What happens if Trump declares victory on election night, and tries to dispute any “late” uncounted ballots — both in the courts and in the free-for-all of public opinion?.
imagine this Nightmare Scenario: With so many more Biden supporters voting by
mail in a close election, it is likely President Trump will be ahead on
election night, based on partial returns in a number of battleground states (a
scenario that has been called “a red mirage”).
Trump already has furiously deployed his Twitter soap box to discredit mailed
in ballots as fraudulent (even though he himself has often voted absentee). He
also has hinted that he may not accept the election results.
Florida’s gubernatorial and senate elections in 2018, as absentee ballots were
counted and the Democratic candidates narrowed the vote gap to a sliver, Trump
tweeted that “large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many
ballots are missing or forged…Must go with Election Night!”
happens if Trump declares victory on election night, and then tries to dispute
any “late” uncounted ballots, both in the courts and in the free-for-all of
the nation will be gripped in a replay of Bush v. Gore in the 2000 election —
but not just in one, but in several battleground states. Recall the partisan
clashes and low-intensity violence that occurred in 2000 on the picket lines
outside the hand counts in Florida.
2000, during the course of a five-week legal war over hanging chads and the
rules for ballot counting, protesters in combat fatigues held aloft signs
saying things like “Bush or Revolution,” with “revolution” in bloody scrawl.
letters were mailed to judges, including one with an illustration of a skull
and crossbones. When George W. Bush was finally declared president on December
12, 2000, thousands of Floridians’ ballots still sat in piles across the state,
not properly counted, because the US Supreme Court aborted the process.
constitutional crisis in the making?
the run up to this 2020 election, already four protesters have been killed —
one by the police. This has all the makings of a constitutional crisis looming
like a category 5 hurricane just offshore.
election is thrown into the hands of a conservative-majority U.S. Supreme
Court, well — as the nation saw in Bush v. Gore — “five votes beats a reason
any day.” The recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg tilts the court even more
toward pro-Trump partisanship.
a constitutional crisis
we prevent this election meltdown? One important step is that voters in U.S.
battleground states should forget voting by mail. Instead, those voters need to
put on their masks and go stand in line and vote, either before or on election
it’s riskier for your personal health, but in the current climate vote by mail
is riskier for our representative democracy.
in person and U.S. democracy
terrible choice to have to make in the middle of a pandemic. But unless you
have a compromised immune system, you should not mail in your ballot. Instead,
you should show up to vote.
a number of states allow you to vote in person BEFORE election day. Spreading
out voting over many days and weeks will cut down considerably on long lines.
Other states allow you to drop off your absentee vote with election officials
before election day, which is preferable to mailing it in.
problem with that strategy is that your absentee ballot may not get counted
before the tally is released on election night. It all depends on the election
procedures in each state, which vary widely.
example, in the U.S. battleground states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan,
New Hampshire and Iowa, the counting of dropped-off absentee ballots cannot
begin before election day.
election night, many of those ballots will likely still lie uncounted. It
depends on how overwhelmed the voting bureaucracy is, or even the whim of
partisan election officials.
states, Biden voters need to show up in person wearing their masks and vote.
Don’t even drop off your ballot before election day, because your ballot will
not be counted until after the election, and that will contribute to the “red
madness of state rules for federal elections
other battleground states — notably Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Colorado,
Nevada and Arizona — election officials are allowed to count early absentee
ballots before election day, and then release those vote totals right after the
closing of the polls on November 3.
states also open vote centers many days or weeks before the polls, where any
voter can immediately vote.
states, voters with absentee ballots should drop them off early in an official
dropbox or at one of the vote centers, rather than mailing them. Even better
would be to show up early with your mask on and vote at one of the vote
ballot dead end
Democrats and their allies are starting to figure out the “mail ballot dead
end” they have steered themselves into. Georgia leader Stacy Abrams and her
voter empowerment group Fair Fight are encouraging voters to “get your vote
counted as soon as you can.”
emphasize voting early either in person, using an official drop-off box, or by
mail. Also, the deal struck by NBA players with team owners to use their
facilities as sites for early voting with enough room for social distancing is
a step in the right direction.
these efforts could well be ineffective for those voters who live in one of the
swing states that will not count absentee ballots until election day. Those
voters run the risk of their ballots not being included in the election night
turn, will contribute to the “red mirage” of Trump falsely appearing to lead
and immediately declaring victory – profound U.S. constitutional crisis, 2020.
we don’t realize on November 4 that the Biden campaign blundered by
over-promoting vote by mail, and that this gave Trump the opening he needed to
steal this election.
Hill is a journalist and author of the recently published book Die Startup
Illusion: Wie die Internet-Ökonomie unseren Sozialstaat ruiniert
(www.Startup-Illusion.com). Find him at www.Steven-Hill.com and @StevenHIll1776
the Spring 2016 Holtzbrinck fellow at the American Academy in Berlin and is a
former senior fellow with the New America Foundation in Washington DC.
latest books include Raw Deal: How the “Uber Economy” and Runaway Capitalism
Are Screwing American Workers, which was selected by The Globalist as one of
the Top Ten Books of 2015, and Expand Social Security Now: How to Ensure
Americans Get the Retirement They Deserve.
previous books include the internationally-praised Europe’s Promise: Why the
European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age and 10 Steps to Repair
articles and media interviews have appeared in the New York Times, Washington
Post, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, CNN, BBC, CNBC, C-SPAN, Bloomberg
Business, Fox News, ARD, Financial Times, The Guardian, Die Zeit, Handelsblatt,
Le Monde, Tagesspiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung,
Politico, Fast Company, Business Insider, Forbes, Salon, San Francisco
Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, The Nation, Washington
Monthly, American Prospect and many others.
in San Francisco, CA. He is co-founder of FairVote and former director of the
political reform program at the New America Foundation. For more information,
visit Steven Hill’s website at www.Steven-Hill.com and follow him