Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Voting Coercion, or Quid Pro Quo Deja Vu

[ Sigh ]

That's not how this works.  That's not how any of this works.

It's not how our voting laws work and it's not how federalism works.

To start, it's not illegal and is in fact a vital part of our electoral process.  It is the basis in which many important populations vote, including the president himself and our armed forces abroad.

For federal elections, 30 states allow some form of vote-by-mail for absentee or early voting.  In 2016, this accounted for 25% of the ballots cast in the presidential election, or roughly 33 million ballots.

There are also five states (Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, and California), that are conducting all vote-by-mail elections.  Oregon was the first state to conduct a presidential election entirely by mail back in 2000.  80% of registered voters participated at that time.

From polls this year, 58% of Americans favor vote-by-mail, despite the Republican and Fox News efforts to scare people into opposition.

The fear comes from a belief that Republicans lose if vote by mail is expanded to allow everyone to vote by mail.  President Trump said in March that the policy would mean, "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again."  Georgia's Republican speaker of the House said vote-by-mail would be "extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia."  Partisan concerns over vote by mail also motivated the recent actions in Wisconsin during the height of the pandemic regarding their state's primary election.

A recent study, however, has reaffirmed years of prior research that neither party benefits when a state switches to universal vote by mail.  There is a negligible effect on partisan rates.  It is truly a non-partisan issue.

What it does, though, is raise across the board voter turnout.  "Vote-by-mail causes around a 2-percentage-point increase (estimates range from 1.9 to 2.4 percentage points) in the share of the voting-age population that turns out to vote."

That should be something both parties wish to achieve.  That should have bi-partisan support.
And yet, here we are.

Neither Nevada nor Michigan are doing anything that should come under President Trump's direction.  The states have vast control in forms of voting, voting eligibility, voting requirements in both state and federal elections.  The federal government has limited control.  

Trump's strong arm tactics are unsurprising, mob tactics that he has demonstrated before.  At their most base level, they are simply an overreach.  An abuse of power that he does not have.  If this were any other presidency, this would be an impeachable offense.

What is particularly galling is that the funding he is threatening to withhold to Michigan is FEMA disaster relief funding needed from the flooding resulting from the bursting of dams in Midland County, mid-Michigan.  He's once again leveraging humanitarian aid for political obedience.

We suspected he would learn nothing from his impeachment, and we are correct.

We have to start speaking out in louder voices.  To support Michigan and Nevada.  To condemn this kind of quid pro quo.  And it should be coming from both sides of the political spectrum.

Otherwise, I feel we will find ourselves in a similar state as Georgia, where the Republican governor cancelled a democratic election to fill the seat on the state Supreme Court so he could appoint the new justice himself.  From February, when the state justice resigned to May, when the election was to be held, factions in the state have been fighting over interpretations of narrow provisions of the state constitution that would determine whether the governor could appoint or whether it should go to election.  The fight progressed all the way to Georgia's Supreme Court.  To hear the case, six of the state justices had to recuse themselves and be replaced by lower court judges.  It's so complicated a scheme to get approval for the gubernatorial appointment that it should be particularly galling.

We are moving rapidly from democracy to authoritarianism in ways that should seem shocking, but instead seem common place.  

Have we become that desensitized?

Will we wake up from it?

Perhaps the ad has it right - it is mourning in America.

1 comment:

  1. I cannot wait until I am old enough to vote online. I hate to hunt my voting site. in the last 4 years, 4 different sites. Maruriceville School, Maurcieville Fire House, Mauriceville Assembly of God and the Activity Center of the Methodist Church, which no longer exists.