We need to come together for a last-ditch effort to make sure that our election is fair and democracy lives another day.
The 2020 election is reaching its dramatic conclusion, and the world is watching to see which old white man America picks next.
The election was not the Blue Wave that Democrats hoped for, but it is still extremely close, with no definitive victor emerging on either side as of now.
But before we get to analysis, we must make sure to count every single vote. That is the basis of our democracy, the meaning of America and the center of what the founding fathers fought for when they dreamed up the United States so many years ago.
As expected, Trump declared victory early anyway in an election speech that was widely denounced by everyone from Ben Shapiro to George Takei.
No, Trump has not already won the election, and it is deeply irresponsible for him to say he has.— Ben Shapiro (@Ben Shapiro)1604475073.0
"No, Trump has not already won the election, and it is deeply irresponsible for him to say he has," tweeted Shapiro early Wednesday morning.
"GOP leaders: Now would be a good time to grow a backbone and denounce Trump's early claim of victory when there are millions of votes still to be counted in hotly contested states," wrote Takei.
The Trump campaign is also apparently running active Facebook ads implying he won the election, despite the website's declaration that it would ban political ads after the election.
Now, people from across party lines are demanding that every vote be counted.
"We'll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court," said Trump. "We want all voting to stop. We don't want them to find any ballots at 4 o' clock in the morning and add them to the list, ok?"
Mail-in absentee ballots are currently still being counted. As of noon on Wednesday, around half of Pennsylvania's mail-in ballots have been counted, and 200,000 ballots remain to be counted in Georgia. 80,000 Michigan ballots remain, and around 400,000 remain in Arizona.
But the GOP is attempting to stymie ballot counts. In Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers attempted to discount votes from a Pennsylvania county that allowed voters who filled out their ballots incorrectly to "cure" or fix them. People who forgot to put ballots in specific envelopes, for example, would have had their votes ignored if they hadn't been able to fix their ballots.
More than 200,000 mail-in ballots in Philadelphia remain to be counted, city commissioners Lisa Deeley and Al Schmi… https://t.co/aj8LTI8EVv— The Philadelphia Inquirer (@The Philadelphia Inquirer)1604502476.0
A Pennsylvania judge met the attempt with a "skeptical" reception, according to Politico. Back in October, the Supreme Court ruled 4:4 that election officials must accept ballots that arrive 3 days after the election (five votes are needed to grant a stay, which bodes badly, since Amy Coney Barrett is now on the court).
Joe Biden and Donald Trump remain stunningly neck-and-neck across the nation. Before the election, many feared Trump might attempt to claim an early victory, especially if he appeared to be winning before all the ballots were counted.
Now, people around the country are preparing to take nonviolent action to demand that every single vote is counted. The Protect the Results coalition will be hosting peaceful marches around the country, and groups are prepared to strike (all nonviolently, to be clear for the riot-fearers among us) should corruption succeed.
The division between Trump voters and Biden voters may feel unbridgeable, but almost everyone agrees: We want to preserve our great democracy. Democracy relies on every single vote being counted; and this year, when millions of people voted absentee because of a pandemic, it only makes sense that some votes would take longer than others to count.
All in all, the election did not turn out as many people expected on Election Night. Democrats saw some victories: Arizona's Mark Kelly and Colorado's John Hickenlooper flipped their Senate seats. The Squad grew stronger, with new elects like Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, and America's first trans senator—Sarah McBride—joining AOC, Rashida Tlaib, and other progressive Congressmembers. But other Republicans who Democrats hoped to oust like Mitch McConnell, Joni Ernst, and Lindsey Graham maintained power, and the House's Democratic majority shrank.
Whether this is evidence that Democratic establishment is officially over and time is ripe for a new Democratic movement to take power, or if it simply proves that Republican power is strong in America, is still to be determined.
Now, with health care on the ballot, internment camps on the border, and election integrity almost irredeemably compromised, we need to come together for a last-ditch effort to make sure that our election is fair and democracy lives another day.
Join a virtual or in-person Protect the Results action in your city today.
We spoke to five first-timers in states across the country about why this election matters to them.
With early voting winding down and election day still around the corner, Americans have already turned out in record numbers to cast ballots that will decide their nation's future.
And they've done so despite mounting barriers to voting access and while bearing the weight of collective traumas, from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to police violence against protestors and extreme weather events that have wreaked havoc on frontline communities.
"My anger factored into my decisions," Gwen, a 19-year-old voter from rural New York, admitted to Popdust.
Voter turnout is up this year because first-time voters are making voting plans, getting to the polls, and casting ballots in droves. Some have just become eligible to vote because of their age or as recently naturalized citizens, while others have never felt compelled to vote before but changed their minds this year. Popdust spoke to five first-timers in states across the country about why this election matters to them.
Note: These responses have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
Gwen, 19, she/her, New York
Gwen waited in line for more than two hours to vote at this polling location in rural New York. She says that several people gave up waiting in line and left before voting.
"It is my first time voting this year because I wasn't quite old enough last year at election time. This election determines whether my disabled wife and I will have to flee the country. We live in a rural part of New York, and conservatives live in every other house on our street. Voting was tough because I recently moved and had to change my county, and polling was not accessible — the lines were painfully long, and there was barely any seating for the elderly and disabled."
Gwen says she relies on this close group of friends and is afraid she will have to move away from them if Trump is re-elected.
Justin, 18, he/him, Michigan
"I'm voting for the first time because I am 18 and my mom taught me that it is important to vote. I also think that Trump is not a decent or good person, and he doesn't get things done. He just argues and name-calls everyone. But, to be honest, I don't expect much change with the next president. I would like to see them address things that matter, but politicians aren't listening to what young adults want. They worry about money and fundraising and making promises to people that pay them. I can completely understand why some young people don't vote.
I registered to vote in person at the township clerk's office and filled out and returned my ballot the next day. It was easy, and I didn't have to wait in line. If I had to go stand in line on election day, I don't know if I would have done it. I can see how long lines discourage voters. I can order something online and have it delivered to my house, and I can deposit a check with an app on my phone — why does voting need to be difficult?"
