2020.09.25

Covid election coronavirus 2020 presidential

Source.

So there was a pretty lengthy article in The Atlantic about what could be in store for November. It's absolutely worth the read, but here's a tldr with some silly graphics.

In keeping with an opinionated by apolitical site and the [i]nformative tag, I'll keep the discussion party-agnostic. While the article derives its relevance from a single candidate in this election, the mechanics apply equally to all.

What are we even talking about?

The country will be doing some voting in the days leading up to November 3rd. Things are a bit different these days:
The bottom line of the Atlantic piece is that this election cycle may see voter suppression unequaled in recent history.

Voter suppression? Is this just one side crying wolf?

At worst, it's an exercise in hypotheticals, but there have been some indications beyond the opportunities created by the bulleted list above. Major players on either side of the ticket have openly advocated for abornmal handling of this election. The Atlantic article references a few sources, e.g.

At the time, [Justin] Clark was a senior lieutenant with [Candidate]’s re­election campaign; in July, he was promoted to deputy campaign manager. "Wisconsin's the state that is going to tip this one way or the other ... So it makes [Election Day Operations] really, really, really important," he said. He put the mission bluntly: "Traditionally it's always been Republicans suppressing votes ... [Democrats’] voters are all in one part of the state, so let’s start playing offense a little bit. And that's what you’re going to see in 2020. That's what's going to be markedly different. "

More on election day operations and other sources a couple sections down.

Does election interference even work? There are 350 million-ish Americans.

It seems so. Everyone is acquainted with the idea of battleground states/districts in the context of electoral college/winner-take-all voting. Simply, our system of choosing a president allows political operators to decide what districts they want to campaign in and which contests they would throw out if they could. It means a small investment yields game-changing rewards.

Brooks Brothers Riot Florida

Source.

And so you get targeted action to the precision of the Brooks Brothers Riot wherein a fake protest was staged to prevent a specific recount in 2000.

Geographical biases in voting outcomes are probably no suprise to anyone, the following may not be either:
And so it becomes a numbers game. Given a yet-unexplained mechanism for removing votes from the system, political operators have options for skewing polling results in their favor.

Election day operations/consent decree

In 2018, a federal judge allowed the consent decree to expire, ruling that the plaintiffs had no proof of recent violations by [party]. The consent decree, by this logic, was not needed, because it worked.

The order had its origins in the New Jersey gubernatorial election of 1981. According to the district court’s opinion in Democratic National Committee v. Republican National Committee, the [party] allegedly tried to intimidate voters by hiring off-duty law-enforcement officers as members of a "National Ballot Security Task Force," some of them armed and carrying two-way radios. According to the plaintiffs, they stopped and questioned voters in minority neighborhoods, blocked voters from entering the polls, forcibly restrained poll workers, challenged people’s eligibility to vote, warned of criminal charges for casting an illegal ballot, and generally did their best to frighten voters away from the polls. The power of these methods relied on well-founded fears among people of color about contact with police.
An election interference playbook

Lukashenko vote election

Source.

Pre-November 03: organize

November 03: EDO

November-December: litigate

The Atlantic piece covers the important dates for finalizing vote tallies, selecting electors, and sending results to Congress.

January: victory or the longball

If all is lost, throw the hail mary and use the ambiguity of constitional language to change the process. Is the supreme court on your side?
Mitigations

Crappy stock art risk matrix

Source.

Risk Mitigation/self Mitigation/other voters
Mail-in ballots are easier to reject. Vote in person. Raise awareness.
USPS load during covid. Vote in person, use a drop box if you cannot vote in person, mail your ballot early if you cannot use a drop box. Raise awareness.
Polling place congestion from covid, increased turnout, EDO. Vote early in the day, take the day off, offer assistance to people in queue. Raise awareness, volunteer.
EDO voter suppression. Ignore anyone outside a polling place that isn't a local police officer and identifies themself as such. Bring a recording device and collect their information, particularly if they claim to be law enforcement but are not. Raise awareness before November. Inform local law enforcement of the presence of EDO. Graciously shadow them and inform voters that they are a political operative. Document any instances of voter suppression. Do not escalate the situation, remember that more votes = more democracy, regardless of candidate.
Post-election day litigation. None. None.

A brief digression into the impossible

Mel Gibson The Patriot

Source.

The hail mary scenario won't come to pass. There's no reality in which enough people believe they'll escape the justice system by trying to perpetrate a coup. But we're all stuck indoors right now and for some reason people love to talk about the Reichstag Fire. Just remember it's not 1776. The People's ultimate check on an oppressive government isn't running around with a rifle. The People's ultimate check on an oppressive government is the general strike.