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Both Sides: Mail-In Voting and the Election
“I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all”
— Joni Mitchell
“Both Sides Now” – Rock Cellar Examines The Issues of the Day
Our intent is to not try to force-feed any particular opinion, but rather to present both sides of an issue. Our hope is that you read “both sides,” to at least appreciate that there’s usually (at least) two sides to every complex issue.
This Month’s Topic: Mail-In Voting and the November 3rd General Election
PRO MAIL-IN VOTING: Hey Mister Postman! Deliver de Ballot de Sooner de Better!
President Trump is responding to the demand to “defund police” by cutting resources to another governmental entity instead: The post office. According to Forbes: “Since being appointed postmaster general in May, Louis DeJoy… has enacted highly controversial changes to U.S. Postal Service protocol that workers say resulted in massive delays in mail delivery, including cutting overtime for postal workers, the nationwide removal of mail collection boxes and decommissioning or dismantling of hundreds of high speed mail sorting machines across the country.”
The New York Times noted that DeJoy’s “measures … have been faulted for slowing mail delivery … of important medicines, paychecks and documents.”
On Aug. 13 the self-incriminating, transparent Trump told Fox News: “They want three and a half billion dollars for the mail-in votes. They want $25 billion, billion, for the post office. Now they need that money in order to make the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because you, they’re not equipped to have it.”
The UK’s Independent explained there’s “a surge of requests for mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, as states seek to expand access to remote voting as a way of protecting against the virus.”
According to Sen. Bernie Sanders, “For once in his life Donald Trump was actually honest… He made it very clear that he wanted to do everything possible to suppress the vote and make it difficult for people to participate in November’s elections. He told the American people that he was going to defund and destroy the United States Postal Service so that, during this pandemic, they cannot have the opportunity to vote for president and in other important races. In other words, he is forcing people to make a choice between getting sick and even dying, or casting a ballot. Outrageous.”
On Aug. 23, Trump tossed fuel on the fire, posting on Facebook and Twitter that mail drop boxes at polling stations – which enable voters to drop off their ballots without having to wait on often long lines during a plague – are “a voter security disaster” that “make it possible… to vote multiple times.” The conspiracy theory spewer-in-chief dubiously added, “They [mail drop boxes] are not Covid sanitized. A big fraud!” Twitter flagged Trump’s tweet “for making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting.”
Why is Trump ranting and raving that the scheduled November election is “rigged”? What motivated Trump and his crony DeJoy’s jihad against the post office? As Quinta Jerecic and Benjamin Wittes pointed out in The Atlantic: “The significance, rather, is the suggestion that if the election is held on time… and if a lot of people vote by mail, and if Trump loses, that the election should somehow be rendered illegitimate. ‘Mail ballots are very dangerous for this country because of cheaters,’ he commented at the White House on July 31… If you’re not going to win in a fair fight, painting the fight as unfair serves a number of useful purposes. Now as then, it creates a grievance-based excuse for a loss. It offers, at least if the race is close, a narrative basis for contesting the outcome, politically, if not legally. And at a purely emotional level, it protects Trump from having to face failure.”
In late August, outrage against Trump’s going postal sparked House and Senate hearings, where DeJoy testified that, among other things, he didn’t know the cost of mailing a postcard. On Aug. 23 the House passed legislation to provide the USPS with $25 billion – although the funding also requires approval in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Somewhere in Trump’s reptilian skull he knows he lost the popular vote by 3 million ballots in 2016, that he’s had historically high unfavorable ratings throughout his presidency, that his criminal pandemic bungling has contributed to 180,000-plus deaths and a ruined economy. Unable to win reelection fair and square and terrified the Southern District of New York will jail him once he leaves office, Trump is deviously siccing his handpicked henchmen to disenfranchise millions of voters through the post office.
What exactly qualifies killjoy DeJoy’s to become America’s postmaster general? Forbes reports he is “a prolific GOP fundraiser and Trump donor.” PolitiFact adds that: “Campaign finance data shows that DeJoy has contributed more than $440,000 to Republican causes since January 2020,” including to the Trump Victory Committee. Making matters even swampier, PolitiFact notes that DeJoy and his wife, Aldona Wos, an ex-U.S. ambassador to Estonia nominated to serve as ambassador to Canada, appear to have a substantial conflict of interest vis-à-vis the post office: “The Washington Post reported in June that DeJoy and Wos hold ‘between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in assets in USPS competitors or contractors, according to Wos’ financial disclosure paperwork filed with the Office of Government Ethics.’”
Of course, DeJoy’s main qualification for the job is his willingness to do anything in order for Trump to fix the election.