Miguel, 36, he/him, Massachusetts
"While I'm 36 years old, I decided now to vote for the first time. I'm voting because I feel every single American should be heard. I used to think it didn't matter and that things would just be what they are, but I realized that one vote could lead to others voting. I truly don't understand how there are so many celebrations now, when so much has been lost — so many lives, so many values. We need wholesome change."
Catrina, 18, she/her, California
Catrina says that her family always talked about how important it is to vote.
"I have grown up in a family that has always openly talked about politics, which is very unlike most families in America. Part of those discussions were always about how important it is to vote and make sure that one's voice is heard. Ever since 2016, and probably even before that, I have felt an urgency around voting. I remember looking at the results in 2016 and thinking, 'how are all of these people not voting?' It is really hard to be a teenager, just a few years away from voting, and watch so many people not vote. I counted down the days until I turned 18 just so that I could finally vote! The second I got my ballot in the mail, I started to fill it out. I was so excited.
This is really the most important election in recent history. We are at a crossroads in our country, and we need to make sure that we make the right decision about who we want to represent our country as president. Not only is the presidential election important, but there are so many amazing women and people of color running for office who that will be amazing if they get elected."
Jake, 18, he/him, Florida
Jake says that he wants elected leaders to address police brutality.
"I had been planning on voting for a while, but given how important this election is, I definitely needed to. I think we need to elect leaders who are going to value life over the economy and property, whether it comes to police brutality, the environment, or COVID-19. Our current leadership always chooses against the well-being of the general population, and that needs to change."
Making calls to Americans about Joe Biden was an illuminating, sometimes horrifying experience.
Like most people I know, I've been existing in a state of dread for all of October in anticipation of November 3rd.
In order to spend less time languishing in that dread, I've been partaking in small bouts of political activism in an effort to get out the vote. I've written the requisite several hundred postcards and made several strongly worded posts.
I've also been attempting to call voters. Earlier in the pandemic, I phonebanked for the first time—for progressive candidates in NYC, many of whom won their primaries. Fresh off that success, I felt ready to make some calls for Biden.
So I joined a phone-banking group mostly composed of people who had supported Bernie in the primaries and who don't love Biden, but who also don't want to see fascism overtake America. Appropriately named "The Misfits," the group tried to take a lighter approach to what wound up being a difficult process that proved what everyone already knows: America is bitterly divided.
After a quick training on my first day, we were sent off into the wilderness of Pennsylvania to contact random voters. I would say that around 30% of the time I talked to Biden voters, 30% were Trumpers, 10% were bots or trolls, and 10% were genuinely undecided voters. Here are five of the main types of people I encountered.
Type 1: The Undecided Voter
For those of us who are deeply enmeshed in politics, it can be incredibly difficult to imagine that anyone is still undecided. Biden voters who believe in climate change and devour the New York Times are as unlikely to change their minds as Fox News and Q-Anon devotees.
Those of us who hate Trump tend to really hate him, and we find it incomprehensible that anyone could admire or want to see more of this man–this disgusting, crude, weak little man who has allowed America to collapse into a pandemic and who has given up even trying to stop it. Trump supporters—well, we'll get to Trump supporters a little later.
But some voters are actually undecided. Several people I talked to sounded like they hadn't really thought much about the election at all. I couldn't know what they were experiencing on the other end of the line, but the truth is that not everyone has the time or energy to pour over political headlines each day.
Others had considered both candidates carefully and weren't pleased with either. Some people expressed a deep dislike and lack of faith in both Trump and Joe Biden, and were considering whether to vote at all.
Usually with these folks, I would start by asking if they believe in climate change in order to figure out if I had contacted a disgruntled Bernie supporter. If so, I would try to tell them that I, too, was not madly in love with Biden, but he represents by far the best chance to pass policies that will keep our planet and our people safe.
With a Biden presidency, I would say to undecided voters, progressive groups and people-first candidates at least have a chance to make serious moves on climate legislation and affordable healthcare. With a Biden presidency, the amazing down-ballot candidates we will elect in New York and across the country will actually be able to fight for the good of their communities. Biden has changed his platform a lot during the race thanks to pressure from progressive groups, and he represents an opportunity to actually make our world better.
I have known Joe Biden for many years. Despite our our differences, I can vouch for his decency and his belief in o… https://t.co/D7FuIp8J2U— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders)1603575900.0
In the best cases, it seemed like some of these people listened as I told them about how scared I was to see my birth state of California engulfed in wildfires, how much I wanted the pandemic to end, and how voting is also about voting for down-ballot candidates who actually are parts of their communities.
Some were willing to listen and others were not. And of course, some had made up their mind to be apathetic a long time ago. The most difficult to persuade, in my opinion, were the ones who had already given up hope.
If Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Cornel West and Naomi Klein are telling you to get it together and vote for Biden, a… https://t.co/MEwUNTi5F6— Jon Frosch (@Jon Frosch)1603862229.0
Type 2: The Depressed Conservative
I tend to think of liberals (and progressives, in particular) as the more concerned, upset, generally emotional side of the political spectrum. I still think this is true, but what I hadn't considered was that conservatives, on the whole, may actually be more depressed.
I came to this conclusion after speaking to several people who told me they were voting for Trump, and when I asked them why, they expressed a deep sense of apathy and even depression.
Like progressives, many Trump supporters I spoke to professed their belief that "the system" is broken; but unlike Biden, they did not appear to be remotely hopeful that the system could be fixed. Everywhere, there was evasion of blame. "People can't change the climate," said one angry climate denier. For her, climate change was an inevitability that she had no power over; she was, I realized, totally hopeless.
Joe Biden: #ClimateChange is ‘number one issue facing humanity’ "Biden has a $2 trillion plan that puts the U.S. o… https://t.co/rqhHXLZNRZ— Peter Strachan (@Peter Strachan)1603575939.0
Another Trump supporter I talked to believed in climate change, somehow, but also was convinced that "China" and "India" are inevitably going to destroy the world via emissions anyway so nothing America does matters. (Nevermind the fact that America is a centerpiece of the global economy, and that China has already implemented aggressive climate policies, etcetera).
