Voting by mail could become the new normal amid coronavirus pandemic
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Vote by Mail will decide the 2020 election. Trump and 50,000 of his armed backers will try to say otherwise.
But VBM could turn us forever from hackable touch screens to paper ballots. To make that happen, election protection activists must overcome Vote by Mail's many vulnerabilities to make mail-in paper ballots an instrument of real democracy.
The odds are long, but the chances are real.
To follow an ongoing compendium of stories on this election as they unfold, go to the Election Protection portal at the Free Press website. You can also join our national COVID-19 Emergency Zoom call on election protection this Tuesday 5:00-6:30 p.m. Eastern Time (2:00-3:30 Pacific Time) by writing to me for the link.
In the Big Picture, Trump loudly hates VBM. But his followers LOVE it in states they control.
They fear Vote by Mail because it might deliver actual ballots to the Millennials and minorities who'll decide this election, and it might actually lead to them being fairly counted.
US senators Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden have proposed a bill to support VBM nationwide. It includes key funding and deadline provisions that are essential to its proper use.
But Trump's Republicans have already pledged $20 million to hire 50,000 "volunteers" to "patrol" the polls this fall. Many are likely to be carrying guns. Their mission will be to intimidate and assault "suspicious" or "fraudulent" voters, i.e. citizens of youth, color, and limited means.
To neutralize them, a half-million democracy activists must come out before, during, and after election day. They must be "armed" with a firm grip on voting with VBM's many challenges in each individual state and county. (Our weekly Zooms upcoming on Tuesday discuss this in great detail.)
The election protectors must be prepared to stand across from these intimidators at the polls and make voters feel safe and protected. They must safeguard paper ballots arriving in the mail, make sure they are safely stored, and guarantee that they're fairly counted.
Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah, and Hawaii have long voted by mail. So will California this fall. (Trump has complained that with VBM "no Republican in this country will ever win another election," but a California Republican Congressional candidate just did.)
All states have long provided absentee ballots. But this fall most will be severely stretched to handle massively increased VBM volume, and to deal with a system being used on this scale for the first time in their history.
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