On today's BradCast: Election 2020 is coming down to the wire, with the deadline for voting just days away and no small amount of chaos unleashed on the entire process by federal courts over the past several days. While the U.S. Supreme Court has invoked their so-called "Purcell Principle" in recent years, to prevent last-minute changes to even bad, suppressive election laws in order to avoid chaos, both SCOTUS and lower federal courts have been busy this week invoking invoking election chaos in several key battleground states. [Audio link to full show posted at bottom of summary.]
On Thursday night, two Republican federal appellate court judges reversed a rule enacted with a Minnesota state court's approval in July, in a radical ruling that follows on the heels of another decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in a Pennsylvania case that has resulted in elections officials in both states now being forced to segregate late arriving mail-in ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day, but that don't arrive until the days following it. We explain the reason for the extraordinary disruption and the potential invalidation of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of lawfully cast ballots in both states --- and maybe others --- based on a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause that has never been blessed by a majority on the Supreme Court, but which could be very soon, depending on the vote of Donald Trump's newest appointment to the GOP's stolen Court, Amy Coney Barrett.
We try to make sense of the chaos that has now been unleashed by...
- that late Thursday night ruling by two Republican judges on the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals --- just five days before Election Day --- finding it unconstitutional for MN to count late arriving ballots lawfully cast and postmarked on time, despite a months-old state court-blessed settlement between MN's Sec. of State, voting advocates and even agreed to by the Trump Campaign;
- the SCOTUS decision to wait until after Election Day to decide if similar ballots in PA will be discarded as well;
- and a seemingly counter-intuitive SCOTUS decision to allow late-arriving ballots in North Carolina to be counted following a state court blessed settlement nearly identical to the one just struck down on Thursday night by the appeals court judges for MN.
As noted, chaos now reigns in several of the most important battleground states in the most critical election in U.S. history.
Meanwhile, in the new battleground state of Texas, where early voting numbers have now surpassed the total turnout for all of the 2016 election, officials in Tarrant County (Fort Worth) are dealing with chaos caused by what they describe as a printing error by their absentee ballot contractor. Roughly one-third of mail-in ballots cast in the County are being seen as unreadable by their computer optical-scan tabulation system. Rather than count those hand-marked paper ballots publicly by hand, state law calls for the potentially tens of thousands of unscannable ballots to be "remade" by elections officials by hand onto new, scannable ballot pages.
All of this should serve as a reminder of the necessity of citizen-based public oversight of our elections, which are not owned by unelected judges or elections officials or private vendors or contractors, but by we the people. If you've already voted and are now looking for a way to help between now and Election Day (and, as importantly, beyond), there are many opportunities! Check out some of them at Scrutineers.org, ProtectOurVotes.com, SmartElections.us and ValidateTheVoteUSA.org.
Our guest today is, herself, a longtime champion of public oversight of elections. MARYBETH KUZNIK is the founder of the election integrity group, VotePA.us and, as of September, also the Election Director in Armstrong County, PA, a somewhat rural, Republican-leaning county just north of Pittsburgh. She is kind enough to offer us some time amid the mayhem of her new job today, where she concedes "it's pretty crazy here."
Among the many topics we discuss...
- the new order to segregate late-arriving absentee ballots in PA so they can, potentially, be nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court after the election;
- the fact that the state legislature does not allow pre-processing, much less tabulation, of mail-in ballots until Election Day;
- How many days it is likely to take her county and the state as a whole to tabulate them ("We are in unchartered water here...But, we're not going to know Election Night, that's for sure." She is still looking for volunteers to help! Though they must be from Armstrong!);
- the type of voting systems in use in Armstrong (Optically-scanned hand-marked paper ballots. "I wouldn't be working here --- I would not be administering unverifiable touchscreen ballot-marking devices. You know that, Brad!");
- her concerns about voting in Philadelphia this year amid both civil unrest and the strongly Dem-leaning County's foolish decision to use new, unverifiable, computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices which failed spectacularly during their first use last year. ("Philly worries me," she says, adding that she has "zero confidence" in the systems which she describes as "the most expensive and the most wasteful voting system ever developed. Every voter does not need a $9,000 touchscreen to cast a ballot.";
- and some of the lessons she's learned in her transition from longtime Election Integrity advocate to Election Director...
Don't forget to exhale between now and Tuesday!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)