What struck me about these people—admittedly a small, non-representative subsection of Pennsylvanians who picked up their phones at 8PM on a Tuesday—was their overarching sense of hopelessness, their feeling of smallness, their belief that the world could not be changed.
Because of this, I soon began to feel a bit of gratitude for the left's perpetual anxiety and fear. I thought: At least we believe in something. At least we're alive.
Type 3: The Family Follower
Another thing I noticed about Trump supporters I spoke to was that they often cited members of their families as the reasons they supported Trump. One man who I talked to for over 20 minutes said that he was voting for Trump because his parents were, but beneath that reasoning was a pit of nihilism and unhappiness that I suspected wasn't related to Trump at all.
Another Trump supporter to whom I presented my California wildfires story spoke for a long time about her husband, who was from (and loved) California. He had recently passed away, he had supported Trump, and she was going to vote for Trump no matter what because of him.
I'm not including these stories in an attempt to make a radical appeal for the humanity of Trump supporters, or to advise that our political differences will be solved if we all love each other a bit more. Trump and his policies have put and will put infinite numbers of lives at risk. This, of course, is part of the problem: People may support a candidate for emotional reasons, but our votes have very real political consequences on people's lives.
"A president who doesn't believe in science puts American lives at risk." —@PeteButtigieg reminding you that Biden… https://t.co/8kZKmptMqr— DJ Koessler (@DJ Koessler)1603460262.0
Instead, I mean to emphasize that Trumpism, judging by the Pennsylvanian voters I spoke to, feels like a demographic rooted in a deep, often suppressed allegiance to despair and a willingness to follow along with family members' wishes above all reason.
Type 3: The Hunter Biden-Obsessed Riot-Fearing Trumper
This will come as no surprise to anyone, but when I asked Trump supporters why they supported him, they cited two things: China and "the riots."
"The riots" were a major reason people were supporting Trump (nevermind the fact that "the riots" all took place, and continue to take place, under Trump). Black Lives Matter and Antifa are dangerous terrorist groups to these people—never mind the fact that right-wingers have been exposed for plans to kidnap and kill Gretchen Whitmer and to shoot Joe Biden in his home all within the past few weeks, or that the vast majority of protests, protestors, and Black Lives Matter organizers were peaceful (or that they happened under Trump, not Biden). Of course, one of these talking points will appeal to hardcore Trumpers—people who are obsessed with Hunter Biden and China will go down with that ship.
And in truth, shaming and blaming will never change someone's mind. Basic human psychology tells us that in order to change minds, we have to make people think they come to certain conclusions themselves.
When we argue about political issues, "The disagreement isn't really about politics. It's about psychology—about how we see the world differently," says Elizabeth Bernstein, a psychologist who is a Democrat married to a Republican. "Manifest content is what you think you're talking about. In this case, that is politics. Latent content is what you're really talking about, which is feelings and what the disagreement, or the act of disagreeing itself, stirs up." When actually talking to people (as opposed to getting in comment wars with them or writing smear pieces about them), we're often confronted by the presence of latent content and deeper emotional reasonings that get lost.
Regardless, hardcore Trumpers aren't the people who we should be appealing to in these last vital weeks of the election. My mind has blanked out some of the crueler comments people said over the phone, so I can't relate them here, but the conversations often left me exhausted. At one point, one caller (almost definitely a troll—I hope) confessed to a murder while on the telephone. Sometimes, people are just too far gone.
Type 4: The Biden Supporter Who Needs a Nudge
I have no doubt that Joe Biden can win the election, but I also believe that two critical populations remain: undecided voters and people who don't know how to vote.
This year, we may face incredible odds at the polls. The absentee ballot and voting processes are unnecessarily complicated in some places—in Pennsylvania, for example, you have to put your ballot inside the two envelopes provided. If you send it in just one envelope, it will be disqualified. Reports of faulty ballots have already popped up in Brooklyn.
Phonebanking is really about reaching people who want to vote but need some extra help. I spoke to one woman who hadn't known she could have her 93-year-old mother fill out an absentee ballot. When the votes come in, I'll think of them. And I'll remember, like the dangerous Antifa member I am: There is hope.
Type 5: The Biden Supporter Looking To Take Action
I didn't have very long conversations with most staunch Biden supporters, because most of those people were all ready to vote or had already voted. Normally, I'd just thank them profusely and move on. If anything, I'd try to ask these people if they were willing to contact a few friends about voting, or if they were willing to make some calls themselves.
So, if you've made it this far and if you are a Biden supporter who is definitely going to vote but still wants to help, it's your time to try phone banking! It's a truly rewarding, strangely addictive experience that can make a real difference.
Six days until Election Day. #ShowThemTheWay #IVoted https://t.co/w5Th2gJEvH— Stevie Nicks (@Stevie Nicks)1603911558.0
We are one week out from the election, and so if you haven't phonebanked yet, now is the time to start. In many ways, it's interesting, getting to listen to people living their real lives. The calls are, if nothing else, ways to connect to other humans. (Many of us have been quite isolated during this quarantine including myself). Also, there are few things like the high of getting someone to commit to voting who wasn't going to before. Type 4 is definitely the most satisfying type of person to call, because it feels like you're actually doing something—and this happens more than you might think.
So: Visit joebiden.com/call, sign up for a Sunrise Movement phonebank, check out your local Indivisible chapter or look up any activist organization—most likely they're also out there making calls. Let's win this thing.
Does your voter plan include voting by mail or voting absentee? 👏 Learn how to track your ballot in your state to… https://t.co/q0MMj35oKF— Rock the Vote (@Rock the Vote)1603910705.0
While most of America teeters on the edge of a fascist abyss, Maine has given democracy a much needed upgrade with the switch to ranked choice voting.
