional.

Colorado, the third state after Washington and Oregon to legislate complete vote by mail, found the practice popular and relatively free of fraud—only 0.0027 percent out of 2.5 million ballots. In 2018, the state had the second highest turnout rate in the country after a 9.4 percent increase among registered voters. In April, 79 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans supported mail-in ballots for 2020. Yet the RNC and DDT’s re-election campaign are paying $20 million to fight voting changes in battleground states. Many Colorado Republicans advocate mail voting, and supporters say it’s safe because of paper ballots, signature verifications, a risk-limiting audit, and voter list checks make it safe. Research shows that neither party benefited from the mail-in system.

Vote by mail is also safer health wise. Wisconsin’s in-person primaries on April 7, mandated by the state Supreme Court and the GOP legislators, led to a “large” spread of coronavirus, according to a study.  

DDT may think that he can postpone the November election, mandated by the U.S. Constitution. About postponement, DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said, “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan.” Backlash forced Kushner to backtrack to the media: 

“I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of any discussions about trying to change the date of the Presidential election.”   [photo – Kushner]

A  federal judge allowed a federal lawsuit against DDT, his three oldest children, and his company of collaboration with a fraudulent marketing scheme to prey on investors. The case involves an exchange of “secret” payments for use of DDT’s former reality TV show The Celebrity Apprentice and other promotional events to boost ACN Opportunity, a telecommunications marketing company linked to a nonprofit that used Trump’s brand to appeal to teens. According to the lawsuit, the Trumps profited off the poor and vulnerable by “systematically defrauding economically marginalized people.”

May 24: COVID-19 deaths are 99,300—just 700 short of 100,000.

April 9, 2020

Wisconsin: Voter Disenfranchisement

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said that this week would represent the peak in COVID-19 cases. That may not have happened, but it did represent a peak in the death of democracy in the United States. The epicenter of disenfranchisement occurred in Wisconsin, the originator of civil rights in the nation. 

With thousands of people in the United States dying every day from a pandemic and hundreds of thousands identified with the virus, the Wisconsin GOP legislature, state Supreme Court, and U.S. Supreme Court forced the state, with an order of shelter-in-place, to hold an election for people. If people wanted to vote, they had to risk their lives on April 7 by going to the polls because the election would not be postponed.

The state Supreme Court isn’t even open:  

“In an effort to protect the public, attorneys, court staff, and judges from the health risks associated with COVID-19, the Wisconsin courts have issued orders temporarily suspending in-person proceedings statewide, with certain limited exceptions.”

The U.S. Supreme Court closed down all arguments because of COVID-19. Yet it refused to permit people even an additional week to get their absentee ballots into the state; five justices ordered the ballots to be postmarked on April 7.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker GOP Robin Vos assured the people of Wisconsin that voting in person was “incredibly safe,” but he covered himself in protective gear. And he lied on April 7 that people who didn’t get their requested ballots by mail could still ask the clerk for them. Ballots must be submitted by April 7.

Republicans want to suppress the vote to elect their candidate, Daniel Kelly, for a ten-year term to the state Supreme Court. A GOP court can redraw voter boundaries as they did after the 2010 census. In 2018, Republicans got 63 of the 99 Assembly seats in 2018 with just 46 percent voting for them. Kelly is an ideal choice for the Republicans; he opposes helping people in need.

DDT matches Kelly in heartlessness. After his support for Kelly’s election to “Protect your 2nd Amendment,” a reporter asked him who would be responsible if voters become ill because of standing in long lines to vote. He said:

“Look, all I did was endorse a candidate. I don’t know anything about their lines. I don’t know anything about their voting.”

The voting last Tuesday had far fewer “voting centers”—five in Milwaukee instead of 180 and two in Green Bay instead of 31. People who braved illness and death waited up to 150 minutes in line. Almost a dozen other states postponed primaries for voter safety. Wisconsin received 1.2 million requests for absentee ballots, ten times the usual number. Many people didn’t get them by the due date; on Sunday morning, 12,000 ballots had still not been mailed.

Republicans say that people can just use absentee ballots. But applicants didn’t get them by the due date to return them even after a two-week wait. Wisconsin received 1.2 million requests for ballots, ten times the usual number; on Sunday morning, 12,000 ballots had still not been mailed. Yesterday, the day after ballots were due, three tubs of ballots were found in a mail processing center while people complained about not getting ballots for weeks.

Linda Greenhouse, authority on the U.S. Supreme Court, criticized it for an unsigned (read five conservative judges) argument against postponing the Wisconsin election because “this court has repeatedly emphasized that lower federal courts should ordinarily not alter the election rules on the eve of an election.” First is the word “ordinarily.” People aren’t “ordinarily” afraid of dying if they vote. A state doesn’t “ordinarily” have an order for staying home. People, like the state Assembly’s leader don’t “ordinarily” wear PPE just to go out in public. And the number of requests for absentee ballots don’t “ordinarily” grow by ten times. The U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t “ordinarily” close because of a pandemic with the U.S. the worst in the world.

