Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Election Day (Day 2: Wednesday (II))

The pattern of the 2020 election had been unchanged from 2016's results for 42 of the 50 states until Joe Biden was declared the winner of Wisconsin on Wednesday. 

Michigan may have also flipped, giving Biden 253 of the needed 270 electoral votes.

With less than 2% of the votes remaining to be counted, Biden leads Trump 1,630,389 to 1,609,879, a margin of only 20,510, or 0.6 percentage points. Trump narrowly won the state in 2016, the first time a Republican had won in the last eight elections, and has asked for a recount. (A recount can be requested if the margin is less than 1%.)

The Trump campaign will also file a lawsuit seeking to halt the vote count in Michigan, and intervene in existing litigation challenging Pennsylvania's decision to extend the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots. Trump's strategy (if you can even call it that) is simple. If he is ahead, he wants to stop counting legal votes. If he is behind, he wants all votes counted (or recounted). He is all but saying, "It's extremely unfair to count the votes that are not for me."

Trump prematurely declared victory early Wednesday, which is the equivalent of a baseball team running on the field celebrating a victory with two outs in the seventh inning.

Trump yapped about possible violence in Pennsylvania, after the Supreme Court allowed the state to count votes cast on or before Election Day, but not received until up to three days afterwards. That foiled one aspect of Trump's attempt to steal the election, as he installed a wealthy donor as head of the Postal Service and had him deliberately slow delivery service.

I'm very concerned about Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is known for bad things happening with voting. You know that, and it’s been known for … a long time. And I'm very concerned when the court allows you to go outside of the November 3rd date, and they allow you to do all sorts of things for an extended period of time. Bad things will happen, and bad things lead to other type things. It's a very dangerous thing for our country.

Things will happen and cause other things to happen.

Millions of votes remain to be counted in several states, including Michigan, Arizona, and Nevada. Biden holds slim leads in all three of those states and if he wins them, he won't need to win Pennsylvania, where Trump leads by about eight percentage points. More than 1.4 million mail-in ballots still need to be counted and those votes appear "to be strongly for Biden".

The Times has short recaps of the remaining states and where things stand. Arizona is not expected to announce results until 9 PM ET. Georgia expects its count to be done by the end of today. Michigan's secretary of state says "a very clear picture, if not a final picture" will be visible by tonight. In Nevada, only the late mail and provisional ballots remain to be counted, but an update will not come until 12 PM ET on Thursday.

Beneath the Washington Post's main headline ("Biden camp projects confidence while Trump team threatens legal challenges"):

Georgia — Trump's lead narrows to roughly 83,000 Wednesday afternoon as the state's most populous and Democratic counties tally their remaining votes.

Michigan — A Michigan official said unofficial election results are expected "within the next 24 hours," with about 100,000 ballots left to count.

Nevada — Counting of remaining mail and provisional ballots is underway, and updated vote totals are expected to be released Wednesday.

North Carolina — Most outstanding mail-in ballots are in the state's biggest counties, Wake and Mecklenburg. They have until Nov. 12 to arrive, if postmarked by Nov. 3.

Pennsylvania — More than 1 million ballots were still to be counted as of 2:30 p.m.

New York Times:

Republican lawyers and Trump campaign officials on Wednesday began a wide-ranging legal assault to challenge Democratic votes in key swing states [and] claim victory . . . with help from the courts.

By midday Wednesday, the Trump campaign had announced that it was suing to halt the counting of mail-in ballots in Michigan because of what it called insufficient transparency in the process. . . .

Earlier in the morning, Mr. Trump had emerged from watching returns at the White House to say, "We'll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop," a crude rendering of his campaign's legal position that was legally meaningless . . .

Trump campaign officials also indicated they were considering more legal action in Arizona and in Nevada, where the Trump campaign was already pressing a lawsuit protesting the counting process in the state's largest county. . . .

The Trump campaign indicated it was prepared for a lengthy war of legal attrition in a fund-raising appeal it sent to supporters after polls had closed, asking for money so it can "FIGHT BACK" against Democrats that the campaign claimed without evidence were trying to "steal" the election.

Many of Trump's social media posts over the last two days concerning alleged voter fraud have been tagged as containing "misleading information" by both Twitter and Facebook. In one tweet, Trump claimed he was "up big" an Democrats were trying to "steal" the election.

A group of international election observers has criticized Trump's "acrimonious campaign rhetoric" and "baseless allegations" of fraudulent ballot counts, stating he was making "deliberate attempts" to "weaken confidence in the election process".

"Nobody — no politician, no elected official, nobody — should limit the people's right to vote," said Michael Georg Link, a member of German parliament who led the lawmakers sent by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to observe a U.S. election for the ninth time. "Making sure that every vote is counted is a fundamental obligation of all branches of government. Baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent President, including on election night, harm public trust in democratic institutions."

Donald Trump made noises a few days ago about possibly firing Dr. Anthony Fauci (for telling the truth about the pandemic, which contradicts Trump's lies and magically thinking), but it is nothing but another empty threat from the Coward-in-Chief. Fauci is not a political appointee and:

is protected by federal civil service regulations that shield him from being fired or demoted for political reasons.

Fauci could be removed, but it would imply a complicated process layered with civil service protections that require the government agency to provide evidence that there is a just cause for dismissal, including failure to follow orders or misconduct.

The process to remove him would need to be initiated by someone in Fauci's chain of command, such as the director of the National Institutes of Health or the health and human services secretary, which is unlikely considering he is an esteemed figure in the scientific and medical community.

However, should that be the case, Fauci would need to be notified about what the allegation was, and he would then have the opportunity to respond and present evidence to the Merit Systems Protection Board that such action was not warranted. He could also appeal the board's decision in court.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Virginia): "Trump clearly sees one of his top priorities if he is reelected as a settling of scores with civil servants like Dr. Fauci whom he regards as insufficiently loyal."

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