Maine will officially become the first-ever state to use ranked-choice voting for a presidential election, the state's Supreme Court ruled this September.
This will allow voters to rank each presidential candidate in order of preference for the November election. Voters will now be able to rank all five presidential candidates that will appear on the ballot, which include Republican President Donald Trump, Democrat Joe Biden, Libertarian Jo Jorgensen, Green Party candidate Howard Hawkins, and Rocky De La Fuente of the Alliance Party. But why is ranked choice voting such a big deal?
How Does It Work?
Ranked Choice Voting is also known as instant-runoff voting (IRV), the alternative vote (AV), or preferential voting. In ranked choice voting, instead of only voting for one candidate, voters can rank the candidates in order of preference. You can rank as many or as few of the candidates as you like and leave the rest blank. If any candidate has more than half of the vote based on first-choices, that candidate wins. If not, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their votes are redistributed to their second-choices. The process repeats until one candidate has a majority.
Former Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate, Evan Falchuk, explains that ranked choice voting is essentially the same idea as runoff elections. "You hold an election one day, and then you see how the votes come out, and then you eliminate the candidates that didn't meet whatever the threshold is, and then you hold another election. With ranked choice voting, you do that instantaneously," he stated. Maine's new policy is essentially a more efficient way to hold multiple rounds of elections at the same time.
Ranked Choice VotingWilliam Hessian
This system was successfully used by all voters in four states in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries, and is used for local elections in more than 15 US cities and the state of Maine. Even some of the biggest critics of RCV agree it's better than our current system.
But what does this actually mean for elections? Elections have become increasingly unreliable at selecting policymakers who are representative of and supported by their constituents. But RCV eliminates a few of the common problems that exist in our current system. It makes third parties viable, it enables winners that actually have majority support, and it reduces polarization and negative campaigning.
Benefit # 1: RCV Makes 3rd Parties Viable
The majority of the country uses a system called winner-take-all voting or first-past-the-post voting. In this system, voters each have a single vote which they can cast for a single candidate. Whoever gets a plurality of the votes wins all of the representation. Winner-take-all voting systems naturally trend towards two parties. This is mainly because voters feel that they have to strategically vote for candidates who have the best chance of winning so that they don't "waste their vote."
Yet third parties still run for president every four years, and every four years they lose. Sometimes they gain a fair amount of votes, but even then, they are accused of being spoilers.
The spoiler effect is when a third party candidate's presence in the election draws votes from a major-party candidate similar to them, thereby causing a candidate dissimilar to them to win the election. The more popular a third party candidate, the less likely someone who has similar beliefs is to win.
The Spoiler Effect@The_Factivists
The spoiler effect is particularly relevant in close elections like the 2000 presidential race. Many people think that Democrat Al Gore lost the 2000 Presidential Election to Republican George W. Bush because some voters on the left voted for Ralph Nader of the Green Party. If even 1% of Nader's Floridian supporters had chosen to vote for environmentalist Gore over Texas oilman Bush, Gore would have been elected president.
RCV eliminates this issue. Voters can feel confident voting for a third party candidate, even one they think is unlikely to win, without fear of being a spoiler. Say you live in Maine and you think Green Party candidate Howard Hawkins is awesome, you think Joe Biden is just okay, but most of all you want Donald Trump to lose. Normally, most people would tell you to just suck it up and vote for Biden, because Howard Hawkins is never going to win and it's more important to prevent Trump from winning. With RCV you can confidently rank Hawkins as your first choice and Biden as your second, and you can know that if Hawkins loses, your vote will still be put to good use.
This allows third parties to form and grow because voters can vote for the candidate they like the most without worrying that they will help elect the candidate they like least. If it were implemented across America, RCV may not lead to many third party wins in the first few years, because America is firmly entrenched in a two party system. However, RCV allows third parties to gain real footholds and eventually even majority support.
Benefit #2: RCV Enables Majority Support
One of the biggest problems with our current election system is that in order to win candidates only need a plurality of the vote, not a majority. A plurality just means that a candidate received more votes than everyone else, whereas a majority is 51%. This is not a problem when there are only two candidates, but any time there are more than two this becomes a concern.
Too often, candidates win elections despite being opposed by the majority of voters. In elections with more than two candidates, candidates can and do win even when less than half of voters support them.
This lack of majority support is part of what pushed voters in Maine towards adopting a new system. For example, in Maine, nine of the eleven gubernatorial elections between 1994 and 2014 were won with less than 50% of voters' support. Maine governors with low winning percentages include Angus King, who won the governorship in 1994 with just 35% of the vote; John Baldacci, who won in 2006 with just 38.1% of the vote; and Paul LePage, who won in 2010 with 37.6% of the vote.
Smallest Winning Percentages for Gubernatorial Candidates Since 1990US Election Atlas
These low percentage wins are not unique to Maine. A recent win in the Massachusetts Fourth Congressional District Democratic primary made headlines when Jake Auchincloss won with only 22.5% of the vote.
RCV has the potential to resolve these issues. With RCV, a candidate can only be declared a winner if they have received 51% of the vote. It's true that not every voter will get to see their first choice candidates win, but a majority of voters will see a candidate they at least somewhat agree with in office. If a voter's first choice is eliminated, their vote instantly goes to their second choice. That way, we can find out which of the top candidates actually has the most support.
All that being said, RCV will elect a majority winner—so long as that majority winner actually exists in the election. In RCV you only have to rank as many candidates as you like. This can result in something called exhausted ballots. Ballot exhaustion occurs as part of RCV when a voter has ranked only candidates that have been eliminated even though other candidates remain in the contest. For instance if your ballot just ranks the Green Party and Libertarian Party candidates, but you decided not to rank any of the major party candidates, it's very possible that both of the candidates you voted for will be eliminated therefore your vote won't end up counting in the final round. RCV makes a majority more likely but no single-winner voting method can guarantee a majority in every election, including RCV.
