We learned yesterday (NY Times): "On Google, search interest in “Biden loses Pennsylvania” jumped 1,150 percent in a little over an hour, peaking at 8:52 p.m., according to data from Google Trends." Adding:
"The surge of misinformation that calling Pennsylvania for Mr. Biden had been “rescinded” emerged despite stronger policies against false election information at Facebook, Twitter and YouTube....On Tuesday, the platforms had labeled many of the posts containing false information about Mr. Biden “losing” Pennsylvania. But they have continued to spread"
Which begs the question: What is driving this insane inability to parse information and separate fiction from fact? Why are so many gravitating to brain-rotting garbage and then spreading the infection to others?
The false narrative about Biden's Pennsylvania victory being "rescinded" follows other surging falsehoods during election week. From Nov. 3 to Nov. 9, unfounded story lines about widespread voter fraud and ineligible ballots spread across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as votes were tallied in the swing states of Arizona, Michigan and Georgia. As usual the bloody lies and disinfo escaped into the info-sphere before the corrections and facts "got their pants on." (A take on Winston Churchill's famous line: "A lie will travel halfway round the world before the truth can get its pants on.")
Since Election Day, more misinformation about allegations of fraud or election-stealing focused on Pennsylvania than any other state. Among them - and only now surfacing - is that a court verdict is ready to retroactively toss out all mail ballots. Let's grasp that some right wing nut started that refuse, probably for the reason most wing nuts hate mail voting: it is too easy to do. Because it's so easy it must be fraudulent and so ought to be banned. Who exactly believes this twaddle? Mainly simpletons with IQs between 40 an 50.
Take the case of the Veterans' Day atrocity of nearly 3,000 service members identified as "fraudulent voters" by Trump's legal goons in Nevada. This occurred because these incompetent lunatics were unable (or unwilling) to recognize the key initials signifying a military posting after their names, for example APO, FPO, DPO. As well as 'AE' - Armed Forces in Europe. The Trump idiots also flagged other military voters on other bases, such as Ft. Bragg, and Elmendorf AFB in Alaska. Further actual addresses, i.e. for families living off base, are not given out of privacy concerns. But this is no reason to accuse these voters of fraud. As former FOX News analyst Carl Cameron put it on Dana Perino's FOX show, "It seems the Trump people don't understand that military personnel are moved around."
Then there is the WSJ's Holman Jenkins Jr. who is convinced mail voting in this past election has led to all the problems he feels have surfaced. (In actuality, the "problems" Trump's gang of gumshoes believe exists amount to a big fat duck egg.) But Holman and other pro-Trump media lackeys have been a primary source of the lie that mail ballots are somehow innately defective or untrustworthy. Given all this I feel it is incumbent on me to address Jenkins' claims, and in another post - later this week- the bullshit generated about other voter fraud claims. In tandem these seem to have pulverized the ability of too many Americans to think critically - amidst an admitted barrage of propaganda and a dedicated attack on our election system. By the Russkies? Nope, by Trump the sore loser orange putrescence and his retinue of rat traitors - like Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell et al.
Jenkins himself is an irrepressible bore but a sometimes adept media disinformationist and propagandist This likely has something to do with being ensconced in Rupert Murdoch's flagship publication; The Wall Street Journal. in its suspect Op-ed pages, rife with lies and conspiracy balderdash. So no surprise that 99 percent of what he writes is pure bunkum, and then some. His latest effort ('Let The Trump Revisionism Begin', Nov. 7-8, p. A13) remains faithful to the megabytes of baloney and mendacious babble churned out in previous columns.
This time Holman Jr. lets loose on mail ballots, which have been the bane of the Right in this election cycle despite the fact mail voting has been around since the Civil War. In his op-ed piece Holman also ambushes all those he believes will try to portray Trump's grand residency in any other terms but successful.
Let's look at his lies about mail ballots first. He writes: "Pennsylvania's extension of its ballot deadline was in plain contravention of its state law."
Hogwash! Holman seems not to know that state law regarding handling of ballots, including mail, is not engraved in stone, in perpetuity. Hence, changes to handling of ballots can lawfully be made if external conditions warrant. Given the nation has been in the grip of a pandemic, plus Trump deliberately used a toady to try to slow the mail down, the change in deadline was both reasonable an totally lawful - as the PA Lt. Governor John Fetterman forcefully noted in a CNN interview Saturday. As Fetterman aptly put it, clearly exasperated with Trump's games: "The President can sue a ham sandwich but it won't change the results." Noting that in the US of A anyone can sue anyone, for any reason - or a fever dream.
