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« Reply #210 on: Sep 22, 2020, 03:41 AM »


Jeffrey Toobin warns Republicans in NC and WI could declare Trump the winner — regardless of the vote

on September 21, 2020
Raw Story
By Matthew Chapman

On CNN Monday, chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin warned of a possible scenario in which close states with right-wing legislatures could find a pretext to overturn the election and hand their electoral votes to President Donald Trump.

“What is so remarkable is how many different tentacles there are,” said Toobin. “Bush v. Gore was just about Florida. But there are now literally 200 lawsuits pending around the country about various issues relating to voting.”

“Let me just give you one example of the issues that are out there,” said Toobin. “Most people don’t know this, but under the Constitution, a state legislature can decide to award the electoral votes to the candidate of its choice, regardless of the voters. So if you have contested elections in North Carolina, in Wisconsin, states with active and very conservative Republican majorities, they can say, you know, this election is too chaotic, we are awarding our electoral votes to Donald Trump. That is a possibility that exists. And people need to start focusing on it now, because it is a real possibility.”

Watch: https://youtu.be/r9ZRxd2FJic

**************

Here’s the doomsday scenario in Pennsylvania that could cost Joe Biden the election

on September 21, 2020
Raw Story
By Matthew Chapman

On Monday, the Philadelphia Inquirer walked through a potential voter error that could cost Joe Biden Pennsylvania — the exclusion of so-called “naked ballots,” or mail-in ballots that aren’t properly sealed in two layers of envelopes.

“The state Supreme Court in Pennsylvania, a critical battleground state that’s seen as increasingly likely to determine who wins the White House, last week ordered officials to throw out ‘naked ballots’ — mail ballots that arrive without inner ‘secrecy envelopes,'” reported Jonathan Lai. “Pennsylvania uses a two-envelope mail ballot system: A completed ballot goes into a ‘secrecy envelope’ that has no identifying information, and then into a larger mailing envelope that the voter signs.”

“Philadelphia’s top elections official warned Monday that the court’s ruling ‘is going to cause electoral chaos,’ lead to tens of thousands of votes being thrown out, and put the state at the center of ‘significant postelection legal controversy, the likes of which we have not seen since Florida in 2000,'” said the report. In particular, “throwing out naked ballots could be costly for Biden, in a state President Donald Trump won by only about 44,000 votes in 2016, or less than 1%.”

Pennsylvania is rapidly expanding the use of mail-in voting, which has previously not been common in the state, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overwhelmingly, the voters seeking to vote by mail are Democrats, as Trump’s conspiracy theories about the practice has turned off many GOP voters from doing so.
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« Reply #211 on: Sep 22, 2020, 12:09 PM »


Second federal court orders USPS to reverse DeJoy’s changes end ensure timely delivery of mail-in ballots

on September 22, 2020
Raw Story

A federal judge in New York on Monday dealt the latest blow to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s effort to enact major operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service amid the coronavirus pandemic, ordering the post office to reverse the changes in the coming days.

In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Victor Marrero handed a victory to plaintiffs including Mondaire Jones, who won the Democratic primary in New York’s 17th congressional district in July and sued the USPS last month after DeJoy and President Donald Trump “deliberately incapacitated the postal service,” as Jones wrote in USA Today at the time.

Jones, New York state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, and mail-in voters in states including Wisconsin and Pennsylvania demanded that the court reverse changes such as the cutting of overtime pay for mail carriers and extra trips to ensure all mail is delivered in a timely manner.

Marrero on Monday ordered the USPS to treat all election mail as Priority and First Class mail starting September 25, as mail-in voting has already begun in states including North Carolina and Virginia; to pre-approve all overtime pay for post office workers between October 26 and November 6; and to file weekly reports keeping the public informed of its progress in ensuring all election-related mail can be delivered in time for votes to be tallied on November 3.

“The right to vote is too vital a value in our democracy to be left in a state of suspense in the minds of voters weeks before a presidential election,” Marrero wrote in his ruling.

    We did it.

    ✅ All election mail will be treated as First-Class Mail or Priority Mail Express
    ✅ USPS will pre-approve all overtime pay between Oct 26 – Nov 6, 2020
    ✅ USPS will submit a list of steps necessary to restore First-Class Mail & Marketing Mail on-time delivery scores https://t.co/BXEeyP2fzn

    — Mondaire Jones (@MondaireJones) September 21, 2020

Supporters of Jones, a progressive who is expected to win the general election on November 3, applauded his leadership in fighting DeJoy and Trump’s assault on the postal service.

    Soon-to-be Congressman @MondaireJones sued the Postmaster General — and won. Just like @USPS, this guy delivers. ✉️ https://t.co/ICGXws17Mo

    — Sally Hudson (@SallyLHudson) September 21, 2020

    Thank you @MondaireJones for protecting our postal service!
    THIS is what representation looks like. pic.twitter.com/dCzC8zYUvZ

    — Rockland United (@WeAreRockU) September 21, 2020

“I’m not waiting until January to notch big victories,” Jones wrote in a Tuesday email to supporters of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “Now more than ever, our democracy is on the line, our rights are on the line, and the fate of this nation is on the line. I’m grateful to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for affirming our right to a free and fair election in today’s win for all Americans.”

DeJoy’s cuts of overtime pay, removal of mail boxes and mail sorting machines, and other changes to the post office in recent months have raised alarm among voting rights advocates that voters in the general election will be disenfranchised by mail delivery delays. Most Americans will be able to vote by mail this year due to the coronavirus pandemic that has now killed more than 200,000 Americans amid Trump’s misinformation and mismanagement of the crisis.

Despite having voted by mail himself—and numerous studies debunking his claims—the president has repeatedly said the system will allow for so-called “voter fraud.” Marrero’s decision follows a ruling in Washington state last week, in which another federal judge blocked DeJoy’s operational changes and issued a nationwide injunction to reverse them, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling extending the state’s mail-in ballot deadline.

“With more Americans voting by mail this fall than ever before, we won’t have a free and fair election without the USPS. Period,” said Jones. “That’s why I filed this lawsuit, and it’s why I’m grateful for the Court’s decision to ensure the integrity of our elections.”
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« Reply #212 on: Sep 23, 2020, 05:20 AM »

Trump openly admits he wants to fill RBG vacancy before Election Day so his new Justice can help fight mail-in ballots

on September 23, 2020
By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

“They aren’t hiding that they want to confirm a new Trump justice so that justice can steal the election.”

Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump frankly stated his motive for rushing to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: To help him dispute the legitimacy of mail-in ballots in the November election.

“We need nine justices. You need that. With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they’re sending, it’s a scam, it’s a hoax,” said the president, who for months has falsely attacked mail-in voting as highly susceptible to fraud. “Everybody knows that. And the Democrats know it better than anybody else.”

Trump said pushing his nominee through the Republican-controlled Senate before Election Day—now just over 40 days away—”would be a very good thing” and baselessly claimed Democrats are “trying to sow confusion and everything else.”

“And, you know, when they talk about Russia, China, and all these others, they will be able to do something here because paper ballots are very simple—whether they counterfeit them, forge them, do whatever you want. It’s a very serious problem,” Trump said, without offering a shred of evidence for the supposed threat of ballot manipulation by other nations. “And the Democrats know what they’re doing is wrong, and all they want to do is go forward with it. So I think you’re going to need the nine justices.”

Watch:

    “We need 9 justices. You need that. With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they’re sending … you’re gonna need 9 justices.” — Trump suggests he’s counting on SCOTUS to have his back when he makes claims of election fraud following November’s election pic.twitter.com/Ju8ShMe8MN

    — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 22, 2020

Trump’s remarks Tuesday were the president’s latest attempt to preemptively cast doubt on the results of the November election by lying about mail-in voting, which states nationwide have expanded in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As Buzzfeed reported last week, the president’s reelection campaign and the national Republican Party are “devoting millions of dollars to wage a state-by-state legal battle against mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, not only suing state officials but also intervening in cases where they aren’t a party to limit how Americans can vote from home.”