Benefit #3: Decreased Political Polarization
Americans are more polarized today than ever before. A 2019 Pew poll asked partisan voters to rate their feelings towards the opposite party on a thermometer-style scale. The results showed that Americans feel increasingly negative toward the party they oppose. In March 2016, before the election, 61% of Democrats gave Republicans a cold rating and 69% of Republicans gave Democrats a cold rating (a thermometer rating of 0-49). By 2019, those numbers had significantly increased, 79% of Democrats and 83% of Republicans rated the other party coldly.
Yet the results from the bipartisan Battleground Poll from October 2019 reported that 8 in 10 Americans say that "compromise and common ground should be the goal for political leaders."
Democrats and Republicans agree only to disagreeGary Markstein
Ranked choice voting could help bridge America's widening political divide by changing how elections work. This is partly because RCV decreases negative campaigning and partisan politicking. When a politician needs second-choice votes to win, they're incentivized to promote their own policies rather than tear down their opponents. And they are incentivized to focus on the beliefs they have in common with other candidates rather than the small policy difference s.
In RCV contests, candidates do best when they reach out and positively influence as many voters as possible–including those who support their opponents. This gives constituents more power and major parties less power. With RCV, candidates can't write off any voter as "unreachable"; they must genuinely try to appeal to voters who are openly voting third party. This means that in order to gain those second choice votes, major parties will have to look at the third parties close to them and adjust their platforms accordingly.
A 2016 study on campaign civility in local RCV elections found that voters viewed campaigns as more civil than they did in cities without RCV. The study concluded that "people in cities using preferential voting were significantly more satisfied with the conduct of local campaigns than people in similar cities with plurality elections." They added, "People in cities with preferential voting were also less likely to view campaigns as negative, and less likely to respond that candidates were frequently criticizing each other."
Our current voting system really only does one thing really well: fuel America's two-party system, a system that is divisive, outdated, and makes voters feel like their votes don't count. When voters feel like their votes count, they show up and they participate. In the words of Elizabeth Warren, RCV's latest champion, "That's a stronger democracy."
Congratulations, Maine; this is a huge step in the right direction. Now let's hope we see similar changes across America—before it's too late.
In 2016, 43% of eligible voters—nearly 100 million Americans—didn't vote.
In 2018, Michelle Obama launched an initiative called When We All Vote.
Her nonpartisan organization is dedicated to closing the race and age voting gaps, getting young people to the polls, and making the voting process more accessible and appealing to all.
Partners included Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monáe, Chris Paul, Faith Hill, Selena Gomez, Liza Koshy, Megan Rapinoe, Shonda Rhimes, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, and Rita Wilson, as the organization engaged with millions of voters prior to the 2018 election. Hosting over 2,500 in-person events led to 2018's boundary-breaking turnout.
In 2020, when in-person organizational opportunities are largely off the table, When We All Vote is focusing its energy on digital initiatives and online content. Today, Michelle announced the start of a new digital initiative called Vote Loud, which aims to reach and inspire young people in order to get them to the polls on Election Day.
Announced the day after National Voter Registration Day, Tuesday, September 23rd, Vote Loud aims to reach young voters—specifically BIPOC voters between the ages of 18 and 24—by meeting them where they are: on the Internet.
So far, the organization has partnered with a variety of celebrities to create bite-sized video content. Gaten Matarazzo starred in a video about the environment, Lisa Koshy spoke out about healthcare. Khalid created videos about taxes and thugs, and Becky G spoke on women's issues.
Your Voice | Environment www.youtube.com
Your Voice | Taxes www.youtube.com
Your Voice | Thugs www.youtube.com
Your Voice | Immigration www.youtube.com
Your Voice | Protesting www.youtube.com
The organization is also working with brands like Gucci Changemakers, WarnerMedia, and Houseparty in order to reach additional voters. As part of the initiative, Houseparty is releasing a new game called Pick Me! that will encourage users to vote.
"We've got to do a better job of speaking directly to the motivations and unique challenges that young and first-time voters face around voting," Michelle Obama said. "That's a big part of the reason why I created When We All Vote—to spark important conversations, share critical resources, and make sure people get registered and get out to vote. It's up to all of us to encourage and work with the next generation to really change the culture around voting."
Another influential political figure also made a call for young voters recently: In a new video, Senator Bernie Sanders made an impassioned plea for young voters to get to the polls.
Young People Can Transform This Election
"I am 79, and I am angry. If I were 18 or 20, I would be very, very, very angry," Sanders said. "I would be angry that I can't afford to go to college. Or I'm leaving school deeply in debt. I would be furious that we have a president who demonizes the Latino community...I would be angry that I can't afford healthcare or I can't afford decent housing."
Sanders continued, "And what you have heard from all our wonderful panelists and great organizations is that the future of our country and in fact the future of the entire world rests with the younger people. They are a beautiful generation, a progressive generation. A compassionate generation. And what we have to do now in the next six weeks is to make sure that everyone in that generation registers to vote, gets their friends, co-workers, family members out to vote, and when we do that...we can rethink America...and create a government and a nation that works for all of us."
In 2016, 43% of eligible voters—nearly 100 million Americans—didn't vote. The United States also has one of the lowest rates of youth voter turnout in the world, according to Forbes. Initiatives like When We All Vote aim to change this, but they face a variety of challenges.
Statistics show that marginalized communities and young voters face the highest barriers to voting. Voter suppression and disenfranchisement are ongoing problems, and the COVID-19 pandemic will make voting even more complicated this year. Many people will also be voting absentee, a process that requires (among other tedious steps) successfully mailing multiple letters and meeting a variety of deadlines.
Research shows that today's young people are mobilized and ready to make their voices heard. Now all that's left to do is actually get the people to the polls.
#SaveTheUSPS? Budget cuts and reforms have made it difficult for the Post Office, a beloved American institution to do its job.
The United States Post Office is under attack.
Direct attacks from the president, COVID-19, government failure to provide aid, and a radical new postmaster general have all contributed to what's shaping up to be a veritable disaster for American mail—one that might have consequences for the upcoming November election.
