Friday, April 17, 2020

Skewering The Strawmen Surrounding Mail Voting

"No! No mail voting!  None! Ya need to proudly display yourselves in front of the bat virus!"
(Covid Bat: 'He's kidding, right?)

To read the barking by James Dickey,  chairman of  the Texas GOP,    (WSJ, 'Battle Brews Over Voting By Mail', p. A3)  e.g.:

"We will continue to vigorously oppose any attempt by Democrats to increase error and fraud by mail voting"

You would think he was channeling Trump's ignorant ravings about using mail voting, in preparation for the general election Nov. 3rd. But no, he was freelancing this stupid meme all on his own, and that is a huge reason this memetic strawman needs to be exposed for the codswallop it is.

Even before the primary voting fiasco in Wisconsin last Tuesday, there had been warnings from health officials that the virus had the potential to return with equal or greater ferocity in a second wave - starting in the fall.  This means, for any intelligent society or nation, preparing an election infrastructure which does not put voters at a dire risk - to themselves or their family.   Contrary to some media memes that such change  poses a "dilemma", I say 'Rubbish!'and where there's a will there's a way to get this done - if preparations are begun NOW.

We know Dotard Bonespurs is not in favor of such ease in voting (which we have here in Colorado) having already blabbed (Denver Post, April 5, p. 6A):

"It shouldn't be mail in voting. It should be you go to a booth and you proudly display yourself!"

Ineluctably expressed as only an asswit like Dotard could given he never "displays" himself..  Of course, like so much of what Trump belches out this is more in the realm of passed gas or cow-like farts, much like his recent  claim he had total authority to open the country up to business.  But this is why Rachel Maddow's motto  - announced almost every night on her show - is: "Pay attention to what he does, not what he says."

In this sense, while he was barfing out baloney concerning the need to display oneself in a pandemic no less, he was actually  cutting $20b from the latest coronavirus relief bill which the Ds had earmarked for the post office.  This is in line with Trump's take in mail ballots, because in his ape brain he believes if he can gut the post office he can do an end run around any effort to implement mail ballots.   The dope likely hasn't figured out that the people who will be hurt most are his own Trumpies in  red states, who depend on the U.S. mail to get their stimulus and other gov't checks.

Way to go, Donnie Dotard!  Especially as this fool also added, to his first remark: "I think a lot of people cheat!"  Which could only be the most profound example of psychological projection as Dotard cheats at everything, including golf.  So it behooves us to expose and skewer the numerous strawmmen that have been trotted out by the Right's trolls and Trump's own gaslighting, regarding by mail voting.

First, let's look at the claim Dem voters rely on mail voting more, so they can cheat. (According to Trump). In fact, University of  Florida professor Michael McDonald - who tracks balloting in his own ex post facto research, found that "Republicans rather than Democrats are most likely to vote by mail".

It is also, not surprisingly, Republicans who've been exposed as the biggest mail ballot cheats. This was demonstrated in a North Carolina congressional election last year where it was found that the Republican candidate's campaign had engaged in widespread fraud via mail ballots.

Another straw man claim is that a change to mail ballots will spur partisan turnout for the opponents' side. Thus, the argument goes, if mail balloting is made universal, then Dems will pour out in their numbers to take down Trump. (One reason why he's worried that switching to all mail voting will mean no more wins for him or the Repukes). But in fact all three propositions on which this argument rests have been fond wanting.

The main proposition is that - since voting by mail is easier than going to the polls - more people will vote. If more people vote, a higher turnout, it will redound to the benefit of Democrats.  However, tallying the actual statistics, in the states that have transitioned to all mail voting there has been little evidence of such partisan advantage for either side. This, according to Rice University professor Robert Stein, who has helped to put in place all mail systems.

Drilling down deeper is a study by Amelia Showalter, who applied data analytics to all mail elections in Colorado (in 2014) and Utah in 2016. She found there was a very slight partisan advantage in each race.  In the Colorado study, Showalter found that Republicans outperformed their predicated turnout in 2014 by a lsightly higher margin than Democrats. Sen. Corey Gardner ousted the Dem incumbent, Mark Udall, and the GOP won 3 of 4 other statewide races on the ballot.

In the Utah study (2016), Democrats gained an equally slight advantage in those counties that switched to all mail voting.  Both states did see overall turnout increases, especially among those voters usually considered least likely to participate in elections. According to Showalter (Denver Post, April 12, p. 6A):

"There was a more noticeable effect among low propensity voters.   These are people who aren't the die hards who go out to vote in every election. They ae not going to vote in every partisan primary."

Of course, the increased turnout in either case is not exactly rocket science or Mensa level testing.  Filling out a ballot at home affords people more time to think about their choices, their votes. Hence, the increased thoughtfulness is something to be valued, not dismissed.  Further, mail voting is an immense benefit to frail or less mobile elderly voters, who'd be less able to stand in long lines to wait to cast ballots. Or "display themselves" in Trump's imbecilic parlance. It is also a boon to those of whatever age who might be ill, or who would be unable to get time from work to vote easily.

Thad Kousser, Chairman of the Political Science dept. at the University of California - San Diego, has also found voting by mail (in California) "was especially helpful to older people and rural voters - also those more likely to be Republican."

He called Trump's statements "a gross exaggeration of any partisan effect we are likely to see".  One can similarly conclude that the remark of Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, ibid..

"Universal mail voting would be the end of the republic as we know it"

Is also a  hyper-ventilated brain fart.  The reason is that all the evidence shows the Republican or Trump voters would gravitate to mail ballots as easily as the Dems.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar wrote in a recent NY Times op-ed:

"Both Democratic and Republican governors and secretaries of state have recently taken actions to make voting by mail more accessible during this pandemic. It’s troubling that many states still insist on making it hard to mail in a ballot. Sixteen states require voters to provide an excuse to obtain an absentee ballot (though several have lifted that requirement for their primary elections); six states also require more than one witness, or a notary, to validate a mail-in ballot. Imagine trying to drum up witnesses — much less a notary — in the thick of a public health crisis. We need to do away with the hurdles and the back flips once and for all."

She is absolutely correct.  If the pandemic persists into the fall, or god forbid we have a second wave, it is critical an alternative voting mechanism be in  place.   The most logical alternative, given the pandemic, would be mail ballots so people do not have to risk their lives, and/or livelihoods, say if there's a partial re-opening.

The main resistance now, apart from the codswallop I just skewered from Trump and the Repubs, is that going to all mail ballots will be "difficult".  This is because state and local governments may need different vote -counting equipment and supplies. Also, public awareness via education would be needed to inform voters about the new systems.

To which I (and Janice) say, 'So what?'  Get cracking now and do all you have to do to make the new mail voting systems a reality, including preparing educational materials.  Don't make excuses like a backward kid who might cry "The dog ate my homework, so what can I do now""  Well, you can do it over if you must!  Just don't make excuses for not delivering the goods!

Irrespective of Trump's "phased", pathetic partial opening scheme - which will blow up when the first infections appear because too many aren't adhering to social distancing guidelines - the mail balloting needs to be implemented. Given this devastating virus and the unconscionable lack of proper testing, it is the only way to ensure citizens' voting rights are protected.

See also:


"On Wednesday, a crowd of right-wing nuts — complete with their oversized but underworked utility vehicles, Confederate flags, guns and other such overcompensation accoutrements — descended on the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, to whine about the temporary pause to dinners at Applebee's and accidental brushfires at gender-reveal parties. The deep fear of emasculation driving the protest was not particularly subtle at this protest, as the crowd chanted "Lock her up" at Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who is accused of no other crime other than making deeply insecure men fuss about a woman in power. "


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