With the unprecedented surge of mail-in ballots expected to delay the final election results for days or even weeks, voting rights groups and Democratic lawmakers are growing increasingly concerned that Trump could falsely declare victory on Election Night or refuse to accept the results if he loses to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The president’s latest comments, observers warned, suggest he is looking to rely on the conservative-dominated Supreme Court to provide his assault on the legitimacy of the election with a stamp of legal approval.

“They aren’t hiding that they want to confirm a new Trump justice so that justice can steal the election,” Ian Millhiser, senior correspondent at Vox, tweeted late Tuesday.

Journalist Matt O’Brien said the president “is like a Bond villain who can’t help but tell us about his plan to rig the election.”

“That’s telling his supporters to vote in person so he wins the votes that cast on Election Day itself and then suing to stop absentee ballots from being counted,” O’Brien added. “Bush v. Gore 2.0 is the plan.”

Earlier Tuesday—just before Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) officially ensured Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will have enough votes to move forward with the nominee—Trump tweeted that he will announce his Supreme Court pick on Saturday.

The current favorites, according to Politico, are Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa, right-wing judges who are both viewed as potential threats to Roe v. Wade.

“Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee met midday Tuesday to discuss different scenarios for how quickly they can process the nominee,” Politico reported. “No final decision was made, but a hearing could take place starting the week of October 12, according to a GOP aide.”
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« Reply #213 on: Sep 23, 2020, 05:54 AM »


Court ruling will likely make Maine first in US history to use ranked-choice in presidential election

on September 23, 2020
By Common Dreams

Ranked-choice voting advocates praised a state Supreme Court ruling in Maine on Tuesday that positions voters there to be the first in U.S. history to employ the practice in a presidential election.

“This is a victory for every Mainer who sat around kitchen tables and in basements years ago, wondering how we could ensure more votes would be heard in our elections,” Anna Kellar, executive director of the League of Women Voters, said in a statement following the decision. “It is a victory for the voters who showed up, year after year, affirming ‘yes, this is the reform we want for our state.’ We are proud to have been part of this next step in our nation’s history of better elections.”

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court overturned a lower court ruling that would have blocked the use of ranked-choice voting (RCV) in the presidential contest on November 3. Maine’s Republican Party has spearheaded attempts to prevent the use of RCV—which voters approved in 2016 and again in 2018—and the court’s historic opinion was the latest in a blow to GOP efforts.

A lower court ruled that Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap erroneously invalidated signatures collected for a “people’s veto” referendum on RCV, which Dunlap did according to state law that requires signature gatherers to be registered to vote in the towns where they circulate referendum petitions. Republicans argued Dunlap had disenfranchised voters by invalidating the signatures collected by non-registered voters, per state law.

    ME’s top court ruled today that @MESecOfState was correct in invalidating 988 flawed signatures collected by opponents to #RankedChoiceVoting. So, Maine will be the 1st state in US history to allow voters to rank candidates in order of preference when electing a president 🙌 https://t.co/Cdn2zn9bmG

    — League of Women Voters of Maine (@LWVME) September 22, 2020

“It is wonderful that Mainers will be able to use ranked-choice voting in presidential elections,” Betsy Sweet, a former U.S. Senate and Maine gubernatorial candidate who helped pass RCV in the state, told Common Dreams Tuesday. “It is disheartening that the Republicans continue to try and take away the expansion of democracy that ranked-choice voting represents, even after Mainers voted for it time and time again. I am glad the will of the people is being honored. Ranked-choice voting is an important, positive contribution to democracy.”

Tuesday’s ruling came on the heels of a op-ed in favor of RCV from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) in the Boston Globe last week. Citizens in Massachusetts and Alaska will vote on implementing the process in their states in November, as will residents of cities in California, Colorado, and Minnesota.

“Ranked-choice voting can make our elections more positive and require successful candidates to build broad coalitions,” Warren and Raskin wrote. “It can ensure that everyone’s vote counts and open the door to elections that more fairly represent the electorate. Most important, ranked-choice voting can make sure that the winning candidates have successfully appealed to the majority of the voters. That’s a stronger democracy.”

Proponents of RCV echo that sentiment, and say that it allows for more equitable elections, more positive campaigning, and eliminates the “spoiler” effect of crowded races.

The RCV process allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. Under the system, if no candidate wins the approval of more than half the voters after the first round of tabulation, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. When a voter’s first choice is eliminated, their vote is redistributed to the voter’s second choice. This process continues until one candidate gets at least 50% of vote.

“This ruling is the latest victory for voters who want more consensus, more choice, and a greater voice,” Evan Falchuk, chair of the board for Yes on 2, the RCV ballot initiative campaign in Massachusetts, told Common Dreams Tuesday. “Ranked-choice voting is popular, effective, constitutional and best reflects the will of the majority of voters.”

    There are no more barriers left. Maine will officially be the first state to utilize ranked-choice voting in a presidential election. Every single voter in Maine is now free to vote 3rd party without helping elect the person they hate most by doing so. Way to go, Maine! @fairvote https://t.co/QNCe3mC9pz

    — Scott Santens🧢🏄‍♂️ (@scottsantens) September 22, 2020

“This is a powerful moment for ranked choice voting supporters,” Rob Richie, president and CEO of FairVote, said in response to the ruling. “Voters will, for the first time, use ranked-choice voting to elect the highest office in the country.”

“America was founded on the promise that your vote matters,” Richie continued. “We haven’t always lived up to that promise, but over time, our nation’s citizens strived to ensure that every vote counts. This is a moment of celebration for those who advocated for ranked-choice voting in Maine, and also a moment of inspiration for every American who will look to Maine and realize they could bring ranked-choice voting to their state.”
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« Reply #214 on: Sep 23, 2020, 09:17 AM »


Trump’s campaign ‘is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results’ and keep him in power: report

on September 23, 2020
Raw Story
By Brad Reed

A startling new report from The Atlantic claims that President Donald Trump’s campaign is discussing truly radical measures aimed at keeping him in power even if he loses the 2020 presidential election.

The basic idea is to claim close swing-state losses by Trump are due to voter fraud — and use that as a justification to install “loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority” to override voters and back Trump in the electoral college.

“The state legislatures will say, ‘All right, we’ve been given this constitutional power. 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,'” a Trump campaign legal adviser tells The Atlantic.

Lawrence Tabas, the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s chairman, tells The Atlantic that, while he would prefer a swift vote count, he’s not ruling out the direct appointment of loyal electors.

“I just don’t think this is the right time for me to be discussing those strategies and approaches, but [direct appointment of electors] is one of the options,” he said. “It is one of the available legal options set forth in the Constitution.”

A Trump campaign spokesperson tells The Atlantic that the president wants a free and fair election — but also does not deny the substance of the publication’s reporting.
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« Reply #215 on: Sep 23, 2020, 09:21 AM »


Former federal prosecutor explains how AG Barr could help Trump steal the election — and take the US to ‘a very dark place’

on September 23, 2020
By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Between the coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest in major U.S. cities, huge anti-racism protests, bitter political divisions, a heated Supreme Court battle and President Donald Trump’s ruthless voter suppression efforts, the United States’ 2020 presidential election is turning out to be even more chaotic than the elections of 2000 and 1968. Trump has a devoted loyalist in U.S. Attorney General William Barr, and former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade discusses the effect he could have on the 2020 election in a disturbing op-ed published in the Washington Post on September 22.

“William P. Barr sounds more like a far-right-wing news pundit lately than the nation’s attorney general when he’s discussing politics and the coming election,” McQuade warns. “The difference is that unlike talk show panelists, Barr has the power to do something about it.”

McQuade gets into specific comments from Barr, noting, “He said, ‘These so-called Black Lives Matter people’ are ‘not interested in black lives. They’re interested in props: a small number of blacks who were killed by police during conflict with police, usually less than a dozen a year, who they can use as props to achieve a much broader political agenda.’ He told a journalist that if President Trump is not reelected, then the nation would be ‘irrevocably committed to the socialist path.’ He called coronavirus lockdowns ‘the greatest intrusion on civil liberties other than slavery.’ Later, he lauded the role of politics in prosecution, saying, ‘The most basic check on prosecution is politics.’”

