Interesting New Yorker article (scroll down, it’s the 9th paragraph): The gap between in-person voting and mail voting is potentially so vast between Republicans and Democrats, respectively, that a data company, Hawkfish, predicted that Trump could climb to a whopping 408 electoral votes on Election Night…until the “blue shift” (the many Democratic mail-in ballots for Biden) kicks in in the days following Election Day and changes it to a 334-EV victory for Biden.
No, not really.
States that do mail in voting will not declare a winner until all the votes are counted, and so their electors will be undeclared.
Are all these mail-in voters really going to sit on their thumbs, not posting their ballots till the last minute and having them all get there after election day?
If I had a vote - especially given the recent Post Office kerfuffle - I’d be dropping it in the post all filled out the day I got it, and it would be at the electoral office way before official voting day.
Not to mention all the early voters, in places where that’s a thing. Aren’t we assuming that they’re mostly Democrats too?
Some states, like my state of Michigan, don’t allow the mail-in ballots to start being counted until election day, no matter how early they arrive. There will be so many mail-in ballots this year that it will take awhile to count them all.
States may not certify a winner, but generally they release vote totals as they come in. What Trump is counting on is that media outlets will report a large Trump lead in in-person voting on election day. Even if they caveat the hell out of it that this doesn’t include absentee ballots, people will still see side-by-side infographics (especially on Fox News) showing Trump well ahead in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, etc. Trump will declare victory and scream fraud as absentee votes come in and reverse his “wins” in these states. Republicans will challenge the validity of mailed ballots in public opinion and the courts, and drag things out as long as possible.
Is their argument baseless? Of course. But Trump’s not trying to win on the merits – the goal is to sew as much doubt and confusion about the “legitimate” outcome of the election as possible. So that he can either justify to himself and his supporters that he was screwed when forced to leave office (best case scenario), or give Republican state officials and the judiciary cover to hand him the election (e.g. Republican state legislatures could vote to award their EVs to him regardless of the state’s popular vote, judges could rule some votes invalid, etc.)
How is that any different than counting all the “normal” ballots on election day?
I assume it’s a much more laborious process-- voting machines are tallying votes as they go, giving a same-day result. Whereas mail-in ballots have to be opened and processed by teams of people, which takes longer. At least, that’s what I imagine-- I’m no expert in the process.
Normal ballots are typically processed through an optical scanner at the precinct level, and the results sent to the Board of Elections (or whatever Michigan uses). Mail-in ballots can’t even be taken out of their envelope until the day before the election in Michigan, and even then, they’re put into their secrecy sleeve to be processed on election day. And Google tells me that 2.1 million people in Michigan requested absentee ballots. That’s a lot of envelopes.
Maybe it’s just because I once had a job that was literally just opening up mail and scanning documents, but it’s still not that big of a deal. It’s really just a matter of how many people and scanners you have.
I do not know how other states or even other parts of my state do, but I work the count for absentee ballots in my city. They are counted on the day.
You’re thinking like a corporation dealing with a routine daily task. The expectation is that the mail-in ballot count will be between 2x & 20x what they’re used to depending on which jurisdiction we’re discussing. How well did your operation do when the workload spiked 20x?
Election departments have no excess budget. And all this change has occurred since COVID started, so they’ve had lots of practical obstacles to trying to scale up for the onslaught. Then add the political obstacles and it shows lots of signs of being a clusterf* of epic proportions.
Especially in the absence of automation, doing it well and doing it quickly are antithetical goals.
I worked one election in Michigan on the counting side back in the early 90s. That at least used to be the case.
IIRC the in person ballots at the time were punch cards. Still they were all nice and stacked up in orderly piles from during the day. The mail in ballots were a locked bin of randomly distributed envelopes. They all had to be opened and stacked up before the counting process could even begin.
If it happens that Trump gets the 408 vote early surge I am betting that, to sow division and doubt, he and the Republicans will loudly proclaim victory.
We also have a situation where Democrats, mindful of the pandemic, will be disproportionally voting absentee and where Republicans, heedless of the pandemic and distrustful of absentee balloting because of trump’s rantings on the subject and his kneecapping of the post office, will be voting mostly in person. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
As a left leaning Republican (who gets more left leaning every time either Trump or McConnell opens their mouth), I can tell you that the Trump campaign sends me an opportunity to ask for an absentee ballot at least twice a week. Right after the convention it was twice a day. Despite the rhetoric over mail-in ballots, the Republicans are encouraging their voters to use them. (I just hope all the “R’s” in my state vote Democratic as I will.)
Do you think he won’t proclaim victory regardless of where he stands at any point between now and the inaugaration? He’s already said that if he loses it’s because of fraud. By his logic, if he wins, he won and if he loses, he still won.
Of course he will. And you know how human nature works - the very instant you get something, your whole ‘plane of expectations’ changes at once. Suddenly you are unwilling to go back to the previous old status quo of days, hours or even minutes ago.
It’s like how, if today, you find that you didn’t win the lottery, no big deal, you’ve never been a lottery winner anyway. But if you find one day that you have a winning ticket, and the stunning realization of $300 million is yours hits you, and you are delirious with joy…only to be told, days later, that it was actually an invalid ticket (or something like that,) you won’t be content to go back to your old normal days again. Your whole plane of expectation shifted instantly the moment you found you won. For you to go back to the old status quo is now a sickening, jarring disappointment. It would be unbearable.
That’s how Trumpers will react when or if Trump hits 400+ electoral votes, as predicted by Hawkfish. That “red landslide” will make them utterly delirious. Their minds will already shift to thinking about what Trump will do in his second term. And now that their plane of expectations has changed in that moment, when the millions of blue Democratic mail-in ballots get counted in the weeks and snatch that ‘victory’ away, they will be enraged beyond words.
Furthermore, the same gap between in-person and mail voting that lets Trump get to 400 EVs to begin with will likely also temporarily propel Republicans to Senate victories in places like Michigan, Maine, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, etc., leading to a stunning temporary Republican Senate majority. When that blue shift kicks in and snatches those seats away from the R’s, there will be added rage since the Senate is almost as important as the presidency.
I am wondering how much of an impact this will really have. Every media organization understands this and of course they will keep repeating that it isn’t over until the mail-in ballots are counted. Biden is obviously not going to concede based on early Trump leads. And Trump can proclaim victory all he wants, he isn’t going to be able to stop the counting of votes. And if Biden has in fact won, he will eventually be declared the winner. Yes Trump supporters will be angry but at the end Biden will become President. I think we can all rule out any kind of graceful handover of power regardless of what happens. But I don’t think a scenario where Trump can actually stop a transfer of power even though he has lost is plausible.
This is a giant clusterfuck waiting to happen and the problems will only benefit Donald J. Trump.
Counting mail ballots can be extremely tedious and slow. In some states, signatures have to “match” and there are no explicit rules governing how that is determined. In some states, the count doesn’t even begin until election day and there may be a deadline for finishing that there is no hope of beating. Election officials are down in number this year to do a greater volume of work.
The nightmare scenario is looming. Republicans will use their powers in state legislations and a friendly Supreme Court to find every loophole they can to remain in power. Only later will we learn that Trump is getting four more years despite being outvoted by 15 million and losing the Electoral College by nearly a hundred.
Mitch McConnell: (shrug) “What are you gonna do?”
[cough] Fox News [cough] Breitbart [cough]