On today's BradCast: You thought your work was done after you vote? Think again! [Audio link to show is posted in full below summary.]
But, first up, a quick rundown of today's disturbing headlines to serve as a reminder that the only thing that matters between now and November 3rd is the general election now already under way, in which more than 26 million have already voted. Have you? We've got some useful tips on how to maximize the chances of your ballot being counted as cast in this pandemic year.
Then, a 3-judge panel of Republican appointees to the Michigan state Court of Appeals has overruled a lower court judge who had extended the deadline for mail-in ballots to arrive in the key battleground state, given U.S. Postal Service slowdowns. The lower court judge had previously determined that ballots postmarked by November 2 (the day before Election Day ) should still be counted if they were received by election officials up to two weeks after Election Day. The 3-judge panel, however, overturned that ruling and says that ballots must now arrive by Election Day. That's disturbing, given that some 6,400 ballots were tossed for arriving late after the state's August primary, in a state that is said to have elected Donald Trump by fewer about 11,000 votes in 2016.
Meanwhile, after technical problems with the voting systems caused hours-long lines for voters in parts of Georgia and Texas last week during their first days of Early Voting, the website for the Supervisor of Elections in Orange County, Florida --- yes, another key battleground state --- was not available today during the first day of Early Voting in the Sunshine State. The SOE's office blames a private vendor for incorrectly renewing the office's website domain.
With all of the problems expected in this election --- even more than we usually see (and that is saying a lot!) --- public oversight of the election, before, during and after Election Day, will be critical this year. To that end, we're joined today by EMILY LEVY, longtime election protection advocate and now founder of Scrutineers.org, a nonpartisan online community of people working to protect US elections.
Levy details how you can get involved with the group and help oversee our election processes from many different angles in your own community. The courts, clearly, cannot be counted on to protect our votes and, as the best elections officials in the nation will tell you, elections officials are not to be trusted! Only public oversight by the citizenry can guarantee a fair election.
Levy explains a number of the groups ongoing projects, including a (free!) Zoom training session this Friday for their "Poll Tapes Project", detailing how citizens can photograph and/or video tape the voting system results tapes that are printed out at the end of the night at polling places when they close. Reviews of those tapes are often helpful in discovering anomalies in the results eventually reported by county headquarters or the state.
She also discusses the group's "Candidate Caution Letter" campaign, requesting that candidates do not concede their races until all votes are tabulated and confirmed to have been done so accurately; an effort to train poll workers to keep an eye out for certain concerns that regular poll worker training generally does not cover; and how to be a polling place election monitor on Election Day and an observer at county headquarters as votes are being tallied and/or examined during post-election "audits" (at least in the very few jurisdictions that do any sort of post-election spot check of ballots to make sure that tabulation computers were counting accurately.)
Scrutineers is "a place where people can learn about the issues starting from scratch, if that's their beginning place, or get more advanced help if they've been working on these issues for awhile, and talk to each other, coordinate with each other to set up projects in their local communities, find the resources they need and ask questions of people who have been doing this work for a long time," Levy tells me.
"There's quite a wide variety of things to choose from," she says, including things that can be done from home. "Everybody can do something, and I hope that everybody will."
While campaigning and GOTV (Get Out the Vote) work that many people do "kind of ends on Election Night, that's when a lot of the activities that we're training people to do begin," Levy notes. "We're really hoping to see a huge influx of those dedicated people who want to make sure that everyone gets to vote, [are then able to] turn that dedication into making sure all those votes they worked so hard to get actually get counted accurately!"
Finally, we take a few quick calls today from listeners on how THEY plan to vote this year and some of the worries they have as Election Day is now just two weeks away...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)