Fri. 10/30: Note to self… Trump is NOT in charge of this election.

Quote: For those of us only remember part of the first line of Roosevelt’s inauguration speech of 1933 (our hand is up!), it’s worth reading the whole thing, which sounds like it could have been written yesterday.

#1 – Let’s take a breath here…

Our email and media feeds are flooded with potential election stealing and violence at the polls. Not only may these visions be overblown, but they may, in fact, be turning fear into a weapon against us, intimidating us from voting this criminal administration out of office.

Today, we were given permission from writer/observer R. Hubbell, to reprint his Oct. 28th article, to remind us the safeguards even a tyrant like Trump can’t touch. (You can subscribe to his great newsletter here.)

It is a sad reality that our president is not elected directly by the citizens of the United States. For good or ill, the Framers of the Constitution created a body that we now refer to as the “Electoral College.” The Electoral College elects the president and vice president, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and enabling legislation. The Constitution and statutes provide that states may count votes from November 4th through December 8, 2020, with the latter date serving as the deadline for states to certify the selection of their Electors to the National Archivist. Six days later (December 14), the Electors meet in their respective states to cast their ballots in accordance with their state’s election results. For a general description of the timeline, see Congressional Research Service, “The Electoral College: A 2020 Presidential Election Timeline.” The election of the president becomes official on January 6, 2021 when Congress counts the votes cast by the Electors in their respective state meetings.

Do you notice anything missing from that timeline? There is no requirement that the winner of the presidential election be “declared” on the evening of Election Day. Nor is there any requirement that states “complete” their vote counts on Election Day. To the contrary, the Constitution and enabling statutes expressly grant states through and including December 8, 2020 to notify the National Archivist of the results of the state elections. The custom of “declaring” a winning on evening of Election Day is a media creation of the 20th Century. See The Brennan Center for Justice, “The Media Can’t Treat Election Night 2020 Like Years Past.” Notwithstanding the protestations of Donald Trump and Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the contrary, the inability to “declare” a winner on November 3rd says nothing about the legitimacy of the election or the right of states to continue to count ballots after Election Day. Trump and Kavanaugh are engaged in a cynical gambit to undermine the results of the 2020 election.

The manner in which states count ballots and announce election results varies state-by-state. Some states have already begun counting ballots, while others are prohibited from counting early returns until voting closes on November 3rd. See NPR, “When Will Mail-In Ballots Be Counted? See States’ Processing Timelines.” As a result, election returns on Election Day eve will look like a dog’s breakfast. Some states will release mail ballot tallies first, while others may delay releasing mail ballot results. Accordingly, early and incomplete vote totals will undoubtedly provide a distorted version of the final count. We saw this phenomenon at work in 2018, when Democrats were dejected the day after Election Day because of a less than expected margin of victory in the House. But as mail ballots were counted, Democrats were delighted time-and-again as mail ballots gave Democrats a string of victories and a commanding majority in the House. These “mirages” will be amplified in 2020 because of the outsized early vote. See Reuters, “Explainer: Red mirage, blue mirage – Beware of early U.S. election wins.”    

Twenty states will count mail ballots that arrive after Election Day (if they are postmarked on or before Election Day), but the cut-off dates vary widely. See USA Today, How to make sure your mail-in ballot is counted and not discarded.” The arrival and counting of mail ballots after Election Day effectively ensures that the results of the presidential election will not be known on November 3rd, 2020. It is possible that a clear picture may not emerge for a week, perhaps more. There are some scenarios under which it will be clear almost immediately that Trump cannot win. For example, if it becomes clear that Trump has lost Florida, while Biden has won Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, there is no realistic path to victory for Trump. It will be all over but the shouting.

I lay out the above to make this point: Do not expect clarity or certainty on November 3, 2020. Instead, we should view next week as “Election Week.” Set a marker for Friday, November 6 as a date for assessing where we are in the counting process. Earlier certainty will be good news for Biden, but longer counts are not necessarily bad news. It will require discipline and self-control to avoid a roller-coaster of emotions next week. Don’t abuse yourself by over-interpreting every news update with more preliminary results. While the major media outlets are reminding themselves not to make hasty predictions, if their behavior this week is any indication, they will be unable to restrain themselves. Limit your media consumption to defined periods, turn off audible alerts and buzzes for breaking news. Put yourself into control of how and when you choose to check on updates. 

Indications are that Trump has ads ready to announce that has been re-elected. He has scheduled a victory party at his hotel in D.C. Accept the fact that he will claim victory though not all votes have been received, much less counted. His declaration of victory is a psychological ploy that will allow him to retreat from the presidency without conceding defeat, claiming instead that the election was “stolen” from him by “universal mail ballots.” If that is what it takes to get him to vacate the Oval Office, it is a cheap price to pay. Don’t let his preening psychodrama and mind-games get inside your head. The constitutional order will prevail, no matter what Trump says.

Concluding Thoughts. I know that it is difficult and disappointing that after four years of effort, we will not (likely) have a final answer on Election Day. But we have endured other political dramas that seemed to drag on forever. Remember the Mueller investigation and the impeachment trial? After those disappointments, waiting a week or so for good news should be easy. Stay strong, stay the course, and remain calm. We will see this through together.”

#2 – A word from Indivisible Ventura.

Indivisible Ventura and other community groups are working together in case organized social action is required after the election. But we hope that decisive voting alone will sweep this administration out of office.

For now, if you or any of your friends have been frozen – in fear, in depression, in apathy or in anger…please try some of the tools we list in our “Friends and Family Voting Toolbank.”

Every American citizen gets just one vote, even the country’s most politically powerful or wealthiest. Just one. This tiny minority’s power is drawn from convincing us to either vote against our own interests, or more powerfully, to convince us that our vote doesn’t matter.

Don’t fall for it. Put your mail-in ballot in a REAL ballot box, or walk into a voting booth, and VISUALIZE EXACTLY WHOSE VOTE YOU’RE CANCELLING OUT. We like to imagine Trump’s face, any of his nepotistic followers’. Visualize your vote knocking out Mitch McConnell’s. Or Devon Nunes’. Or Stephen Miller’s. Or Charles Koch’s.

Your vote and your friends’ votes are equal to any of theirs. Don’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime to save our country. Vote against vote. Boom! Sink their battleship!

More reading!

  • Yahoo: Trump wants election night result, but GOP has fought to make sure many ballots won’t be counted by then
  • NYT: How Long Will Vote Counting Take? Estimates and Deadlines in All 50 States
  • Vox: How long it could take to count the vote this year, explained
  • 866 Our Vote: This site has lots of voting information, as well as a hotline to ask questions or report incidents related to voting 


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