Votes In, Distrust Wins
Terry H. Schwadron
Nov. 9, 2022
The rest of you may have been watching for actual results on the various television channels, opting either for a Steve Kornacki big board presentation or a this-time-around more cautious set of calls from the Fox News election desk.
However it looked through the night as if the House might turn enough seats for a Republican majority, the margin was far less than Republicans had anticipated, and the Senate results remained too close to know, Officially, control of both houses were unresolved this morning, and voters did not deliver a huge Republican wave.
But that didn’t keep down the authorized whining.
I spent part of my night checking in at Frankspeech.com, where My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell was hosting what he called his own “real-time crime desk” to police the results of the elections. He announced his instant fraud-assessment effort on Monday, just as campaigning was ending, suitably on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast.
The promise was that Mike Lindell, and a team of centralized cyber guys were going to monitor thousands of voter precincts, all with different voting rules and procedures, for irregularities that would be apparent only to him. “It’s going to be the real-time crime desk.” However scary or strangely extraterrestrial, the political Right was ready to jump on every technical glitch, including one in Arizona that did not affect vote-counting, as “evidence” of intentional skullduggery,
With all the reports of Republican state legislatures tightening voter rules, court decisions allowing legislatures to close some mail ballot drop-off sites, armies of MAGA poll watchers and militia-clad protectors around drop-off sites, you could be sure that elections were more “secure” than ever. But apparently not.
Indeed, The Washington Post reported that Republican officials and candidates in at least three battleground states were still busy on Monday pushing lawsuits meant to disqualify thousands of mail ballots after urging their own supporters to vote on Election Day. Donald Trump chimed in with his own report on a Detroit absentee ballot problem that apparently never happened.
Maybe we should be measuring attempts at partisan vote suppression rather than the handful of errant voter registrants in an election involving more than 160 million ballots.
By now, we know that Election Day merely launched a new front for any number of election-denying MAGA candidates in more than half the states, an estimated 300 Republican candidates in all, towards pursuing ensuring that only one side could win — whether by vote, rule-changes, or disqualification of ballots for the other guy.
The Justice Department felt intimidation threats important enough in this election to post monitors in 24 states.
The Voter Challenges
The vote may be in, but the whining is just beginning.
Considering all the anti- voting effort, that there was a huge voter turnout, and what was looking like a mixed buffet of outcomes, was near miraculous.
Leaving the outcomes to others, it turns out that voter anger cuts in multiple directions.
Still, we can expect challenges and feistiness over the counting in many states. The only hope is that the fight will be more about the equivalent of hanging chads than over physical bullying violence. It did seem noteworthy that several Republicans who have pushed away from Trump did better in their races than those who held him close.
The lawsuit parade over disqualifying whole troughs of votes — thousands of them at once, will continue even after a “final” ballot is or isn’t counted.
The Pennsylvania state Supreme Court has agreed with the Republican National Committee that election officials should not count ballots on which the voter neglected to put a date on the outer envelope — even in cases when the ballots arrive before Election Day. As a result, enough ballots will be set aside to swing a close race. In Michigan, , the Republican nominee for secretary of state sued the top election official in Detroit, a Black-majority city, last month seeking to toss absentee ballots not cast in person with an ID — not a state requirement. Why only Detroit? The plaintiff never has said. Wisconsin Republicans won a court ruling that will prevent some mail ballots from being counted when the required witness address is not complete. Wisconsin was facing close elections for Senate, Governor and other statewide races.
The Post quoted elections experts say these efforts appear to go against a principle, enshrined in federal law of not disenfranchising voters for minor errors. But, as we know, the law is now what a majority of appointed judges say is law.
The point is that this legal avenue is just one. In other states, including Georgia, another site of close races, the Republican governor and secretary of state simply closed voting options in smaller rural, Black counties. Intimidation efforts by private armies of watchers may or may or may not have had effect. And there are other efforts to stop early voting, mail voting, and, in Pennsylvania, the promise from gubernatorial Republican candidate Doug Mastriano to throw out all voter registrations and start over.
ProPublica.com documented how old felony records have been used to disenfranchise 20percent of Tennessee’s Black voters. The New York Times reviewed more than 20 hours of recordings of Michigan Fair Elections meetings, a group of Republican-trained poll watchers looking for any minute discrepancies in Detroit, along with training sessions and organizing calls from closely linked groups. What emerged, The Times said, was a picture of an organization fueled by falsehoods, bent on trying to influence the midterms and determined to change the voting system in ways that would benefit Republicans.
In an east Texas county, a judge backed the ACLU which had filed suit over officials appearing to shadow and stand behind Black voters, and repeatedly ask for identification not sought from white voters. In Florida, arrests by the governor’s newly appointed election police squad were reported to be having ripples in halting votes among Black citizens.
The Ever-Present Divide
All this came as candidates like Arizona’s outspoken GOP nominee for governor, Kari Lake, was muttering out loud without detail that she had detected some amount of vote cheating. She and her opponent remained locked in a close race.
The point is that the actual elections are almost a byplay to a larger struggle underway to set a direction and tone for the country. While the count in several races was still too tight to judge the full electoral effect, the winners of the election clearly were Distrust and Dissent. Exit polls reported anger in all directions — towards Joe Biden, the Supreme Court, and the economy in general.
The vitriol kicked up over our political divisions is not going away.
Indeed, the absurd preemptive announcement that there will be an announcement by Donald Trump about a new run for the White House — just as we await news about pending criminal charges against him — is a guarantee for more chewing of the same election fraud cud for the next two years minimum.
The bad feelings about perceived frauds on the one hand and intimidation efforts on the other will outlive who ends up in office.
Amid the scramble about which party may emerge with a one- or two-vote majority in the Senate and promises about what appeared overnight to be a Republican majority in the House to spend all its efforts on destabilization and vindictiveness, the elections themselves seemed more excuse to continue arguing than a definitive new set of directions for the government.