Why voting by mail in US swing states could go wrong

Why voting by mail in US swing states could go wrong

Last week, Democrats made the case for Joe Biden to become the next occupant of the White House. Now it's the Republicans' turn to convince the US electorate to give President Trump a second term.

With Biden still leading in national polls, Trump has to win a handful of the key battleground states that swept him to electoral college victory in 2016. The twist is that he'll need to do that in an election where the proportion of mail-in ballots is expected to soar amid the coronavirus pandemic. How might that play out?


Swing states are in the mail. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by less than 2 percent of the vote in four swing states: Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Residents in all of those states say they are much more likely to vote by mail this year due to COVID-19.

For an idea of how that could go, consider that in the primaries this year, officials in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — where Trump's razor-thin margin was roughly a total 80,000 votes — discarded more than 60,000 ballots due to missed deadlines or other violations, according to the Washington Post.

Voting by mail has become a deeply polarized issue. While absentee or mail-in voters are traditionally Republican, this year it's the Democrats (the majority of which tend to vote on Election Day) who are pushing for states to allow mass voting by mail. Much of the GOP — following Trump's own unsubstantiated claims — now say mail-in voting would encourage fraud. (Never mind that Trump himself is voting by mail after the lifelong New Yorker became a Florida resident last year).

Meanwhile, the US Postal Service, which must deliver mail-in ballots before the myriad different state deadlines, is stuck in a partisan tug-of-war over funding to ensure the envelopes arrive in time. Democrats – who proposed the funds — are particularly concerned, especially since Trump hinted that he'd be happy to see the USPS starved of the resources it needs to make mail-in voting doable if Democrats continue to hold up the next coronavirus stimulus bill.

Both sides worry about a worst-case scenario in which one candidate looks like he's won on election night, only to lose as mail-in votes are counted in swing states with slim margins. If that loser is Trump — who has railed against mail-in voting and already hinted that he won't accept a loss — a deep political crisis could be at hand.

All of this means that an election whose outcome and basic legitimacy will likely be more bitterly contested than that of any other vote in modern American history, is hinging in many ways on the mail. And with even standard election infrastructure looking creaky in the battleground states, it's possible that a close election won't get decided for days, weeks, or even months, fueling mistrust in the credibility of the election itself.

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time that a modern US presidential election is contested. But what happened in Florida in 2000 — when the Supreme Court controversially decided the election in George W. Bush's favor after several weeks of pondering "hanging chads" — will look like child's play by comparison.

Advancing global money movement for everyone, everywhere

https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimp/N6024.4218512GZEROMEDIA/B26379324.311531246;dc_trk_aid=504469522;dc_trk_cid=156468981;ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=;dc_rdid=;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=;tfua=;gdpr=${GDPR};gdpr_consent=${GDPR_CONSENT_755};ltd=?

Even with innovations in fintech and digital payments, roadblocks related to basic infrastructure like electricity and internet connectivity still prevent many migrant workers from being able to transfer money to their families back home with a truly digital end-to-end flow. While more workers can send money digitally today, the majority of people still receive funds in cash. Read more about why public-private partnerships are key to advancing the future of global money movement and why it matters from experts at the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute.

The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

More Show less

Some of the worst sectarian clashes since Lebanon's 15-year civil war (1975-1990) broke out in Beirut this week between supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, and Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. Shiite protesters were rallying against the state probe into the Beirut port blast, which occurred last year. They say authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. Below is our original piece on the Beirut port explosions published on August 5, 2020.


The twin explosions at Beirut's port on Tuesday were so powerful that the aftershocks reverberated as far as the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. The specter of fire and smoke was such that many suggested on social media that Beirut had experienced a nuclear blast.

In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon's government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

More Show less

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What does it actually mean to cut $1 trillion from the Democrats' $3.5 trillion social spending bill?

President Biden has proposed one of the most ambitious expansions of federal spending in recent memory. If he gets everything he wants, it would probably be the largest expansion of government since the Great Society, but he's not going to get everything he wants. Democrats have basically said they cannot do all $3.5 trillion in spending. They're probably going to end up around $2 trillion. So what gets cut? Well, we don't know yet. There's kind of two ways to go about this. They could either cut the number of programs that have been proposed, doing fewer things with more money on a permanent basis, or they could try to do more things, each program getting less money and potentially doing them on a temporary basis. So, a future Congress would have to extend it. What does this mean for you? Well, a lot of the money in here is designed to go directly to families, either in the form of cash payments, through the tax code, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, or subsidies for things like child care, early childhood education, and community college. And if you cut these things back, it means less money is going to go out the door to the American people. It also means less tax increases to finance it. So the implications of what's being proposed could actually end up being a big deal for a lot of Americans who would qualify for benefits under these new programs.

More Show less

How will artificial intelligence change the world and especially the job market by 2041? AI scientist Kai-fu Lee just wrote a book about precisely that, and he predicts it'll shake up almost every major industry. AI, he explains, will be most disruptive to many so-called "routine" occupations, but the damage may be reduced by shifting "empathetic" workers to jobs that require human empathy. Watch his interview on GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Is a robot coming for your job? Kai-fu Lee explains AI

The Atlantic CEO Nick Thompson believes in tech firms doing business in China because connecting with people there is a huge social good for the world. But in demanding LinkedIn de-platform certain people, he says, the Chinese government crossed a line, and "you can't justify that."

Watch Ian Bremmer's interview with Nicholas Thompson in an upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television.

Sectarian clashes in Lebanon: As Lebanese supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, were on their way to a protest in Beirut Thursday, gunfire broke out, evidently between Hezbollah militants and those of the Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. The protesters were rallying against the ongoing state probe into last year's devastating twin blasts at a Beirut port, saying that state authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. They have called for the dismissal of Judge Tarek Bitar — who is leading the probe and on Monday issued an arrest warrant for a prominent Shiite parliamentarian linked to Amal. Each side has blamed the other for starting the violence Thursday, which killed at least six people, injured dozens more, and threw the entire city into a panic. In a grim omen, the clashes, which are among the worst in recent years, erupted along one of the old front lines (dividing Muslim and Christian neighborhoods) of the 15-year sectarian civil war that devastated the country up until 1990. With the country mired in economic and political crises, the people of Lebanon can't seem to catch a break: just last week the country was plunged into complete darkness when its decrepit power grid ran out of fuel. Meanwhile, Najib Mikati, who became prime minister designate in July after months of political deadlock, declared a "day of mourning," but civil strife continues.

More Show less

35.4: The US has overtaken China as the country with the largest share of the world's Bitcoin mining networks, now accounting for 35.4 of the global mining presence. This comes after the Chinese government banned domestic cryptocurrency mining operations to promote its own digital yuan that would track every single transaction.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal