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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Mail Ballots, Voting Rights, and the Census

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.  
Chuck Todd, Carrie Dann, Ben Kamisar and Melissa Holzberg at NBC:
  • Trump installed a new Postmaster General (who was a campaign donor) who instituted new cost-saving measures that have slowed mail delivery nationwide and sparked fears about absentee ballot delays.
  • He explicitly said yesterday that he would block proposed emergency funding for the Postal Service, adding that USPS doesn’t “have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can’t do it, I guess.
  • He appeared to put more stock in an intelligence report finding that China prefers a Biden presidency than in Russian efforts to denigrate Biden, despite intelligence officials saying that pro-Trump election interference from Russia “was the far graver, and more immediate, threat.
  • He equated foreign interference from Russia to Democrats “meddling” in the election because they are promoting mail-in balloting during the pandemic.
  • He suggested in a tweet that Florida’s mail-in ballots are more trustworthy than other states’ because Florida has had “two great Republican governors.”
  • The president’s son-in-law reportedly met in person with Kanye West, who is trying to get on ballots nationwide and recently did not deny that he’s doing so as a spoiler to Biden’s campaign.
  • GOP operatives in at least four states have aided West’s attempts to get on the 2020 ballot
William H. Frey at Brookings:
Two weeks ago, the Trump administration issued a memorandum seeking to remove undocumented immigrants (“illegal aliens” in the memo’s words) from the census headcount that serves as the basis for reapportioning House of Representatives members among states. Then, on Monday, the Census Bureau announced that they would be cutting short the headcount by a month. In both cases, these changes will result in an undercount of demographic groups that are not part of Trump’s political base.
The plan to omit undocumented immigrants for congressional reapportionment falls in line with the administration’s failed proposal to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, which was struck down by the Supreme Court last year. After the ruling, Trump ordered the development of a database—using federal sources such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration—which could be used to identify undocumented immigrants.