The former U.S. attorney adds that Barr has joined Trump in making the baseless claim that mail-in ballots encourage voter fraud on a grand scale, and she fears that if the presidential election is close, Barr won’t hesitate to intervene or to give Trump an unfair advantage over his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Barr has demonstrated a determination to use his position — and the legal powers of the federal government — to advance the president’s political interests,” McQuade explains. “So, what damage could Barr do in the days and weeks after the election to help Trump stay in office no matter what voters might prefer? First, Barr has the power to file criminal charges of voter fraud. The presidential election is really state elections, but that doesn’t mean the federal government can’t step in.”

A “determined Barr,” McQuade goes on to say, “could use the fraud statute to charge voters, the Democratic Party or even state election officials with a crime” and “could also involve the Justice Department in civil suits challenging election results.”

McQuade notes, “If a candidate or party filed a lawsuit challenging the election results in one or more states, a statement of interest would allow the Justice Department to make arguments that favor Trump’s campaign. Think Bush v. Gore, but with the U.S. government taking sides. That tactic could bring the powerful voice of the Justice Department to the case, potentially influencing the court of law as well as the court of public opinion.”

“The Justice Department has long taken pride in being independent of politics,” McQuade writes. “Barr’s erosion of this tradition could take our country to a very dark place — sooner than we think.”
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« Reply #216 on: Sep 24, 2020, 04:09 AM »

Donald in Blunderland: Trump won't commit to peaceful power transfer at surreal press briefing

David Smith’s sketch: President takes us through the looking glass amid the kneecapping of American democracy

David Smith in Washington
Guardian
Thu 24 Sep 2020 02.38 BST

Jared Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law, told journalist Bob Woodward that one of the best ways to understand Donald Trump is to study Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Kushner paraphrased the Cheshire Cat’s philosophy: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there.”

Wednesday was one of those days when to have a seat in the White House briefing room felts like stepping through the looking-glass into Blunderland, where the mad hatter has an authoritarian streak a mile wide.

Trump careered from touting miracle vaccines to building supreme court suspense, from insulting a female member of the British royal family to abruptly departing for a mysterious “emergency” phone call. But first, there was the small matter of kneecapping American democracy.

Perhaps it was not chance that the president, ever eager to generate media outrage, gave the first question to Brian Karem, who describes himself on Twitter as a “Loud Mouth” senior White House reporter at Playboy. “Will you commit to make sure there’s a peaceful transferral of power after the election?” Karem asked.

All of his 43 predecessors would have said yes, presumably. But Trump replied: “We’re going to have to see what happens, you know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

Karem shot back: “I understand that, but people are rioting. Do you commit to make sure that there’s a peaceful transferral of power?”

Still Trump refused to commit. “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”

Later, Karem remarked on Twitter: “This is the most frightening answer I have ever received to any question I have ever asked. I’ve interviewed convicted killers with more empathy. @realDonaldTrump is advocating Civil War.”

And Julian Castro, who served in Barack Obama’s cabinet, tweeted: “In one day, Trump refused a peaceful transition of power and urged the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice to hand him an election if the results are contested. This is fascism, alive and well in the Republican Party.”

Trump was also questioned about the failure of a grand jury to bring charges against Louisville police for the killing of Breonna Taylor during a drug raid gone wrong.

The president declined to offer his own perspective or comfort for millions aggrieved by another case of racial injustice. Instead he read a statement from Daniel Cameron, the attorney general of Kentucky, a loyal supporter who last month delivered a prime time address at the Republican national convention.

“I think he’s a star,” said Trump, also noting that the governor has called in the National Guard and suggesting that, when in doubt, there’s always the strategy of mindless optimism: “It’ll all work out.”

Another reporter asked about Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, urging people to vote in remarks that some interpreted as supporting Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Trump said: “I’m not a fan of hers - and she has probably heard that – but I wish a lot of luck to Harry because he’s going to need it.”

The attempt at humour hovered awkwardly in the air like a coronavirus particle.

Speaking of which, the president was ruminating on Covid-19 when he called his latest adviser, Scott Atlas, to weigh in from the podium. Trump then told reporters: “I have to leave for an emergency phone call.”

Karem and others demanded to know the nature of the emergency. Trump said only: “I have a big call, a very big call.” Could it be Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin? One wit on Twitter quipped that it was probably just Lou Dobbs of Fox Business.

Atlas has the kind of combative swagger that appeals to Trump. He denied media reports that he has clashed with coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx. He claimed Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, “misstated something” when he told the Senate that 90% of the population remains susceptible to Covid-19.

Jim Acosta of CNN queried: “Americans hear one thing from the CDC Dir & another thing from you, who are we to believe?” Atlas responded: “You’re supposed to believe the science and I’m telling you the science.”

Indeed, earlier Trump had claimed, “Our approach is pro-science. Biden’s approach is anti-science,” – words to remember when he heads to Florida on Thursday for the latest of his packed, nearly mask-free campaign rallies in Wonderland.

*************

I’ve Never Been More Worried About American Democracy Than I Am Right Now

The preemptive attack on the vote count is a five-alarm fire.

By Richard L. Hasen
Slate
9/24/2020

With less than six weeks to go before Election Day, and with over 250 COVID-related election lawsuits filed across 45 states, the litigation strategy of the Trump campaign and its allies has become clear: try to block the expansion of mail-in balloting whenever possible and, in a few key states, create enough chaos in the system and legal and political uncertainty in the results that the Supreme Court, Congress, or Republican legislatures can throw the election to Trump if the outcome is at all close or in doubt. It’s a Hail Mary, but in a close enough election, we cannot count the possibility out. I’ve never been more worried about American democracy than I am right now.

Much of the blizzard of election litigation concerns the casting of ballots by mail, a means of voting that has exploded thanks to COVID-19, and the fears many people have of voting in person during a pandemic. Rules for casting mail-in ballots vary from state to state, and some are onerous during a pandemic, such as a requirement to have an absentee ballot notarized. There are also serious questions about timing; even without all the tumult at the United States Postal Service, some states allow voters to request absentee ballots in the period close to the election, and there is real fear that voters will not get their ballots back in time to elected officials to be counted. Some state and federal courts have responded to these lawsuits by relaxing technical requirements, such as allowing ballots to be counted if they arrive after Election Day so long as they are postmarked by Election Day (or if they arrive shortly after Election Day with no postmark, given that USPS does not always put a postmark—or a legible one—on ballot envelopes).

Trump has made repeated and loud unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in relation to mail-in ballots, even though he and his allies have voted by mail themselves and even as the campaign has begun encouraging more mail-in balloting among his own supporters. The Trump and Republican litigation strategy has been to fight efforts to expand voting by mail: They have opposed expanded use of government drop boxes to return absentee ballots, extension of deadlines for ballot return, and state decisions to proactively send mail-in ballots to all active registered voters. Four states—California, Nevada, New Jersey, and Vermont—are doing so this time, joining the five other states that already conduct their elections almost exclusively by mail. The Trump campaign has through litigation attacked the expansion of mail-in balloting in Nevada, so far unsuccessfully, and Attorney General William Barr has ridiculously claimed that election officials—led by a Republican secretary of state—will somehow “find” 100,000 ballots to help Joe Biden win the state if Trump is in the lead.

The Trump strategy of fighting the expansion of mail-in balloting appears to be twofold. To begin with, the campaign appears to have made the calculation that lower turnout will help the president win reelection. This may explain why Pennsylvania Republicans are planning on going to the U.S. Supreme Court to argue against a state Supreme Court ruling allowing the counting of ballots arriving soon after Election Day without a legible postmark. They argue that doing so unconstitutionally extends Election Day beyond Nov. 3 and takes power away from the Pennsylvania Legislature to choose presidential electors.

The first argument is not a particularly strong one: A decision to accept ballots soon after Election Day without a legible postmark does not extend Election Day as much as it implements how election officials determine if a mailed ballot was timely mailed. It recognizes the reality that many ballots have been arriving without postmarks and uses proximity to the election as a proxy for timely voting. Virginia and Nevada recently adopted similar rules, in light of pandemic-related mail delays. The Trump-allied Honest Elections Project is fighting a consent decree over a similar extension in Minnesota.

The argument about the state Supreme Court’s ruling usurping legislative power to set federal election rules echoes a parallel claim that was made during the disputed election in 2000. The question is whether a state supreme court usurps legislative power when it interprets election rules in line with both state statutes and the state constitution. The argument that a state supreme court applying a state constitution in a voting case usurps legislative power is weak to me, but it was convincing enough for the more conservative members of the Supreme Court that decided Bush v. Gore.

The fighting over things like postmark rules are fights on the edges, the kind of trench warfare that will only matter if the election comes down to hundreds of ballots in a key swing state essential for the Electoral College outcome. But there’s a second play here as well, one that is far more worrisome.

The idea is to throw so much muck into the process and cast so much doubt on who is the actual winner in one of those swing states because of supposed massive voter fraud and uncertainty about the rules for absentee ballots that some other actor besides the voter will decide the winner of the election. That could be the RBG-less Supreme Court resolving a dispute over a group of ballots. Indeed, on Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence suggested that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement needs to be seated, possibly without so much as a hearing, in order to decide “election issues [that] may come before the Supreme Court in the days following the election,” including questions involving “universal unsolicited mail” and states “extending the deadline” for ballot receipt. (Never mind that a 4–4 split on the court on an election issue is unlikely.) It could be a Republican legislature in a state saying it has the right under Article 2 of the Constitution to pick the state’s winner in the face of uncertainty. Bart Gellman in the Atlantic recently quoted a Republican operative imagining these state legislatures saying, “All right, we’ve been given this constitutional power. 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.” And it could be Republicans in the Senate—if they keep their majority—not counting Electoral College votes that were cast for Biden based upon manufactured uncertainty. This would lead to a dispute with the Democratic House and lead to a political struggle over the presidency.

The president has been laying the groundwork for these claims for months, and just Tuesday his son, Donald Trump Jr., baselessly suggested that Democrats will “add millions of fraudulent ballots that can cancel your vote and overturn the election.” (The video remains up on Facebook even though it contains blatant election disinformation. Facebook has added a label to the post, however.)

If we are lucky enough, the election will not be close, and we will avoid this election meltdown only to start panicking again in the run-up to 2024. But if it is close, all bets are off.

We should not think of the litigation and the wild claims of voter fraud as separate from one another. Instead, they are part of a play to grab power if the election is close enough. There are good legal arguments against a power grab, but if another body tries to overturn the will of the people in voting for president, there will be protests in the streets, with the potential for violence.

This is a five-alarm fire, folks. It’s time to wake up

*********

US organization that promotes freedom and democracy around the globe issues warning to America

on September 24, 2020
By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

Freedom House, a U.S government-funded but independent non-profit (NGO) founded in 1941 to promote democracy, advance freedom, and fight fascism around the world on Wednesday found itself facing fascism at home.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was Freedom House’s first co-chair. The organization was “founded on the core conviction that freedom flourishes in democratic nations where governments are accountable to their people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms of expression, association, and belief, as well as respect for the rights of women, minorities and historically marginalized groups, are guaranteed.”

On Wednesday President Donald Trump refused to commit to the peaceful transition of power, saying, “get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very trans- — we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly; there’ll be a continuation.”

Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power – never before in question since the Declaration of Independence was signed 244 years ago – was by default a threat of violence, as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said.

    This is obvious, but still worth saying: declining to commit to a “peaceful transfer of power” is itself a threat of violence.

    — Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) September 23, 2020

Wednesday evening Freedom House issued what amounts to a warning – to its fellow Americans.

“A key tenet of democracy is that politicians respect the electoral process and the will of the people,” Freedom House said via Twitter. “There is nothing more anti-democratic than a leader who refuses to concede defeat.”

    A key tenet of democracy is that politicians respect the electoral process and the will of the people. There is nothing more anti-democratic than a leader who refuses to concede defeat.https://t.co/YPvwoHRpvx

    — Freedom House (@freedomhouse) September 23, 2020

**********

‘Five-alarm fire’: MSNBC’s Morning Joe explains why Trump is rushing to smash democracy

on September 24, 2020
By Travis Gettys
Raw Story

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough sounded the alarm that President Donald Trump had no intention of giving up the White House.

The president has admitted that he wants to ram through a new Supreme Court justice to help decide the election in his favor, and the “Morning Joe” host was shocked — yet not surprised — that Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

“Some remarkable things that, actually, could be both shocking and not surprising at the same time considering that they come from Donald Trump,” Scarborough said.

“For the first time in the history of this republic, you have a president of the United States, who will not commit to a peaceful transfer of power,” he added. “At the same time he’s asking Republicans to lie to their constituents and go back on what they said four years ago and ram through a Supreme Court justice. Why? Because he needs that Supreme Court justice to vote for him on any election disputes that he stirs up. That is pretty much a five-alarm fire.”

The president has been actively undermining confidence in mail-in ballots, which even Republicans say are legitimate, and Scarborough said Trump’s attacks on the election reveal his lack of confidence in himself.

“The subtext of this, every morning we sit around and look at polls and talk about who’s going to win,” Scarborough said. “Donald Trump is telling us who’s going to win. He’s telling us he can’t beat Joe Biden. He’s telling us that he’s going to have to try to overturn the results of this democratic election, because he knows he’s going to lose.”

Watch: https://youtu.be/GXajUkO8rA0
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« Reply #217 on: Sep 24, 2020, 04:10 AM »

'This is a transition like no other': Biden team prepared for all possibilities

The Democrat’s large transition team is aiming to raise millions and include ‘diversity of ideology’ at an uncertain time

Daniel Strauss in Washington
Guardian
9/24/2020

Joe Biden’s transition team is operating under multiple threats, apart from the obvious one that their candidate might be defeated.

In this year’s presidential election, there’s the looming possibility that an outcome won’t be clear for weeks after election day. There’s also the chance that if Biden wins by a close margin Donald Trump will refuse to leave office. And, of course, there’s the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, the team charged with setting up a beachhead for the former vice-president, and preparing a Biden administration – should he win the White House – is operating very differently from past transition teams.

“We are preparing for this transition amid the backdrop of a global health crisis and struggling economy,” former Delaware senator Ted Kaufman, the co-chair of the Biden transition team, said in a statement to the Guardian. “This is a transition like no other, and the team being assembled will help Joe Biden meet the urgent challenges facing our country on day one.”

The transition team has set a goal of raising between $7m and $10m, according to Politico. That’s a budget eclipsing past transition teams. The Biden transition organization is also reportedly planning to build a staff of as many as 350 people by the time of any inauguration.

The leadership of the transition team suggests the Biden campaign is eager to include differing viewpoints as it builds the runway for a new government to land in the White House. At the same time, the inclusion of champions of often opposing wings of the Democratic party will open up the transition team to criticism from various activists and interest groups.

Looming over the whole process is the uncertainty of the outcome of the election and, in the case of Trump losing, if he will bow out immediately or allow for a fraught period where he refuses to hand over power. There have been past transitions where tensions from the campaign spilled over, including through petty forms of expression like the W missing from the keyboards when George W Bush entered the White House after Bill Clinton.

There are multiple experts and working groups gaming out various election scenarios as a sort of guidepost in case the election result is not clear on election night, or if some other major irregularity happens. Still, veterans aren’t quite sure if Trump, who has said the only way he could lose this election is through cheating, will allow a peaceful transference of power.

“I think everyone is hopeful that the spirits of the previous transitions will be maintained,” Leavitt said.

Much of the Biden transition team’s work has been behind the scenes, and likewise for the Trump transition operation for moving from a first term to a second term. Chris Liddell, a White House deputy chief of staff, is taking point for that effort, according to an operative close to that transition team.

For the Biden campaign, though, if all goes well with the campaign their candidate will be inheriting a country undergoing major unrest over race relations, as well as suffering from a virus with no cure and a sputtering economy.

“If we win the White House in November, a new administration will have considerable work to do to rebuild the federal government,” a fundraising pitch for the transition team sent out by Swati Mylavarapu, a Democratic fundraiser. The email was obtained by the Guardian.