The Postal Service's Opponents: COVID-19, Trump, DeJoy, and Money
2020 has been extremely difficult for most people and businesses, and the USPS, which reported a $3 billion loss in the last three months, is no difference. Democrats proposed giving the postal service $25 billion in aid as part of their latest coronavirus stimulus package, which stalled to a standstill in Congress due to partisan divides. Without significant aid, the USPS has suffered intensely during the COVID-19 pandemic—and so have its customers.
In addition to the fact that the postal service provides necessary services to millions across America every day–and it is now responsible for delivering vital products to Americans trying to social distance and end this pandemic–it will be responsible for perhaps the most important job ever: carrying the millions of mail-in ballots that are sure to be cast in 2020 to the appropriate destination.
More Americans than ever before are projected to vote by mail in the 2020 election, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some polls have shown that Trump's supporters are more likely to vote in person, whereas Democrats are more likely to vote by mail, while others show that there is no partisan divide between who votes by mail and who does not.
Still, many of Trump's opponents, who fear he is attempting to sabotage the election by shutting down the postal service and forcing people to choose between their health and democracy, are terrified.
The postal service has, therefore, found itself an unwitting political punching bag.
President Donald Trump has never hid his disdain for the Post Office. Recently, he's begun to argue that voting by mail—the safest way to vote during COVID-19—will lead to fraud.
Americans Fight for the Post Office & Obama Speaks Out | The Daily Social Distancing Show www.youtube.com
This claim has been proven false, but of course Trump doesn't care. Still, it's clear that the postal service could easily manage an election if it was allowed to continue as it had been for over 200 years. "If — and that's a big IF — allowed to do its work, the US Postal Service can easily handle the surge of mail that might result from 150 million Americans choosing to vote by mail this fall rather than vote in person," writes Jesse Jackson for the Chicago Sun Times. The postal service normally handles around 500 million letters per day.
The problem is that the postal service is not being allowed to do its work. COVID-19 was incredibly difficult, but the postal service was able to keep things somewhat under control until Louis DeJoy entered the scene.
Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General
At the center of all this is Louis DeJoy, who was appointed the new postmaster general in June. Notably, DeJoy, a multimillionaire, is a top GOP donor and was the chairman of fundraising for the Republican National Convention last year.
Since he was appointed, DeJoy has made some changes. His "reforms," all imposed without any public consultation or discussion with employees, include cutting hours, reducing overtime, and removing mail processing equipment. The USPS also recently announced that it will not treat ballots as priority mail without first-class postage.
In short, DeJoy's "reforms" are slowing down the mail.
"It was clear to me that his goal was to dismantle the post office brick by brick," @SenSchumer says about Postmast… https://t.co/u9xbkjBHTD— New Day (@New Day)1597754622.0
Over the past few months, the Post Office has reported delays in receiving prescription medications and other necessary goods, delays that have increased thanks to DeJoy's new policies.
The Post Office's sudden decline has also already harmed elections, with some voters in Wisconsin and Michigan never receiving the absentee ballots they requested in advance and with New York postal service employees rejecting ballots that did not have the appropriate postage.
Postal service employees themselves are extremely confused by the "reforms." "If you asked me a month ago [if] the postal service handle an influx of mail-in ballots, I would have said, 'We've been through two world wars and a depression, we've been doing this for more than 200 years,'" said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers' Union, to The Guardian. "Now, I'm not so sure."
Trump's administration has already announced that they want to privatize the Post Office, selling it off to private companies. DeJoy—who has million-dollar investments in competitors to the Post Office—has a reason to support these plans.
Democrats are attempting to take action. Nancy Pelosi recently called lawmakers back to the House to vote on legislation dedicated to protecting the postal service. They're currently voting on the Delivering America Act, which bans changes to the post office implemented after January 1st, 2020.
Democratic leaders are also calling on DeJoy to testify in court, demanding an explanation for the "sweeping and dangerous operational changes at the Postal Service that are slowing the mail and jeopardizing the integrity of the election."
What Can We Do?
Here’s how the @APWUnational and @USPS are standing up to Trump. Clowntime is over. #SaveThePostOffice https://t.co/pVonP3Um6p— Patton Oswalt (@Patton Oswalt)1597383428.0
With #SaveTheUSPS and #SaveThePostOffice trending on Twitter recently, the hashtag needs to become a movement.
"Citizens should be mobilizing pressure across the country, with demonstrations at Post Offices in support of the service, with calls to legislators demanding action, with pressure on state and local election officials to provide the resources needed for more drop-off boxes, more hours of early voting, more polling places," continues Jackson.
It's a great time to stage protests and call legislators, who need to know the people's opinions. While civilian contributions alone won't save the Post Office (only government stimulus packages or pocket change from Jeff Bezos could do that), concerned citizens can still do our part to show the postal service that we stand with them by buying Post Office merchandise, sending letters, and rallying to support our democracy by fighting voter suppression.
I sent two letters back in autumn, you must not’ve got em, there prolly was a problem at the post office or somethi… https://t.co/AWMj9XWoma— Ramp Capital (@Ramp Capital)1597760945.0
wrote about the post office and the harris birther stuff and that bonkers axios trump interview and how it’s exhaus… https://t.co/QLobkNFMsT— Charlie Warzel (@Charlie Warzel)1597758223.0
Trump's latest tweet has sparked questions across the nation.
Of all the senseless tweets we've had to make sense of since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016, one of the most alarming went out on July 30th.
The tweet reads: "With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"
With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT E… https://t.co/VcSCg7IPwj— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1596113169.0
For obvious reasons, many people around the world reacted strongly to the suggestion that Trump may try to delay the election. It's long been speculated that President Trump will dispute election results should he lose in November 2020, and this tweet seems to support the idea that Trump is priming his followers to question the validity of the results.
Does Trump have the power to delay the election?
Luckily, Trump does not actually have the power to delay the election, and it's incredibly unlikely that Congress would allow a delay.