CON MAIL-IN VOTING: Deliverance from Voter Shenanigans
The Trump administration is diligently working to ensure that November’s presidential election will be legitimate and free of voter fraud. In a June 15 interview on The Savage Nation radio program Pres. Donald J. Trump warned that expanding mail-in ballots would increase “the chance of theft, where they steal them, they hold up mailmen, they take them out of mailboxes, they print them fraudulently.” Trump told host Michael Savage that a friend’s son who’d died seven years ago recently received a mail-in ballot in his son’s name. “These mistakes are made by the millions,” Trump asserted.
Almost a week later, as quoted in Breitbart, U.S. Attorney General William Barr told Maria Bartiromo on Fox News Channel’s Sunday Morning Futures: “I’m also worried about undermining the public confidence in the integrity of the elections. The thing we have going for us, especially when there’s intense division in the country, is that we have peaceful transfers of power. And our way of resolving it is to have an election. But when… state governments start adopting these practices like mail-in ballots that open the floodgates of potential fraud, then people’s confidence in the outcome of the election is going to be undermined. And that could take the country to a very dark place, if we lose confidence in the outcomes of our elections…”
The A.G. went on to say: “[Mail-in voting] absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud. Those things are delivered into mailboxes. They can be taken out. There’s questions about whether or not it even denies a secret ballot, because a lot of the states have you signing the outside of the envelope. So, the person who opens… the envelope will know how people voted… Right now, a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots, and [it could] be very hard for us to detect which was the right and which was the wrong ballot. So, I think it can… upset and undercut the confidence in the integrity of our elections. If anything, we should tighten them up right now.”
Shortly after the A.G. made his comments, in a series of tweets President Trump warned: “This will be the Election disaster of our time. Mail-In Ballots will lead to a RIGGED ELECTION!” In a subsequent message he tweeted in all-caps: “RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!” This was followed by: “Because of MAIL-IN BALLOTS, 2020 will be the most RIGGED Election in our nations [sic] history – unless this stupidity is ended.” Trump also charged his political adversaries of “using Covid in order to cheat by using Mail-Ins.”
The president – who himself votes via absentee ballot, as does First Lady Melania Trump – carves out some exceptions when it comes to casting ballots through the U.S. Postal System. In his June 15 radio interview with Michael Savage, Trump said: “Go to a voting booth and vote. Unless you’re an absentee, in which case they have to go through a whole process. In order to vote, they have to go through a very strict process. The equivalent of going to a voting machine, or maybe even sometimes better.”
He also considers the Sunshine State, where the president is now registered to vote, to be exempt from condemnation for voting via the USPS. “Trump has been railing against mail-in voting for months, claiming… that widespread vote-by-mail will be riddled with fraud. He did make an exception for Florida, though, tweeting last week that Floridians should request mail-in ballots. Florida’s ‘state Republican Party happens to have a very robust and long-term vote by mail program…’ Politico politics editor Scott Bland said.”
There has been much speculation that recent changes made at the post office since Louis DeJoy became its chief have been politically motivated and intended to suppress voting. DeJoy sought to put these fears to rest when he testified before the House Oversight Committee on Aug. 24: “On June 15th, I became America’s 75th Postmaster General. Since that time, for a variety of reasons, there has been a great deal of attention to the postal service by our elected officials, the media and the American people. I want to begin by assuring this committee and the American public that the postal service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s ballots securely and on time. This sacred duty is my number one priority between now and Election Day. To be clear, we will do everything we can to handle and deliver election mail in a manner consistent with the proven processes and procedures that we have relied upon for years. Nevertheless, I encourage all Americans who choose to vote by mail to request their ballots early and to vote early as a common sense best practice.” DeJoy added that changes made by USPS since he took office were intended to make postal delivery more efficient.
On the same day DeJoy testified before the House Pres. Trump tweeted another cautionary warning: “All the Radical Left Democrats are trying to do with the Post Office hearings is blame the Republicans for the FRAUD that will occur because of the 51 Million Ballots that are being sent to people who have not even requested them. They are setting the table for a BIG MESS!”
Ed Rampell is an L.A.-based film historian/critic, journalist and author who wrote “Progressive Hollywood, A People’s Film History of the United States” and co-authored “The Hawaii Movie and Television Book.” Rampell is an authority on the history of the Hollywood Blacklist, and a frequent arts contributor to Rock Cellar. He has also written for The Progressive, Mother Jones, Hollywood Progressive, The Nation, L.A. Progressive, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Progressive Populist and The Guardian – covering political and arts-related stories. Ed is one of Los Angeles’ most prolific film, theatre, and opera critics and was named after legendary CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow. Ed’s new dramatic screenplay is based on true events that spotlight social injustice, racism and solidarity.
October 30, 2020
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