All four dissenting judges signed a minority opinion written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which, unlike the partisan majority opinion, pointed out that “the District Court was reacting to a grave, rapidly developing public health crisis.” She also dissented from the majority opinion that “declares that this case presents a ‘narrow, technical question.’” Ginsburg continued:

“That is wrong. The question here is whether tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens can vote safely in the midst of a pandemic. Under the District Court’s order, they would be able to do so. Even if they receive their absentee ballot in the days immediately following Election Day, they could return it. With the majority’s stay in place, that will not be possible. Either they will have to brave the polls, endangering their own and others’ safety. Or they will lose their right to vote, through no fault of their own. That is a matter of utmost importance—to the constitutional rights of Wisconsin’s citizens, the integrity of the state’s election process, and in this most extraordinary time, the health of the nation.”

Greenhouse also slammed governors who used the pandemic as a shameless excuse to ban abortion for “crass political gain.” She finished with an excerpt from the speech by Queen Elizabeth II last week when the British monarch hoped that “in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this crisis.” Greenhouse concluded:

“That goes for the Supreme Court too: History will judge us all. The Supreme Court this week failed not only the voters of Wisconsin. It failed all of us.”

Ginsburg also pointed out the serious flaw in the majority’s opinion that voting rules cannot be changed close to an election. On the day before the election, the Court changed the due date for ballots.  

DDT railed against vote by mail, going so far as to say the using this voting method would mean no Republican would ever be elected again. In his daily press briefings (aka campaign rallies) he started lying about a million fraudulent votes cast in California. (In the past it was three million, the number by which he lost the popular vote.) Fraud in states using vote by mail is almost nonexistent. Asked about his own voting by mail, DDT said, “I’m allowed.” His vice president and several cabinet members also recently voted by mail.

For Wisconsin, a state with an order of shelter-in-place, safety was the primary reason for vote by mail. This op-ed from Arizona county election officials lists other reasons:

  • “Mailing ballots to voters is less complicated and less expensive compared to the massive logistical undertaking of finding, staffing, equipping, testing, sanitizing and maintaining hundreds of voting locations across the state.”
  • “Mailing a ballot to every registered voter is a very secure and straightforward process.”
  • “Every single ballot is tracked and audited before and after every election, stored in a secured area and signature verified prior to being counted. Since more than 80% of Arizona’s voters already choose to vote by mail, mailing ballots to the remaining 20% of voters would not require much additional staff, equipment or training.”
  • “The number of provisional ballots and conditional provisional ballots, which can take days to process and can require additional voter outreach, are reduced in ballot-by-mail elections.”
  • “Millions of unused ballots … must be shredded—a huge waste of resources.”

John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado with vote by mail, pointed out rigid safeguards in the practice and the increase of 3.3 percent in state voting.

Court and Wisconsin legislative decisions may be only the opening salvo in the voting war: 21 states and Washington, D.C. still have election deadlines before June 23. After the Wisconsin debacle, states are in the process of postponing their elections. Fourteen have already postponed in-person elections or extended mail-in voting deadlines because of COVID-19. Georgia has a primary on May 19, but quitting poll workers have shut down precincts. Like Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Montana, Michigan, Kentucky and Louisiana have Democratic governors and Republican-controlled state legislatures. Maryland, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have a Republican governor and a Democratic-controlled state legislature. Oregon has a May 19 election, but the state has voted by mail for almost 20 years.

A bipartisan majority of voters want vote by mail: 72 percent of all adults; 79 percent Democrats; 65 percent Republicans. Members of the GOP have less concern about COVID-19 because DDT reassured them that they are safe, but the percentage of concerned Republicans is growing.

Wisconsin provided an important lesson to the other states that don’t vote by mail: take action now or face disenfranchisement! Any state that waits will face the U.S. Supreme Court suppressing the vote. Wisconsin voters tried to comply with shelter-in-place by requesting absentee ballots, but the state wasn’t prepared. One bonus of Wisconsin’s election, however, was the postponement of results until April 13. No frantic spin or tweeting votes as they came in. With vote-by-mail, the lead-up to the elections could be less frenetic because it takes place over a period of time and makes the voting period more deliberative.

Republican Supreme Court decisions, both in Wisconsin and the U.S. suffer from a GOP syndrome, fear of voting. The result in this case will be thousands of people sickening and dying.

Today’s world deaths (95,735) from 1,604,718 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 209 countries and territories. On April 9, the U.S. has 16,697 deaths in 468,887 confirmed cases.
 
 
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