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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Despite significant doubts in the case and international protests, Georgia’s board of pardons denied clemency for death row inmate Troy Davis on Tuesday, clearing the way for his execution at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The decision marks a huge blow not only to Davis and his family, but also to the larger human rights community that had made his case a rallying cry for years.

Those who oppose Davis’ execution are dismayed, but some are holding onto the thin shred of hope that he will be saved by a last-minute intervention. Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said, “This is a huge setback for human rights in the USA, where a man who has been condemned under dubious evidence is to be executed by the state. Even at this late stage, the Board must reconsider its decision.”

Davis was convicted in 1991 of murdering a Savannah police officer in 1989; the verdict, however, has drawn criticism due to inconsistent testimonies and the lack of physical evidence. In the two decades since his trial, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses have recanted their testimonies — and one of those who has held onto his testimony is the principle alternative suspect.

Amnesty and other human rights groups deemed Sept. 16 the International Day of Solidarity for Troy Davis, and hundreds of thousands of people held vigils and other events to urge the Georgia board to grant him clemency. The case has drawn the attention of notable figures like Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, and Pope Benedict XVI. Evidently, even the high profile nature of the cause was not enough to halt the execution.

Columnist Leonard Pitts wrote that this case in particular shows how bloodthirsty our nation can be: “But that need to see death — the inability to imagine how justice can be had without it — is compelling. Indeed, there can be little doubt that is what is driving Troy Davis toward execution.” His observation is particularly salient as Texas Gov. Rick Perry draws praise instead of criticism for his record of overseeing 234 executions at a recent Republican presidential debate.

Troy Davis is one of many people who have been sentenced to die on insufficient and inconsistent evidence, but his case had particular resonance for activists speaking out against our unfair, sometimes barbaric justice system. As crowds cheer the death penalty during presidential debates, the cries of those calling for clemency go unheeded — a chilling indicator of the direction our country is heading.

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]