Monday, September 28

Public trust

Voters in swing states confront not only a barrage of advertising but also applications for mail-in ballots. So far, this household in Michigan has received six applications for mail-in ballots for each of the two adults, along with five more applications for a previous occupant who sold the home more than a decade ago. We are planning on voting in person.

With Joe Biden leading in most of the swing states, incumbent Donald Trump is clearly desperate, indicating that he may resist leaving office if his campaign deems the voting to be unfair. A pattern emerges, though – especially troubling as the country continues to wrestle with the Covid-19 pandemic:  Trump consistently blasts voting by mail for blue states, but offers no complaints about such procedures in red states.   

Analysts have expressed concern that some partisan officials may point to close races and disputes as a reason for not relying on each state’s popular vote for choosing electors who will then cast deciding votes through the Electoral College.

“The US constitution gives state legislatures the authority to appoint the 538 electors to the electoral college who ultimately elect the president,” reports Sam Levine for the Guardian. “States have long used the winner of the popular vote to determine who gets the electoral votes in their states, but Republicans anonymously told the Atlantic the campaign has discussed the possibility of using delays in the vote count as a basis to ask Republican-controlled legislatures to appoint their own electors, regardless of the final vote tally.”

All eyes are on swing states – Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. A problem for Biden and the Democrats is that Republicans control legislatures in eight of the nine key swing states. 

The secretary of state is the lead election official in most states; Democrat fill the role in five of the swing states while Republicans serve in four. The country is placing its trust in election officials throughout the country. Members of the National Association of Secretaries of State have approved and reaffirmed a resolution to “ensure that elections are run in a fair and non-artisan manner so that all voters, regardless of political affiliation, are well-served” and together “strive to create a system of checks and balances that ensures the fair and equal application of election laws and procedures."  

A heavy turnout is key to success for a democratic election, determining the winner of this crucial 2020 presidential race. But record voting, by mail or by person, could also result in delays for counting and announcing results.

Plenty of observers will be on hand, and states, including Michigan, have detailed rules for challengers and poll-watchers.

Data source, Ballotpedia and the Guardian; US image, FreeVectors

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