By law, the presidential election is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. For that date to be changed, both houses of Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate) would need to approve the delay. The constitution is very clear on the matter of election date change, and Congress would have to undertake the arduous process of amending the constitution in order to change the date.
As The New York Times points out, "Article II of the Constitution empowers Congress to choose the timing of the general election. An 1845 federal law fixed the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. It would take a change in federal law to move that date. That would mean legislation enacted by Congress, signed by the president and subject to challenge in the courts."
Prominent law experts have also spoken out and confirmed that Trump doesn't have the power to move the election, including Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias.
🚨Trump cannot delay the election. Only Congress, through a new law could do so. In any event, per the US Constituti… https://t.co/XTupQVZsZ9— Marc E. Elias (@Marc E. Elias)1596114116.0
Is universal mail-In voting a bad idea?
Not at all. In fact, mail-in voting has been a major part of elections since the Civil War when soldiers voted by mail from the battle field. Voter fraud is extremely rare in any case.
According to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice, incident rates of voter fraud in mail-in situations are between .0003% and .0025% nationwide. Oregon, the first state to institute universal mail in voting in 2000, have only documented about a dozen cases of proven fraud in the last two decades. According to The New York Times, "Numerous studies have shown that all forms of voting fraud are very rare in the United States. A panel that Mr. Trump established to investigate election corruption was disbanded in 2018 after it found no real evidence of fraud. Experts have said that voting by mail is less secure than voting in person, but it is still extremely rare to see broad cases of voter fraud."
Does mail-in voting disproportionately benefit the Democratic party?
It's unlikely. As the Brooking Institute points out, "The first state to adopt a universal mail-in ballot program was Oregon in 2000. Shortly after it was enacted, Adam J. Berinsky, Nancy Burns, and Michael W. Traugott sought to explore the impact of the new law. They found that voting by mail did not bring substantial numbers of new voters into electorate, nor did it have any effect on whether the electorate was more Democratic or more Republican. The only effect they found was that it helped keep regular voters in the electorate."
A Stanford study on the subject found: "(1) vote-by-mail does not appear to affect either party's share of turnout; (2) vote-by-mail does not appear to increase either party's vote share; and (3) vote-by-mail modestly increases overall average turnout rates, in line with previous estimates. All three conclusions support the conventional wisdom of election administration experts and contradict many popular claims in the media."
In summary, it is incredibly unlikely that Donald Trump will be successful in delaying the election, and he is incorrect about mail-in voting being subject to widespread voter fraud.
Check out this helpful graphic for more information:
And Their Jobs Owe Them Money for It.
Election day is here.
Not the big one that the whole county is obsessed with—that's still a year away. This is the little one in which your voice can actually make a difference.
All across the country, on Tuesday November 5th, local elections and special elections give a voice to the tiny fraction of voters who will actually show up. Historically speaking, these are likely to be aging voters who no longer work or have the luxury to set their own schedules. Historically speaking, young people have allowed the local government to be ruled by this privileged and aberrant minority of voters, even as their interests and agendas have drifted further from the cultural center. Historically speaking, we've thrown our power away—and not just our power, we've been throwing away paid time off work!
This is not like us. Aren't we the generation of entitled slackers who use any excuse to skip work? Is that just a myth created by baby boomers to make us sound way cooler—and therefore more threatening—than we actually are? In almost every state in the US, your boss is legally required to give you time off on election day to go vote! And in most states, that time off is paid!
In New York, any employee scheduled to work on Election Day is allowed three hours paid time off. In California, it's two hours. So why would you give away your labor? Find out where your polling place is, and figure out how long it takes to get there. If it's less than the time you're getting paid for, have you considered walking? If there's one thing better than a lovely Autumn stroll in the afternoon sun, it's getting your boss to pay for it.
What getting paid could look like on TuesdayShutterstock
Along with the countless municipal elections that will otherwise be decided by retirees, there are a number of state-level races worth watching, from the Virginia state legislature elections, which could flip both houses, to the effort to reinstate affirmative action measures in Washington state. In New York, several ballot measures have been getting attention, in particular the issue of ranked-choice voting, which will go into effect in 2021 if the voters choose it tomorrow.
Would you rather that decision be made by people who might not live to see it take effect? Or would you rather you and all your friends get a half-day to go vote? Remember how much you love half-days? So, take one! Spend ten minutes on ballotpedia, then take three hours off work.
Even if you think electoralism is a joke, and you devote your life to activism that will tear down the state and rebuild it from scratch, elections can build enthusiasm and political engagement. If anything, show up and write in "voting is for chumps." Maybe a surprising turnout of young people will get some more people to start the long process of waking up to to political realities. Maybe some candidates will notice the demographics and start shifting their politics to appeal to people like you. It could happen!
Or maybe you'll just get a paid afternoon off, and watch your boss try—and fail—to argue with the law. Win-win.
Can the Democratic establishment get it right this time?
With the first Democratic primary still about eight months away, the Democratic party establishment appears prepared to throw all of their weight behind Joe Biden.
To hear MSNBC or CNN tell the story, Joe Biden has been the Democratic party's frontrunner since before he even declared his candidacy. Whether or not this is entirely true, however, is debatable. Misleading polls are being conducted and then misrepresented by many liberal news outlets as a means of solidifying Uncle Joe's frontrunner status early on in hopes of swaying voters toward the "more electable" candidate in the primaries. If Joe Biden can be made to look like he actually has the best chance of clinching the nomination or winning against Trump in a general election, then, voters will be more likely to vote for him as the safe bet.
IVN, or the Independent Voters Network, self-described as "a platform for unfiltered political news and policy analysis from independent-minded authors," has highlighted the biased nature of many political polls. IVN writer, Rudolpho Cortes Barragan reports:
"FiveThirtyEight, which is owned by ABC/Disney, functions as a sort of gatekeeper for polling, and polls are extremely important for candidacies. The public is told that polls judged as A+ by FiveThirtyEight are to be seen as real bellwethers of popular opinion. In reality, 'the polls' are manufactured to produce the results that the pollsters (and their corporate funders) want to see."