Like other workforces across America, the Biden transition team has also had to work remotely. The General Services Administration office space the team would normally be using as part of routine transition preparations has not been in heavy use.

Beyond all that, the Biden transition team also has to consider intra-party tensions between various wings of the Democratic party.

The transition team is prioritizing “diversity of ideology” and has stacked its leadership and with progressives and more establishment academics and former bureaucrats. That includes advisers of progressive lawmakers such as Gautam Raghavan, Washington congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s former chief of staff; Felicia Wong, the chief executive and president of the liberal Roosevelt Institute; and Julie Siegel, a former staffer for Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren.

The transition team’s advisory board even includes a Republican in former veterans affairs secretary Bob McDonald. There are also more centrist figures spanning the transition team, such as Jeffrey Zients, a former Obama administration adviser and economist with longtime ties to the business and finance community. Avril Haines, a former Obama administration deputy national security adviser who has done work for the data mining company Palantir, is also among the senior staff leadership for the Biden transition team.

Palantir and its founder, Peter Thiel, have been met with criticism by liberals for ties to the Trump administration and work with law enforcement agencies.

Beyond the declared staff, other veterans of presidential committees and past transitions have been involved. Eric Holder, the former attorney general who served on Barack Obama’s vice-presidential selection committee, has offered advice, according to multiple people with ties to the transition team. Mike Leavitt, the former governor of Utah, has also relayed some help through an organization that follows presidential transitions.
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« Reply #218 on: Sep 25, 2020, 08:58 AM »


‘Bananas’ DOJ press release on discarded ballots viewed as effort to fuel Trump’s lies about mail-in fraud

on September 25, 2020
By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday published, abruptly removed, then re-posted a revised version of what was described as a highly unusual press release announcing an inquiry into nine “discarded” military ballots in Pennsylvania, seven of which were purportedly cast for President Donald Trump.

Observers were immediately suspicious of the Justice Department’s statement given President Donald Trump’s ongoing assault on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, which he has described as a “scam” and falsely claimed are uniquely susceptible to fraud. Attorney General William Barr has also baselessly attacked voting by mail in recent weeks.

“This statement by a U.S. Attorney is bananas. It talks about an ongoing investigation, and it reveals the candidates named on ballots. I’m still processing all of the levels on which this is wildly inappropriate.”
—Walter Shaub

On Thursday afternoon, the DOJ issued a press release attributed to David Freed, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, claiming that “FBI personnel working together with the Pennsylvania State Police” recovered nine military ballots and said all of the “discarded” ballots were cast for Trump.

Shortly after the initial statement went viral on Twitter and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany touted the announcement, the Justice Department deleted the original release and posted an edited version that claims seven of the nine discarded ballots were cast for Trump and “two of the discarded ballots had been resealed inside their appropriate envelopes,” leaving their contents unknown.

“This statement by a U.S. Attorney is bananas,” tweeted Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics. “It talks about an ongoing investigation, and it reveals the candidates named on ballots. I’m still processing all of the levels on which this is wildly inappropriate.”

In addition to the statement on the probe, the Justice Department also publicized a letter Freed sent to the director of elections in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania offering further specific details of the investigation, which Freed said was launched at the request of Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, a Republican. Trump won the Pennsylvania county by nearly 20 points in 2016.

David Levine, elections integrity fellow at the watchdog group Alliance for Security Democracy, said the DOJ’s decision to make public statements—one of which contained false information—about an incomplete investigation so close to the election “is risky at best and dangerous at worst.”

As NBC News reported late Thursday, “Both statements were highly unusual as U.S. Attorneys typically do not publicly announce they’ve opened an inquiry. The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to give further comment about the probe, except to say the general election ballots were improperly opened by county staff.”

    DOJ political gamery..DOJ doesn’t announce this kind of investigation. It certainly doesn’t announce whom ballots were cast for, since that should be immaterial in a voting rts investigation. And then the revision that this is over 7 (not 9) ballots that didn’t alter outcome? 🤔 https://t.co/IHTNyM5QYk

    — Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) September 25, 2020

Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, said the Justice Department’s decision to release the statement “sure looks like an effort to feed a bogus narrative about ballot fraud.” The press release came on the same day FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the Senate that he has seen no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

“This seems like a hugely important story,” said Sanchez. “Not because nine ballots got thrown out, almost certainly by accident, but because it suggests DOJ is now an active participant in Trump’s effort to undermine the integrity of the presidential election.”

Speaking to reporters Thursday before departing to Charlotte, North Carolina, Trump said that “they found, I understand, eight ballots in a waste paper basket in some location”—an apparent reference to the Pennsylvania story.

“And they found—it was reported in one of the newspapers that they found a lot of ballots in a river,” Trump said, without offering any specifics on the story. “They throw them out if they have the name ‘Trump’ on it, I guess.”

When a reporter responded that the ballots supposedly found in a river “had no names on them,” Trump said, “Okay, well, they still found them in a river, whether they had a name on it or not.”

    TRUMP: The ballots — that’s a whole big scam. They found 8 ballots in a waste basket, others in a river. They throw ’em out if they have the name Trump on them.

    REPORTER: There were no names on them

    TRUMP: Well, they still found them in a river. pic.twitter.com/SdYehARk5k

    — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 24, 2020

The president went on to suggest once again that he may not accept the results of the November election, claiming he is “not sure” the contest can be “honest”—remarks that came just 24 hours after Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses to Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

“Take him literally and seriously,” New York Times contributor Wajahat Ali tweeted in response to the president’s comments. “He has literally told you how he will cheat and contest the election if he loses.”
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« Reply #219 on: Sep 25, 2020, 12:35 PM »

In ‘unprecedented’ move, Bill Barr ‘personally briefed’ Trump about discarded Pennsylvania ballots

on September 25, 2020
Raw Story
By Sky Palma

Speaking to ABC News this Friday, a Justice Department official said Attorney General William Barr “personally briefed” President Trump on the Department’s investigation into a small number of ballots in Pennsylvania that were discarded. Trump then took to Fox News Radio to claim the discovery was confirmation of his unsubstantiated claims of fraud within the mail-in voting process.

“They were Trump ballots — eight ballots in an office yesterday in — but in a certain state and they were — they had Trump written on it, and they were thrown in a garbage can. This is what’s going to happen,” Trump said. “This is what’s going to happen, and we’re investigating that.”

But as ABC News points out, a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania made no mention of fraud, saying it “began an inquiry into reports of potential issues with a small number of mail-in ballots at the Luzerne County Board of Elections,” and discovered the ballots — which were cast for Trump — in a dumpster.

“Our investigation has revealed that all or nearly all envelopes received in the elections office were opened as a matter of course,” U.S. attorney David Freed said. “It was explained to investigators the envelopes used for official overseas, military, absentee and mail-in ballot requests are so similar, that the staff believed that adhering to the protocol of preserving envelopes unopened would cause them to miss such ballot requests.”

Critics of the Trump administration say the White House is using the discarded ballots to boost Trump politically.

“This is an ongoing investigation where there is no public interest reason to override the usual policy of not commenting — and especially not to say for whom the ballots were cast. An unprecedented in kind contribution to the president’s campaign,” Matthew Miller, the former director of the Justice Department’s public affairs office, said on Twitter.

Read the full report: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/barr-briefed-trump-investigation-discarded-pennsylvania-ballots/story?id=73244344

************


‘The attorney general is a threat’: Legal experts are freaking out over Barr’s actions to help Trump win

on September 25, 2020
By Travis Gettys
Raw Story

Legal experts are increasingly alarmed by Attorney General William Barr’s efforts to help President Donald Trump win re-election.

The attorney general has joined the president in attacking voting integrity and civil rights demonstrators, and he has described his role in the election in explicitly religious terms that show Barr believes he represents “moral discipline and virtue” against “individual rapacity,” reported The Guardian.

“His abuses have only escalated as we have gotten closer and closer to the election, and as the president has felt more and more politically vulnerable,” said Donald Sherman, deputy director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “I can’t put it more plainly than this: The attorney general is a threat to American citizens having free and fair access to the vote, and is a threat to American having their votes counted.”

