(View of Capitol Hill, shrouded in fog in Washington DC, on Dec. 17, 2019. Photo by Liu Jie/Xinhua, via Getty Images.)
Things are bad right now, I’m not going to sugar coat it. A brilliant article by Barton Gellman was just published in The Atlantic that has laid out the strategy that Republicans have been exploring to secure Trump’s second term, even if he loses the election. According to Barton, who is citing sources from the Trump Campaign, there has been a contingency plan “to bypass the election results and appoint local electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority.”
Citing the president’s baseless claims of fraud, the Trump Campaign could delay a vote count, state by state, by initiating lawsuits and running out the clock on the legal deadline for the count. They would then ask GOP-controlled state governments to choose electors, completely ignoring an unfavorable or uncertain popular vote, and cite the false claims of fraud and the deadline as an excuse.
A Trump Campaign legal advisor explained the process to Barton saying, “The state legislatures will say, ‘All right, we’ve been given this constitutional power.’” The Trump advisor continued, saying state leaders would then say, “‘We don’t think the results of our own state are accurate, so here’s our slate of electors that we think properly reflect the results of our state.’”
To put it in the most plain and succinct terms possible, this would be a coup. There are already credible reports of Trump attempting to discourage voters who might cast ballots against, him by sowing doubt in the legitimacy of mail-in ballots. Trump has already interfered with the US Postal Service, his own agency that will be responsible for safely delivering those ballots, through his lackey Louis DeJoy.
In addition, he has tried to recruit “law enforcement” as poll watchers, to intimidate voters, and he has toyed with the idea of delaying the election altogether, openly stating that he won’t accept any results he doesn’t like. Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine confidence in the upcoming election, spreading falsehoods about voting by mail and declaring the election “rigged” before any votes have even been cast.
A second day of early voting in Virginia was disrupted by Trump supporters who formed a line outside of polling locations, forcing voters to encounter them. The rowdy crowds then moved around people trying to access the polls, as they waved campaign flags and chanted “four more years.” In a time when everyone casting an in-person ballot is already on edge from the pandemic, these tactics might seem small, but they are significant.
(Screengrab from video of Trump supporters outside of a polling location in Fairfax, Virginia, on Sept. 19, 2020. Via Yahoo News.)
Trump’s various attempts to chip away at votes cast for Biden rely on utilizing many different areas of subterfuge and one foundational importance: Trump must pull election night results that have him in the lead or close to Biden before all of the mail-in ballots are counted. His plan to cry “fraud” only works if he is close to Biden on election night, because then he can go to the courts to have the remaining ballots thrown out. If Trump loses on election night to Biden in a blow-out result, there is really very little he can do.
Trump has rigged a system so that his voters will turn out, in person, to vote on Election Day at the polls. He has helped to discourage voters who might vote for Biden, by helping to fuel fear of voting while contending with the coronavirus. He is doing this so that his largest lead in the election (if he has one) will come on election night, when he can declare himself the winner. The only way to stop this is to give Biden a landslide victory on election night.
(A woman drops off her ballot at a voting box in Montgomery County in North Carolina ahead of the 2020 election. Photo by Matt Rourke, via Associated Press.)
Voting is simply not enough at this point. In addition to your personal vote for Biden, you need to be registering new voters who will vote for Biden, especially in pivotal swing states like PA, FL, MI, WI, OH and AZ. You need to make sure other people understand that this election is not a lock without a massive Biden turnout. No one can sit this election out.
It is also critical that we gain a Democratic majority in the Senate while keeping the majority in the House of Representatives. This means that we need a tremendous amount of voters to actually go to the polls and vote a complete Democratic ticket. One way to help another state with this endeavor is to sponsor a Democratic candidate who is in a closely contested race for Senate. You can find several options here.
If Trump is successful in keeping the race close with Biden on election night, the lawsuits will begin, and pivotal cases will ultimately head to the Supreme Court. He is preparing now to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat with someone who will cast decisions in the way he wants and counter Chief Justice Roberts' ability to be the swing vote of reason.
(Image of the flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as she lies in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the US Supreme Court building on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo by Andrew Harnik, via Getty Images.)
Just as important is the need to preemptively elect a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress while electing Biden, so that future attempts at power grabs can be checked by the legislative branch and any further Trump bastardizations of the Supreme Court can be remedied by adding more Justices under the Constitution. Taking the Senate is the only thing that will protect us from what may be coming, even when Biden is elected president.
Put all of your focus into voter turnout and into telling everyone you talk to that each person needs to vote and the reasons why. Be sure to stress that voting at the polls in person is best if at all possible. If your state has the option of drop off ballots at marked boxes, that is the next best option. Each person who uses mail-in voting and who votes in person needs to check online through the Secretary of State where they live to make sure their vote was counted after casting a vote. Explain this level of responsible voting and then keep working on registering more people to vote — here are several organizations that you can get involved with today to do more:
Volunteer with a candidate you support
Finally, I will leave you with this piece of artwork that is going around social media. I don’t know who the original creator is and I would love to give them credit, so please comment below if you know who made it. I think this image says everything about what we need to focus on in the next 40 days:
Amee Vanderpool writes the SHERO Newsletter and is an attorney, published author, contributor to newspapers and magazines and analyst for BBC radio. She can be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.
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