Barragan goes on to cite a recent Mammoth University poll as evidence. "The results showed Biden 9 percentage points ahead of Sanders," he writes, "but if you look closely you will see that more than 70% of the people polled are over the age of 50. Any honest person would be able to tell you that the 2020 electorate will be far younger than 50." The data is seldom presented within its full context on mainstream news outlets like MSNBC or CNN, and instills in voters a false sense of Biden's electability and props him up as the "safe" vote.
If this sounds eerily familiar, it's because the same thing happened in 2016. Hillary Clinton, like Biden, was prematurely propped up as the most electable candidate, even though an anti-establishment candidate like Bernie Sanders may have stood a better chance against Trump's "outsider" persona, which resonated with many voters (particularly across the midwest). This was proven in the wake of Trump's victory when analyses showed that many Bernie supporters either did not vote in the general election or jumped on the Trump ticket, preferring the radical change suggested by Trump's "drain the swamp" narrative over Clinton's years of experience as a politician.
Joe Biden, like Clinton, is firmly rooted in the Democratic establishment. While Trump's approval rating has wavered over the last few years, hitting its low at 35% in 2017, it has remained around 40 to 45% — a number that should be alarming for Democrats going into 2020, as there have been only three single-term presidents since World War II.
Either way, the Democratic party and its voters must avoid making the same mistakes if there is any hope of preventing a Trump reelection. Poll manipulation was not the only issue in the 2016 election. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) was also exposed for unfairly tipping the scales toward Clinton in 2016, effectively rigging the primary against Bernie Sanders.
Donna Brazile, former interim chair of the DNC, revealed in her book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, the nefarious– although not technically illegal, according to US District Judge William J. Zloch, who dismissed a class action lawsuit against the DNC – actions of the Committee.
"Hillary would control the party's finances, strategy, and all the money raised," writes Brazile. "Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings."
It's unclear whether the DNC's current chair, Tom Perez, will run an honest and fair ship as we approach the 2020 election cycle. Perez held the position of labor secretary during the Obama administration, and Biden publicly threw his support behind Perez during his campaign for DNC chair; whereas Sanders preferred Keith Ellison, who lost by a narrow margin. Only time will tell if Perez will tip the scales in Biden's favor due to their favorable history together, but the Democratic party is no stranger to nepotism, so Perez – especially in light of 2016 – should be watched carefully in the months to come.
Even if the DNC does run a fair election this time around, electing Joe Biden would be a grave mistake. A mistake that the party already made last time around in the form of gifting the primary to Hillary Clinton. This election will not be one for tepid, center-of-the-road policies. We've already seen how an establishment centrist performs against Donald Trump. The Democratic party must embrace and adopt the progressive push to the left provided by candidates like Sanders and others if they have any hope of winning in 2020. Playing politics as usual will cost the Democratic party, and the nation, another four years of a Donald Trump White House.
How the voting systems around the world differ from country to country
There are many different voting systems in the world that vary in large or small ways from one another. Here are some of the most popular, explained. These three systems make up the majority of the world's election processes and can be used for larger and smaller elections.
First, some vocab
Plurality: The Candidate with the most votes wins, doesn't need to be a majority.
Examples: United States, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, India, etc.
Two Round System: Similar to plurality but a winner needs the majority. If there is no majority in the first round of voting then there will be a second with the 2 leading candidates.
Examples: France, Iran, Mali, Vietnam, etc.
List Proportional Voting: Multi-winner system where political parties nominate candidates and electors vote for preferred party or candidate. The governmental seats are given to each party in proportion to the votes they receive.
Examples: Spain, Morocco, Russia, Brazil, Angola, etc.
A Deeper Look into Certain Election Processes
French Presidents serve for 5 year terms and are elected using a run off voting system which involves two rounds of elections. If someone doesn't win the majority in the first round then the top contenders run against each other in the second. France does not have a two party system and many different parties are represented in their 3 branches of government. This means that the French President could have a Prime Minister from another political party.
Both the financing and spending of French campaigns are highly regulated. All commercial advertisements are prohibited in the three months before the election. Political ads are aired for free but on an equal basis for each candidate on national television and radio. There are limits on donations and expenses that are regulated by an independent financial representative of the campaign.
General elections are held every five years with a large number of elections across the UK. In 2015, six hundred and fifty people were elected into the House of Commons and this greatly changes the standing of the parties in the government. With three major parties there is no longer a two party system. These parties are the Conservative Party formerly know as the Tories, the Liberal Democrats formerly known as the Whigs, and the Labour Party who all make up the bulk of the government along with various independents.
The party that wins the majority of seats in the House of Commons in the general election becomes the leading party. The leader of the majority party is appointed Prime Minister by the Queen. The leader of the minority party is referred to as the leader of the opposition. The Prime Minister appoints the ministries and forms the government. There are moments where the system is adapted whether the Prime Minister calls for a special early election or there is no party with a majority in the House of Commons.
UK elections limit how much campaigns can spend during certain elections, but there is no price limit for donations. This is regulated by the Electoral Commission which is an independent regulatory body. All of the parties need to keep records for the independent audit. To ensure transparency the Electoral Commission publishes party spending returns online.
A presidential candidate can be nominated by a Russian political party or by a collection of signatures in support. Similar to France, Russia has many political parties that make up their government and there is also a two round voting system. The Presidential term is 6 years and though someone can hold many terms there can only be two consecutive terms at a time. There were protests and concerns over the legitimacy of past elections.
The main political party is the United Russia Party lead by Vladimir Putin and it holds 343 seats of the 450 possible seats in their governmental body, the Duma. Other parties are the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, A Just Russia, Civic Platform, and there are independents. Members of the Duma are elected for 5 year terms.
Though spending and broadcast time is monitored and regulated there are large loopholes for the party who is in control of public resources. Opposition parties need to fund from their own resources but United Russia uses official state-funded trips, positive news reporting, and other means to avoid using personal funds.