Barr has recently asked federal prosecutors to consider charging protesters with sedition and designated New York City, Portland and Seattle as “anarchy” zones, which helps Trump whip up hysteria about public safety.

“I think this attorney general is demonstrably more committed to the political success of the president, and the president’s political agenda than any attorney general in history I can think of,” said Neil Kinkopf, a Georgia State law professor who worked in the Office of Legal Counsel under Bill Clinton.

Kinkopf testified against Barr during his 2019 confirmation hearing, when he warned senators the deeply conservative Washington veteran believed in giving the chief executive “breathtaking” powers.

“When I testified against him, I recognized how dangerous the unitary executive theory is,” Kinkopf said. “But what I didn’t appreciate, and I don’t think anybody appreciated, was just how fully he would deploy that theory in advance not of rule-of law values, but in order to advance both the president’s political agenda, and I think more deeply for Barr, his own social and religious commitments.”

The attorney general has accused Black Lives Matter protesters of fomenting chaos as part of a socialist revolution, and he has described himself as a bulwark in a battle between good and evil.

“The attorney general sees himself clearly as fighting culture wars that are to him moral and religious,” Kinkopf said, “and those are deeper, I think, commitments for him than the commitment to federalism, and so to the extent that the balance of federal and state power gets in the way of achieving what he wants to achieve in the culture wars, he’s willing to cast that aside.

“So if there weren’t a culture war angle on it, I think he would take the position that states and local governments should be left to police their own communities, and the federal government should keep its nose out,” Kinkopf added. “But because he sees something at stake in the current protests that jeopardizes what he feels as being the proper order of society, he’s not troubled about using federal power to pursue what he views as being the right results.”

Read this: The Fanatic Bill Barr is convinced that the country is betraying its founding—and that it’s up to him to stop it.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/09/bill-barr-founders/616445/
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« Reply #220 on: Sep 25, 2020, 12:38 PM »


Wall Street is betting big that Biden will beat Trump: CNN

September 25, 2020
Raw Story
By Tom Boggioni

With November’s election less than 40 days away, CNN is reporting Wall Street executives and investors are reading the writing on the wall and flooding the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with cash at five times the rate Donald Trump is getting contributions.

Noting that in 2016 former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also outraised Trump to the tune of $88 million to Trump’s $20.8 million, CNN reports the disparity in the percentage of donations split between the two major-party candidates ($51.1 million to Biden and $10.5 million to Trump’s presidential campaign) has grown this time — which is not good news for an incumbent who already handed the ultra-rich a substantial tax decrease.

According to the report a possible contributing factor in the race for campaign contributions from investors is the fact that many of them reside in the Democratic strongholds of New York City, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco — all of which have come under attack by Trump.

According to Ed Mills, policy analyst at Raymond James, “The bigger deal is where you live versus where you work. It’s as simple as that.”

The flood of cash to Biden is all the more surprising in that investors are wary of another “Blue wave” election like the one in 2018 that led to a Democratic takeover of the House and a narrowing of the difference between Democratic and Republican seats in the Senate.

Despite reports that Biden is likely to increase corporate taxes should he win, CNN reports investment banks still prefer the former vice president to the volatile Trump.

“For instance, Biden has raised $156,584 from individuals at Goldman Sachs, according to OpenSecrets. With just $11,943 in contributions, Trump ranks a staggering 45th among federal campaign recipients — well behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, US Senator Lindsey Graham, Graham’s opponent Jaime Harrison and Andrew Yang, a CNN political commentator who has called for universal basic income,” the report states, adding, “At Citigroup, Trump has been outraised by Biden as well as Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Yang, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and US Senator Doug Jones.”

“It’s not just Wall Street that is snubbing Trump,” the CNN report continues. “The broader sector encompassing finance, insurance and real estate also tilts heavily blue, sending $86.7 million to Biden and outside groups that support the Democrat. By contrast, Trump has received only $50.4 million from the finance sector. Trump is even narrowly trailing Biden in fundraising from real estate, the industry where he made a name for himself on the national stage. Biden and outside groups aligned with him have raised $19.8 million from real estate, compared with $16.7 million for Trump.”

You can read more here: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/25/business/trump-biden-wall-street-campaign-donations/index.html
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« Reply #221 on: Sep 25, 2020, 03:44 PM »

REALITY ........

The 9 discarded ballots were tossed because Republicans won their lawsuit requiring them to not be counted: report

Raw Story
9/25/2020
By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

President Donald J. Trump listens as Attorney General William Barr delivers remarks at a Medal of Valor and Heroic Commendations Ceremony Monday, Sep. 9, 2019, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Major news is coming in over the “case” of the nine “discarded” ballots from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania that President Donald Trump revealed to Fox News Radio on Thursday.

Here’s what appears to have happened, and we’re going to bullet point this so it’s easy to follow.

    The ballots were discarded by a temporary, or “contract” worker assigned to sort the mail who appears to have been following direction.
    They ballots were military ballots, not absentee or other by-mail ballots.
    The county immediately reported what happened to federal officials, who appear to have immediately politicized the issue.
    “Because these ballots were returned in envelopes similar to absentee ballot requests, elections officials opened them,” The Washington Post reports. “If the ballots weren’t then enclosed in another envelope which shielded the actual vote being cast, they may have been considered ‘naked ballots,’ a term used to describe mail ballots returned without the voter’s intent being protected.
    The Trump campaign and the Pennsylvania GOP in a lawsuit argued that “naked ballots” should not be counted. They won that lawsuit. These nine ballots appear to be “naked ballots,” and that appears to be the reason they were thrown out.

Here’s how MSNBC’s Chris Hayes sums it up: It’s the GOP’s fault.

    TL:DR the discarded Trump ballots were discarded because…Trump and GOP lawyers won a lawsuit requiring them to not be counted!!! https://t.co/NE5s90GJDq

    — Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) September 25, 2020

More.

    The contract worker has been told to not return.
    Buzzfeed adds it appears the DOJ violated its own policy by issuing a press release about the “discarded” ballots, and even worse, suggesting this is a case of election fraud, and even worse than that, suggesting one candidate over another was favored.
    MSNBC adds that county officials were not aware of who the ballots were for until the DOJ’s press release was issued.
    Attorney General Bill Barr personally briefed President Trump about the discarded ballots. Trump and his White House press secretary then politicized the event.
    The county elections supervisor was exceedingly thorough. “Garbage from the Elections Bureau from September 14 through September 16, the time the independent contractor was on County property, was put in a dumpster and secured by County staff,” a local Pennsylvania news report states. “The trash was then searched by the FBI, the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, the Pennsylvania State Police and county staff. All contents relating to the matter were taken by the FBI.”
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« Reply #222 on: Sep 26, 2020, 04:17 AM »

Trump tells supporters he won’t be ‘stupid’ enough for peaceful transition of power if he loses

Raw Story
9/26/2020

President Donald Trump continued to spread debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election during a Friday night campaign rally in Virginia.

Trump argued that it was impossible for him to lose the election, thus concluding he would be “stupid” to hand over power peacefully should he lose.

“We not gonna lose this, except if they cheat,” Trump falsely claimed about the 2020 campaign, where he trails Joe Biden in national and battleground polling.

“That’s the only way we’re gonna lose is if there’s, uh, mischief,” he argued. “And it will have to be on a big scale.”

“And we do want a very friendly transition, but we don’t want to be cheated and be stupid and say, ‘oh, let’s transit — we’ll go and we’ll do a transition’ and we know that there were thousands and thousands of ballots that made the difference through cheating,” he said, repeating the debunked conspiracy theories.

“We’re not going to stand for it,” he vowed. “We’re not going to stand for it.”

