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In Georgia Runoff, Republicans Attack Absentee Voting, Again

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Absentee voting worked well for Republicans for years. Then Democrats won one election through heavy absentee voting, and now Republicans are trying to crack down on that. The effort is most pressing in Georgia, thanks to the two Senate runoff elections there on January 5, 2021, and Georgia Republicans are all in.

More than 378,000 Georgia voters have already sent in their absentee votes, and another 846,000 ballots have been mailed out but not yet returned. But Republicans are in court trying to make it easier to toss out ballots over signature matching questions and trying to end the use of drop boxes for turning in absentee ballots.

"Let me be clear: Before an absentee ballot is ever cast, a signature match is confirmed twice," Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has explained, referring to the signature matching when an absentee ballot application is received and when the ballot itself is received. "Not once, twice. As in the signature is matched twice. I don't know how much clearer I can make that for everyone to understand."

However, Republicans are targeting the fact that under current signature-matching procedures, two of three election officials inspecting an envelope have to say that a signature doesn't match the one on file before it will be rejected. Instead, they want to reject ballots based on the say-so of one out of three officials. Talk about a situation ripe for abuse.

That's one lawsuit. Another challenges drop boxes, takes its own whack at signature verification, and wants to delay absentee ballots from being processed until Election Day, just to make sure the vote-counting process drags out as long as possible. And then, reports Politico, "A third suit filed in state court by the Republican National Committee and state Republican Party seeks to restrict the use of drop-boxes to business hours and suggests changes related to poll observers."

Phew. That's a lot.

Democrats are filing their own suits, with Marc Elias suing four counties on behalf of the New Georgia Project, trying to get early voting times extended.

On Fox Business, Sen. Rand Paul (of Kentucky, not Georgia) spewed out a lot of lies about voter fraud and then explained some of the logic behind attacks on absentee voting—which, again, was a big Republican voting strategy right up until Donald Trump decided he didn't like it and Republicans stopped doing it but Democrats won by doing it a lot—saying "I'm very, very concerned that if you solicit votes from typically non-voters, that you will affect and change the outcome."

All the lies about voter fraud and the crux of it is still the concern that people will vote who don't usually do so. Not people who shouldn't be allowed to vote. Just people who don't always do so. That's the danger Republicans are worried about. That's the reason to fight to make it harder to vote. It's literally just about keeping people from voting. Which we knew, but it's still amazing that they say it right out.


Brett Kavanaugh Explained How He Plans To Cheat American Voters

Unless my Election Day expectations are badly mistaken, we're going to hear a lot less from the U.S. Supreme Court in coming weeks than many anticipate, because the presidential election won't be close enough to steal. If I'm wrong, the nation is in for a spectacle of legalistic casuistry, pettifoggery and intellectual dishonesty like something out of Kafka's The Trial.

My own favorite literary portrayal of the judiciary, however, occurs in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, in which our hero explains his native country's legal system to his Master Houyhouyhnm, a philosophical talking horse who has never encountered a Yahoo capable of reason.

"I said, 'there was a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of the people are slaves.'"

Of course, Swift lived in an Ireland ruled by English judges, but the situation feels familiar. Citing a dispute over livestock, Gulliver explains: "they never desire to know what claim or title my adversary has to my cow; but whether the said cow were red or black; her horns long or short; whether the field I graze her in be round or square; whether she was milked at home or abroad; what diseases she is subject to, and the like; after which they consult precedents, adjourn the cause from time to time, and in ten, twenty, or thirty years, come to an issue."

These days, of course, things can move more quickly when politically convenient. So it is that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh got the ball rolling early with a recent opinion so filled with factual and legal absurdities that it became necessary for him to issue a correction. It is not recorded whether or not the great man's well-known fondness for beer played a role.

A constitutional "originalist" like his newly-installed colleague Amy Coney Barrett, Kavanaugh embraced what the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin called the "Cinderella theory" of voting—i.e. that votes not counted by midnight on Election Day turn into pumpkins.

This would be news to the authors of the Constitution, who lived in a time when it could literally take weeks to travel, from, say, Washington to Boston, depending upon the winds and tides. That's why the Electoral College doesn't meet until several weeks after the election, and the results aren't tabulated by Congress until the second week in January.

Nevertheless, Kavanaugh's opinion claims that states "definitively announce the results of the election on election night." This is brazen nonsense. Even the TV networks don't necessarily do that; not that it's Wolf Blitzer or Lester Holt's decision to make.

"To the contrary," as Mark Joseph Stern writes in an astringent takedown in Slate, "every state formally certifies results in the days or weeks following an election," and every state always has. None certify results on election night, nor ever have. For most of American history it's been a practical impossibility, and remains so today.

So why would a supposedly brilliant Supreme Court Justice make so elementary an error? Basically, because it's not a mistake at all, but a necessary prelude to Kavanaugh's attempt to cast suspicion (and to instruct Trump-appointed judges around the country) regarding mail-in and absentee ballots.

"States," the Justice pronounces, "want to avoid the chaos and suspicions of impropriety that can ensue if thousands of absentee ballots flow in after Election Day and potentially flip the results of an election."

To which Justice Elena Kagan responded tartly in her dissent that "there are no results to 'flip' until all valid votes are counted. And nothing could be more 'suspicio[us]' or 'improp[er]' than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on election night."

Never mind also that Boss Trump himself has always voted absentee until 2020. Nor that many 'suckers" and "losers" mailing ballots from U.S. military deployments around the world would also be disenfranchised. That's the Trump plan to abscond with the presidency: just don't count upwards of one third of the ballots and he wins.

Bret Kavanaugh is down with it all the way. It appears likely that the rest of the GOP-appointed justices, with the possible exception of Chief Justice Roberts, who sometimes appears concerned about the court's future, would back his play. Assuming, as I say, that there's any play to be made; and that the Justices believe that the spectacle of courts ordering millions of legally-cast votes to be discarded would serve even the short-term interests of the Republican Party.

If so, they ought to ditch the sacerdotal black robes and wear brightly-colored red team uniforms on the bench. For that matter, I can just see Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett decked out in cheerleader costumes with a big T on their chests, can't you?

#EndorseThis: Mark Hamill Says Every Military Absentee Vote Must Be Counted

In "Absentee," a powerful new Lincoln Project ad that runs nearly two minutes, Mark Hamill delivers a short course in American political history. The beloved actor reminds us all how absentee voting began during the Civil War as a way for Union Army troops to cast their ballots, far from home -- and how everything they fought to defend is at stake today.

"Nothing is more important than counting every vote, especially those that are serving our country. Suppressing any vote is un-American," says Hamill. If Trump gets his way and tosses out millions of absentee ballots, he warns, then many thousands of military absentee voters "will be deprived of their most sacred right.

"It cannot be allowed to happen."

Be ready to join Mark Hamill, the Lincoln Project, and millions of Americans to defend every ballot.


Federal Courts Invite Republicans To Challenge Absentee Ballots

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Two countervailing forces are competing to determine the outcome of the 2020 elections' highest-stakes contests before the close of voting on November 3.

President Trump and his Republican allies are pursuing a full-court press where their success hinges less on winning popular vote majorities and more on disqualifying volumes of absentee ballots via lawsuits to be filed after Election Day—if preliminary results in a few key states are close. The Democratic Party and their allies, meanwhile, have been pushing their party's more highly motivated voter base to continue their turnout lead seen in early and absentee voting, so Republicans cannot gain traction when they turn to the courts to disqualify late-arriving absentee ballots, or cite other technicalities to disqualify votes.

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