An Easy Way to Solve the Mail-In Vote Dilemma
Vote As Soon as You Can
- One thing Democrats could do—with basically no strategic downside—is to hammer home the message that voters should ask for and return their mail ballots as early as possible, which makes it more likely they'll be included in tallies on election night.
- In most states, mail ballots received by Election Day will be counted with other ballots on election day; in some states they'll even be counted first, in fact. It's ballots postmarked by E-Day but not yet received (allowed in some states but not all) that can cause a late shift.
- But if Democrats return their ballots sooner, the late shift could be mitigated or even reversed. There's maybe the slightest hint of that already in North Carolina, where Democrats represent 49% of absentee ballot *requests* but 54% of ballots *returned* so far.
The above courtesy of a Nate Silver Twitter Thread.
Some states allow early voting in person. That's also a good solution for those worried about lines and Covid.
There were some objections to Silver's Tweets. One concerned Ohio where if you request a mail-in ballot you have to vote mail-in or by a provisional vote if you change your mind.
I fail to understand the objection. Request a ballot early and vote early if you want to vote by mail. If you delay too long, then vote in person.
Four Pivotal States Likely Will Not be Called Election Evening
- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that ballots can arrive as late as Nov. 6 and still count as long as no evidence (e.g., a postmark) exists that they were mailed after Election Day (Nov. 3).
- A state judge in Michigan decreed that ballots can be counted as long as they are postmarked by the day before the election (Nov. 2) and received by Nov. 17.
- A federal judge ordered Wisconsin to count absentee ballots that are postmarked by Nov. 3 as long as they arrive by Nov. 9.
- And North Carolina reached a tentative court settlement with plaintiffs that, among other things, would allow ballots to count as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3 and arrive by Nov. 12. (However, the settlement still needs to be approved by a judge before it officially goes into effect.)
Legal Challenges to State Rulings
The GOP legislative leaders in Wisconsin have already appealed that decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Republicans say they plan to take the Pennsylvania decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The rulings, if upheld, and they should be, would give a tiny boost to Democrats.
If the challenges are upheld late enough, it could impact the outcome of the election in Pennsylvania or Wisconsin.
Either way, it increases the odds we do not know who won on election night.
Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina are swing states. If all four go uncalled on election night, then we likely will not have a declared winner.
The Wisconsin appeal will be heard by a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
That court includes Judge Amy Coney Barrett. It's unknown whether Barrett will wind up on the panel that hears the Wisconsin voting case.
The Pennsylvania Case may be much ado over nothing.
Republicans are asking the Supreme Court to weigh in only on the state court’s ruling pushing back the deadline for mail ballots to arrive. The state court ruled that such ballots must be counted if they are postmarked by Nov. 3 — and even if they are not, “unless a preponderance of the evidence” shows that the ballots were mailed after Election Day.
Republicans argued that the ruling allows ballots to be counted even if they are cast after Election Day. “The Elections Clause of the United States Constitution vests the authority to regulate the times, places, and manner, of federal elections to Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, subject only to alteration by Congress, not this Court,” the Republicans wrote to the state court on Tuesday. The Hill first reported the filing. Democrats said they will oppose the GOP’s efforts to delay implementation of the new ballot deadline.
There are two issues in the Pennsylvania lawsuit. The first involves ballots postmarked by November 3. Those should be counted. And if they are, the second challenge is trivial.
The second issue pertains to counting late ballots “unless a preponderance of the evidence” shows that the ballots were mailed after Election Day.
The percentage of ballots with a missing or illegible postmark received after election day has to be miniscule.
In Pennsylvania you can easily request a mail-in ballot. So the simple remedy is to vote early.
Main-In Ballots Automatically Sent
Mail-in Applications Automatically Sent
All Voters Can Request a Mail-in Ballot
Voters Need an Excuse (Covid Does Not Count)
Mail in Voting Rules
The above maps from NPR's Mail-In Voting Rules By State.
Except for five states that do not rate to figure prominently on election night (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Indiana) voters have ample time to vote early by mail if they wish to do so.
Of those five states, it is conceivable, but not likely for Democrats to flip Texas.
Some Texas polls are within margins of error but Trump has about a 75% chance of winning that state by my estimation.
What Happens if Trump Refuses to Leave?
Please consider What Happens if Trump Refuses to Leave?
The concern is not about Trump refusing to leave if he loses. Rather, it's about steps he could take or states could take to declare the election invalid or come up with two sets of electors.
Trump and the states are not powerless. Pennsylvania could become a powderkeg if the vote count is very close.
94% Say Their Mind is Made Up
If your mind is made up, then there is no excuse (except in 5 states) for not getting a mail-in ballot and voting early.
If you wish to decide later, then do so early enough that mail-in delays do not rate to be a problem or just vote in person.
Strong Advantage Biden
Made up minds benefit the person in the lead.
Like it or not, it is preposterous to suggest anything but a clear and substantial Biden lead.
Biden's lead is not insurmountable, however. Trump can still put it out.
But Biden is a solid favorite now and Trump needs a dramatic late reversal to pull out a victory.
Trump's challenges on mail-in voting (and other nonsensical Tweets) may very well be a huge effort to vote early.
The main irony is that early voting includes some who would not bother showing up on a bad-weather day to vote in person on election day.
In that regard, Trump's Tweets are counterproductive for him winning, but he just cannot shut his mouth.