Here’s how CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale described it:

    Trump just now in summary:
    – The only way we can lose is if they cheat
    – If they cheat, we're not going to have a friendly transition

    — Daniel Dale (@ddale8) September 26, 2020

    "We're not gonna lose this, expect if they cheat … that's the only way we're gonna lose" — Trump pic.twitter.com/RING2wOctz

    — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 26, 2020
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« Reply #223 on: Sep 27, 2020, 05:03 AM »


Recipe for chaos: 2020 election threatens to snap a US already pushed to the limit

The November election will be plagued by voter suppression, foreign interference, disinformation and a contested supreme court vacancy

David Smith in Washington
Guardian
Sun 27 Sep 2020 08.00 BST

It has been dubbed “the election that could break America”. On 3 November voters decide whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden is their next president. But this time the stakes are even higher than the simple question of who resides in the White House.

There is a widespread sense that the fate of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy hangs in the balance. The US has already been shaken in 2020 by the deadly coronavirus pandemic, economic collapse and a society-wide reckoning over racism. Now comes an election in which voter suppression, foreign interference, online disinformation and a bitterly contested supreme court vacancy offer a recipe for chaos.

Most threatening of all is an incumbent president who has spent months spreading disinformation and discrediting what he calls “the greatest Rigged Election in history”. Asked this week if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power, he declined, saying: “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster.”

Should Trump refuse to leave office, America could be plunged into a constitutional crisis and find itself in unchartered territory. Whatever the outcome, there is a high risk that a significant chunk of the population will not accept the winner as legitimate, leading to angry street protests in a country flush with guns and a fear that, after decades of corrosion, a system that was once the envy of the world is beyond repair.

“I never dreamed I would live through our democracy being this volatile and vulnerable and fragile,” said Moe Vela, a political strategist and LGBTQ and Latino activist. “I never dreamed it could ever happen. It was not in the realm of possibility and Donald Trump has taken us to the brink of the demise of our democracy. It really is that serious.”

Mail-in voting and voter suppression

The election is taking place amid America’s worst public health crisis for a century. A record number of voters are expected to use mail-in ballots so they can avoid the health risks of queuing to vote in person on 3 November. Five states – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah – already carry out elections almost entirely by mail.

But the US is a patchwork of different rules and practices and other states are scrambling to prepare. Louis DeJoy, the new postmaster general and a Republican donor, has overseen measures that make voting by mail harder rather than easier, including the removal of post boxes from streets and mothballing of sorting machines. After an outcry, DeJoy said he would suspend cuts until after the election, but it may be too late to reverse the damage.

Trump has been transparent about his motives. He said he was withholding funding from the postal service as a way of limiting voting by mail, arguing that it is prone to fraud, a claim that has been thoroughly debunked.

    We’re already seeing robo calls going out in places like Pennsylvania that dissuade people from voting early
    Neil Sroka

But attacks on mail-in voting is the only the most egregious example of voter suppression, a tactic as old as American democracy itself that disproportionately affects people of color – statistically far more likely to vote Democratic.

For example, in Florida, a critical swing state, voters decided in 2018 to re-enfranchise 1.4m people who had lost the right to vote because they had criminal convictions. But Republicans have effectively neutralized that move, meaning that more than 700,000 people are likely to be denied the vote in November.

Neil Sroka, spokesperson for the progressive group Democracy for America, said: “Donald Trump has his fingers on the levers of power and is clearly manoeuvring them in every way possible, legal and arguably illegal, to try to secure a narrow victory in November.”

“The threat of voter suppression is very real. We’re already seeing robo calls going out in places like Pennsylvania that dissuade people from voting early or voting absentee or putting out misinformation.”
The ‘red mirage’

Opinion polls show that Democrats are far more likely to use mail-in voting, whereas Republicans tend to favor queuing up on election day. The battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all prohibit election officials from beginning to process mail-in votes until election day. Thus Republicans votes are likely to be counted first, leading to warnings of an election night “red mirage” in which Trump appears to build big early leads.

    It will look like Donald Trump was in the lead and he fundamentally was not when every ballot gets counted.
    Josh Mendelsohn

It is feared that the president will seize that initial narrative and declare a premature victory and then, if mail-in ballots gradually turn the tide and produce a Biden victory days later, claim that the election is being stolen from him.

Josh Mendelsohn, chief executive of Hawkfish, a Democratic data and analytics firm, told the Axios on HBO programme: “We are sounding an alarm and saying that this is a very real possibility, that the data is going to show on election night an incredible victory for Donald Trump.”

“When every legitimate vote is tallied and we get to that final day, which will be some day after election day, it will in fact show that what happened on election night was exactly that, a mirage. It looked like Donald Trump was in the lead and he fundamentally was not when every ballot gets counted.”
Voters line up to vote during in-person early voting in Fairfax, Virginia on 18 September 2020.

The long wait for a result could allow Trump to make mischief and flood social media with conspiracy theories. Bill Galston, a former policy adviser to Bill Clinton, said: “What worries me most is that the president of the United States will decide, through reasons of his own, to impugn ballots that are not counted on election night.”

“Given the fact a record number of ballots will be cast by mail in this election, and there appears to be a systemic difference with Democrats voting much more by mail than in-person, impugning the validity of mail-in ballots would be the moral equivalent of saying that only only votes cast in person are valid, which is a prescription for electoral fraud on a massive basis such as we’ve never seen in this country. If you ask me what my worst nightmare is, that’s it.”

There are even concerns that Trump and his conspicuously loyal attorney general, William Barr, could seek to disqualify mail-in votes. John Heilemann, a political analyst, told the MSNBC network: “Don’t rule out of your mind the possibility that the president on election night says, ‘I’m going to go to Pennsylvania and I’m impounding all of the uncounted ballots so far,’ and sends federal marshals into polling places where votes are being tabulated and tries to impound those ballots.”

Facebook has promised to label any posts by candidates or campaigns claiming victory, pointing out that official results are not yet in. The scenario also puts tremendous pressure on the media to avoid jumping the gun, as some did on the night of the 2000 election between George W Bush and Al Gore.
Foreign interference

Intelligence agencies agree Russia attacked American democracy in 2016 with the intention of sowing discord, helping Trump and hurting Hillary Clinton. Last month the National Counterintelligence and Security Center warned that Russia is again trying to “denigrate” Biden, while China and Iran are also seeking to meddle.

Although Trump’s administration has sanctioned senior Russian officials, the president himself has never indicated that he takes the threat seriously. Instead he has repeatedly denounced the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller into his campaign’s numerous contacts with Russia as “a hoax”.

In 2016 the Russian focus was hacking and social media disinformation. This time Max Bergmann, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress thinktank in Washington, said his biggest concern this time is an attack on infrastructure.

“The threat level has to be blinking red,” he said. “We know from the Trump administration intelligence community that Russia is interfering in this election. We know that from briefings that have occurred over the past year.

“One of the things that we’ve actually learned a lot about in the last year is the threat from Russian cyber actors against the actual physical infrastructure of the election system, the voting machines, the voter databases. Coronavirus only makes it more of a threat because, depending on how the system is set up, you may have shrunk the number of polling places and reduced the number of poll workers, forcing people to vote in smaller and fewer precincts.”

Bergmann offered an example: “The University of Georgia says we’re going to close down our precinct; then you’re going to send all the students to another precinct; if you’re the Russians and you see this, that’s a precinct where you’re trying to help Trump win and you can basically cause chaos on election day by making it so that everyone with an ‘R’ in their name shows up and their name is misspelled on the voting rolls, causing huge lines.”

Supreme court vacancy. minority rule and loss of faith in democracy

The recent death of supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg threw a match into the electoral tinderbox. A furious political battle is under way on Capitol Hill, with Trump set to replace the liberal Ginsburg with a conservative before election day.

In the short term, there is an outside chance that the new justice could play a critical role in the outcome of the election. The close contest between Bush and Gore in 2000 was resolved in Bush’s favor by the supreme court voting 5-4 along ideological lines. If the 2020 election is similarly disputed, the court could again be the final arbiter.

The haste to replace Ginsburg has also fueled a deeper sense of democratic deficit, a growing chasm between rightwing white minority rule and the values of the diverse majority. Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3m ballots, and his latest supreme court appointment will mean that a majority of the justices were nominated by a president who did not initially win the popular vote.

In addition, the Republican Senate “majority” represents about 15m fewer people than the Democratic “minority” because states have two senators each, irrespective of population size. So Montana, which has a population of 1m, has the same representation as California, population 40m.

