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Thursday, September 10, 2020
SAVE ELECTION NIGHT: There’s No Reason America has to Wait Weeks for Final Results
AFP/Getty Images Betsy McCaughey
The left and its media allies are warning Americans not to expect a winner on Election Night. If President Trump leads on Nov. 3, the victory will be nothing more than a “red mirage,” says Josh Mendelsohn, whose firm consults for the Democratic National Committee.
In the days or weeks afterward, a Trump victory will be beaten back and undone as mail-in ballots tip the election for Joe Biden, predicts New York Times columnist David Brooks. “Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances,” warns Hillary Clinton.
This is shameless propaganda, aiming to paint Election Night victories as a thing of the past because of mail-in voting. Election Night is a hallmark of American democracy. The public should be demanding the easy reforms that will protect it.
The 2020 election is likely to come down to a few battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Minnesota. Unless these states reform their election laws now, on Election Night they will be swamped with uncounted mail-in votes. States need to require that mail-in ballots are received well in advance of Nov. 3 and counted as they come in.
Otherwise, the uncertainty will drag on, voters will lose their power and the outcome will be decided in courtrooms and shady back rooms.
Or in the House of Representatives. All states must allocate their Electoral College votes by Dec. 14. If even one swing state is still dithering, it’s possible neither Trump nor Biden will have 270 electoral votes, and the decision would be thrown into the House of Representatives. An Electoral College deadlock hasn’t happened since 1876, but foolish state laws regarding mail-in ballots could produce one this year.
Half of all ballots are expected to be cast by mail. These ballots have to be processed by hand, and the signatures verified against signatures in the state database. Eleven states — including swing states Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan — bar election workers from even opening ballots and beginning the time-consuming verification process until Election Day. That’s crazy.
Fortunately, election officials in Pennsylvania and Michigan are already calling for reform. More states need to act. If they don’t, Congress should step in.
The US Constitution gives states primary authority over presidential elections, but Congress likely can still act.
Congress passed the Help America Vote Act to improve vote counting accuracy after the 2000 fiasco in Florida, when George W. Bush and Al Gore both claimed to have won. This time, Congress should stave off a crisis by requiring all states to count mail-in ballots in time for Election Night.
Anybody who opposes these simple reforms has mischief in mind.
Many Dems don’t want Election Night certainty. The DNC and allied groups are in court now suing to require that even ballots postmarked after Nov. 3 or lacking signatures are counted. But why should people who mail their ballots late have their vote counted any more than people who show up at the polls late?
US postal officials have made it clear that voters should mail in ballots seven days prior to Election Day to guarantee delivery. States should make that a legal deadline.
Late ballots threaten to throw the choice of president into newly elected House, which will convene January 3, 2021. Each state delegation would get one vote. Republicans narrowly control a majority of state delegations in the current Congress, but that could change. A House decision is a crap shoot for Biden and Trump. It’s also a moral defeat for the voters, who will have to stand by and watch Washington pols pick the president.
Worse, it will plunge the nation into a leaderless void from early November until early January, a perilous situation.
There’s still time to prevent it by processing mail-in ballots as they’re received and requiring that they’re mailed a week before the election. How hard is that?
Democrats and Never Trumpers who oppose these simple reforms have a different agenda: chaos in the streets, mobs demanding a Biden victory and a president ultimately chosen behind the scenes long after election night.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.