Holman wetting his panties again:
"The press, with surveys in hand showing Democrats were more likely than Republicans to vote by mail, dutifully averted its eyes from the problems inherent in mail balloting.."
I have no idea what "press" Holman is yapping about, but all the published media I've read over the past four months (WSJ, Financial Times, Washington Post, Denver Post, NY Times) featured at least one article on mail ballot issues in each edition. BUT...the greatest preponderance concerned Trump using Louis DeJoy (installed at USPS) to slow down the mail and adversely affect mail voting. E.g.
The rest of the issues concerned episodic errors or oversights, i.e. forgetting to sign one's ballot, signing too quickly and ending up with a distorted signature, forgetting to insert the date, forgetting to insert the ballot proper into the main envelope etc. All of which can be "cured" by contacting the voter and having him fix the ballot in person. Further, all such ballots are subjected to adjudication by a pair of trained judges - one Republican, one Democrat. The chance of an extra (bogus) ballot with a phony signature - a dead aunt or a pet dog - sneaking through, are slim and none.
So basically Holman - like all the Repukes enraged about the ease of such balloting - is making a mountain out of a mole hill. Holman goes on to bitch that:
"from county election board to county election board there's no uniform and consistent standard for signature verification."
Additionally he insists it's a "giant pitfall" which is nonsense. Here in Colorado, for example, incoming ballots are fed through a machine that checks the signatures on the envelope against each voter' on file signature. (That original signature is captured - collected when people first register to vote.) The machine kicks out envelopes if the signatures aren't close enough to those on file. A bipartisan team of judges then steps in to examine the signatures further. Ballots with mismatched signatures not resolved via voter inquiry are turned over to district attorneys to investigate further. (In the June 30 primary, of the 211, 626 ballots cast by mail only 3, 862 were rejected because of a mismatch ). Even then the reasons for mismatch are mostly prosaic, i.e. people forgetting to sign, or printing their names rather than signing.
Arguably, much of this was also applied to other states procedures, given many of the "newcomers" to mail voting were in contact with our Secretary Of State, Jena Griswold, i.e. on the best ways to head off associated problems.
The other trope that the "slowness" of the count makes for justified suspicion is also bonkers. Fact: If the Repuke state legislatures in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin had allowed processing of mail ballots as they arrived - like Florida does (at least 22 days before election day)- the results would have been ready the same night, as FLA was. So no one ought to blame the poll workers, volunteers after all, but the Reepo stooges who prevented expeditious early processing.
Holman's biggest whopper I saved for last, when he spouts:
"Mail-in balloting multiples the ways a legally entitled voter can cast a vote that can't be counted under the law."
In fact, this is total codswallop. There is no "multiplying" anything about a mail ballot's vote casting power. The mail ballot voter gets one shot, and one shot only, like any voter that physically goes to vote at the polls. He cannot write the name of his pet dog or cat on the ballot (each would need a verifiable signature already on file) nor can he pull out a dead person's name and do the same. Nor can he fill out multiple ballots and put them in different drop boxes. Why not? Because security video cameras are trained 24/7 on each and face recognition will nail the culprit.
Special risk-limiting audits are also regularly performed which check to see, for example, if a voter has been mailed a ballot but moved out of state- say to Texas. The audit ensures the Texas registrar of elections knows in advance about the newly minted Texan - so this person cannot vote twice with one ballot in Texas, another for Colorado.
The counting of election ballots is done in a special controlled room with cameras also on every second. Nor are ballots "added" as if outside the universe of existing ballots for a state. So one does not "find" ballots, one counts the existing ones. Counting ballots means giving voice to every legal voter, as opposed to what Trump wants - taking the franchise away from tens of thousands. During one of his lame- brained spiels on election night Trump complained about having a lead in Pennsylvania and then "It just began to disappear." No it didn't magically disappear.
Mail ballots that had just been brought in were now being counted. Trump's lead - such as it was - "disappeared" because a massive influx of mail-in ballots leaned largely to Biden, who encouraged his supporters to vote by mail. Those votes were the last to be counted, so it appeared Trump had an edge when he really didn’t. It was the "red mirage" much warned about in various media even before November 3rd.
Colorado and a number of other other states, also keep storage of mail ballots for up to 25 months in case of any litigation. Or if questions arise concerning a ballot's authenticity or origin. As one Denver clerk (Paul Lopez) summed up the process ('The Colorado Gold Standard Mail Voting Process', Denver Post, Sunday, Aug. 16, p. 1A):
"It's safe. It's secure, it's transparent, it has been tested. It's tried, it's true and it's pandemic proof."
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