The upshot could be a supreme court with a 6-3 conservative majority stripping reproductive rights from women despite surveys showing that seven in 10 people oppose overturning the landmark 1973 ruling Roe v Wade. Healthcare access, voting rights and environmental protections are also at stake. This could lead to profound disillusionment and civil unrest.

Sroka of Democracy for America said: “It is probably the most significant threat to American democracy in generations because what essentially you are saying is, ‘The will of the voters be damned, we as a conservative minority in this country have the power to dictate the interpretation of laws and the appointment of judges and so we’re going to do it, damn the consequences’.”

He added: “We’ve been teetering along the road towards everyone slowly realizing that there needs to be mammoth systemic reforms in our politics. The decision to defy the will of the voters and force a rightwing justice on this court strikes me as the straw that would break the camel’s back in terms of people’s willingness to accept what is increasingly anti-democratic agenda in this country.”

    What we know about Donald Trump is that he hasn’t done anything in his life without cheating.
    Rashad Robinson

The nightmare scenario: Trump refuses to leave office

Unlike his predecessors, Trump has repeatedly declined to commit to accepting the election outcome, while also “joking” about seeking a third term even though the constitution forbids it. He has claimed: “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” Observers predict that he will use every advantage of incumbency to cling to power.

Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, a racial justice organization, said: “What he does have on his side is that he controls the federal infrastructure and so the question will be, does he use that federal infrastructure to cheat? And what we know about Donald Trump is that he hasn’t done anything in his life without cheating.”

The dispute would play out in Congress, the courts and the streets. Republicans have built a $20m war chest to spend on what could be a prolonged legal fight; the Biden campaign has also built a massive legal team including Eric Holder, the former attorney general.

Both sides are aware of constitutional loopholes ripe for exploitation. An 1887 law, supposed to show how to resolve a disputed vote, is disturbingly ambiguous. The vagaries of the electoral college could also come into play.

On 14 December, votes in the electoral college are due to be cast by “electors”, groups of state party leaders and elected officials. Normally, these reflect the popular vote in the state. But this week the Atlantic magazine reported that the Trump campaign is plotting to enlist Republican-controlled state governments to handpick its own local electors to override the popular vote in battleground states.

“The state legislatures will say, ‘All right, we’ve been given this constitutional power,’” a Trump campaign legal adviser told the Atlantic. “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.”

    The victory needs to be so resounding that it’s a message that cannot be interpreted in any other way.
    Moe Vela

Mass demonstrations would surely follow. Progressive groups such as Stand Up America have been preparing to mobilize huge street protests to defend the valid election result. But Trump has shown his willingness this summer to use the power of the state to crush peaceful demonstrations, while his own supporters have brandished and, on occasion, used weapons. Extremists and militias from the far left and far right could stoke violence.

Ultimately, there is no playbook for what happens when a president refuses to leave office. If both Trump and Biden arrived at the US Capitol on inauguration day, expecting to be sworn in, the independence of the military and secret service would be tested as never before.

Biden has said he is “absolutely convinced” that the military would escort Trump from the Oval Office if it comes to that – a concept that seems to belong to tinpot dictatorships and is scarcely believable the United States.

After the cascading miseries of 2020, the election can seem like a runaway train hurtling towards a cliff edge. Many Democrats suggest the only way to stave off disaster is ensure that Biden wins by a landslide so that not even Trump loyalists can genuinely dispute the outcome.

Vela, the strategist who is a former senior adviser to Biden at the White House, said: “The victory needs to be so resounding that it’s a message that cannot be interpreted in any other way. The stronger the outcome is in favor of Joe Biden, the less chance that Trump will have to make his argument. But I do fear he will go down kicking and screaming.”
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« Reply #224 on: Sep 28, 2020, 04:50 AM »

‘Terrifying’: CNN host panics after realizing Trump can ‘stay in office without actually winning the vote’

on September 27, 2020
Raw Story
By David Edwards

CNN host Fareed Zakaria expressed alarm on Sunday over President Donald Trump’s ability to “stay in office without actually winning the vote.”

“By declining to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, President Trump has agitated many who fear he will refuse to leave office even if he loses the November election and may even resort to violence,” Zakaria said on his CNN program. “But the terrifying reality is that there are also mechanisms that are legal and constitutional that could enable Trump to stay in office without actually winning the vote.”

The CNN host went on to explain that the U.S. electoral system “was not designed to be democratic,” allowing states to choose any set of electors regardless of the popular vote.

“Imagine the scenario during election week, Trump is leading on November 3, but Joe Biden pulls ahead in the days following, Republicans file objections to tens of thousands of mail-in ballots, Democrats file counter-suits,” the CNN remarked, painting a nightmare scenario. “Taking account of the confusion, legislators decide to choose electors themselves.”

According to Zakaria, up to nine swings states with Republican legislatures could override the will of the people and designate Republican electors who would hand the win to Trump.

“So, the outcome would be to re-elect Donald Trump,” he continued. “Trump doesn’t need to do anything other than to simply accept this outcome, which is constitutional.”

“Since 1992, the Republican presidential candidate has won the popular vote only one time,” Zakaria observed. “Nevertheless, Republicans have held the White House for almost half of those 28 years.”

He added: “America prides itself as the world’s leading Democracy. And yet, because of a vague and creaky constitutional process and ferocious partisanship, this November, we might put on a display of democratic disfunction that would rival any banana republic on the planet.”

Watch: https://youtu.be/-1L5MtI4yaw

***********

Former Army prosecutor explains why Trump will ‘get laughed out of court’ if he tries to steal the election

Raw Story
9/28/2020

Democrats are still panicking about the plots that President Donald Trump and the Republican Party seem to be cooking up to circumvent the people’s vote in November.

Last week’s shocking piece in The Atlantic detailed how electors in Pennsylvania could be manipulated to deliver Trump the vote despite ballots to the contrary. After President George W. Bush’s campaign convincing the Supreme Court to stop Florida from counting the 2000 election ballots, there is a fear that Trump too could manipulate the courts to get his Supreme Court justices to deliver him a win.

Former Army prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner released a video Sunday explaining that there’s no chance Trump will be successful.

He said that voters still have to get out “in numbers too big to rig — in numbers too real to steal,” but if things go well for Democrats, Trump will likely launch lawsuits in critical parts of battleground states to try and save himself.

“Donald Trump is going to get laughed out of court,” said Kirschner. “How can I say that? Well, I tried to count out how many judges I appeared before in my 30 years as a prosecutor. It’s probably around 200, give or take. And those are both military judges in military trials and military appellate courts. Those are civilian judges in civilian trial courts and in appellate courts… I’ve been in front of a lot of judges. I’ve argued a lot of cases. And what I can tell you is a litigant can’t walk into court with unclean hands. A litigant can’t create a problem and then walk into court and say, ‘I am a victim of the problem I created! And judge I demand relief.'”

He went on to explain the “clean hands doctrine” or the “doctrine of wrongdoing” which he says will ultimately be Trump’s undoing.

Watch: https://youtu.be/LHLrQZ2zfMs

***********

Federal judge halts Trump administration trying to tamper with New Jersey ballot mail delivery

Raw Story
9/28/2020

President Donald Trump’s administration too the state of New Jersey to court trying to stop the state from mailing ballots to voters in the state. But the federal judge in the case put an end to Trump’s attempts to stop voting by mail.

A federal judge just issued an order in our case halting the Trump Administration’s efforts to interfere with mail delivery in advance of the election. We WILL have a free and fair election,” tweeted Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on Sunday.

    BREAKING: A federal judge just issued an order in our case halting the Trump Administration's efforts to interfere with mail delivery in advance of the election. We WILL have a free and fair election. pic.twitter.com/DdWUqcDYzD

    — AG Gurbir Grewal (@NewJerseyOAG) September 27, 2020

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order in August that would make the 2020 election primarily a vote-by-mail election similar to their July primary amid the pandemic. There will still be about 50 percent of polling locations open on Election Day for people who can’t get ballots by mail for whever reason.
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