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Election 2020: Avalanche of postal votes – and voice guards – threatens to slow results

Monitoring the counting of ballot papers is a key component of both campaigns’ legal strategies in preparing to contest ballot papers, review signatures and witness testimonies, and push to “cure” invalid ballot papers in states where it is permitted. If a battlefield state becomes a fierce competition, the fight could end up in the courts.

The role of the pollsters, which includes trained volunteers and lawyers, is to document all the details and contest a vote if there is a potential problem. While their presence is not new, election experts fear that the extra oversight – combined with an influx of mail-in polls – could lead to unnecessary delays that foster doubt and chaos if it is a close choice that hangs on the mail. in. vote to determine the outcome.

And with millions more people casting ballots via email thanks to the covid-1

9 pandemic – along with many states waiting to start counting those ballots until the polls close – the process could go far beyond election day.

The prospect of a delayed result comes as Trump and the White House suggest that the outcome of the presidential race should be known on election night, rhetoric that contradicts what election officials and experts are trying to prepare the public for: Voting on election night is never official, and the high percentage of mail-in polls means the results come slower, so a winner may not be known for several days, if not weeks, afterwards.

Trump has repeatedly and erroneously accused that mail-in voting would lead to widespread fraud and a “rigged” election, while White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany erroneously claimed last week that “the system should” determine a winner on election night.
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“The longer it takes to count these ballots, the more uncertainty there is, and those who spread disinformation, and even foreign opponents, can use this uncertainty to create greater divisions and diminish confidence,” said David Becker, founder of the non-partisan Center for Electoral Innovation and Research.

Republican National Committee chief Justin Riemer said the party is investing in a legal effort to ensure the process “runs smoothly” and that the law is followed.

“We are not there to stop the process. If they are to check signatures, they need to check signatures. We understand the urgency of counting ballots, but it must be done right,” Riemer told CNN. “We can not stand aside if officials do not comply with the law – an unfortunate consequence of taking action is that it can slow down the process.”

The president’s campaign goes up to lawyer

Both Democrats and Republicans have spent millions preparing for legal battles that are expected both before and after the November 3 vote closes.

The Biden campaign and the Democratic Party have put together a massive legal effort focusing on voting and electoral issues, including a “special trial” unit led by Dana Remus, the campaign’s general counsel, with hundreds of lawyers looking at state-by-state voter problems related to voter access and vote counting.

“We are monitoring these potential situations and are well prepared to respond to them as needed,” said a Biden campaign official.

The Trump campaign and the RNC have been building their own major legal apparatus with preparations underway for several months as the Covid-19 pandemic shifted focus toward absenteeism treatment and the counting of absentees. Efforts have included sending local officials questionnaires about how ballot papers will be verified and staff will be deployed.

“It is fair to say that 2020 will be the largest election observation program the party has had and the presidential campaign has had,” Riemer said. “We are prepared with volunteers and lawyers at these key counting points, starting at the time ballot papers begin to be processed.”

The potential for the two parties contesting the results may begin shortly after the vote ends. Democrats have warned that the return coming in on election night could be misleading because a higher percentage of Republican voters plan to vote in person, while more Democratic voters say they will vote by mail, according to a poll by CNN and others. .

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That means states could have Trump in front of them when voters go to bed on election night, only to see the results shift toward Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate, as more post-in votes are sent.

It is a phenomenon that arose during the midterm elections in 2018 in several close races, which caused Trump to cast doubt on the process. He tweeted that Florida “should go with the election night results” as Senate competition was tightened due to mail-in votes, and suggested that Arizona hold a new election after Democrat Kyrsten Sinema took the lead in the Senate race.

Biden said Monday he was worried Trump would try to do the same in November. When the former vice president was asked if he trusted that all votes would be counted, he told reporters: “I trust Trump will try not to make that happen, but I am convinced that the American public will insist on it. “

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How long it takes for a winner to be declared in the presidential election depends a lot on how close the election is. In modern presidential politics, a winner is usually – but not always – called on election night. In 2004, Democratic candidate John Kerry admitted only the next day, waiting for the results in Ohio to come in full. And in 2000, the presidential race stretched more than a month after Election Day thanks to a lengthy story in Florida and the court battle that followed.

RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens pointed to the 2000 story in Florida as an example of why there should not be a long delay after the election. “I do not think the 36 days it took in 2000 did anyone any favors,” Ahrens said.

‘You could really do something at work’

Several key battlefield states – Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – do not begin counting mail-in polls until election day by law, only raising stakes for a potential delay until it is known who won.

Michigan is discussing changes to its laws on counting mail-in polls. The state Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that gives election workers an extra day to process absent ballot papers; legislation is still pending in Parliament.

When the count begins, several states, such as Wisconsin, allow challengers to be close to the election official presenting the votes so they can question whether a vote is valid. Wisconsin Electoral Officer Reid Magney said the state has historically had attorneys from both sides at the central counties, such as Milwaukee and Green Bay, which are also open to the public.

“Campaigns can make people look over their shoulders,” Magney said.

But it can slow things down.

“If you have a ballot that would normally take 20-30 seconds, but it takes 1-2 minutes because someone challenges each ballot – it expands exponentially and you can really do something about it,” Becker said.

Because more mail-in votes are likely to come from Democrats, GOP advocates are likely to be able to challenge the legitimacy of mail-in votes. Such challenges may be due to a signature or a missing piece of information such as a witness signature, which is required in some states.

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Democrats, in turn, are preparing to be ready to face these Republican challenges. They are also preparing efforts to quickly “cure” ballots that are considered invalid, which can be done after election day in 13 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Electoral officers at the central counting centers are typically well-trained, Becker said, adding that campaigns need “a reasonable basis” to challenge a vote. “You must not challenge every vote,” he said.

Magney said campaign officials and the public are allowed to observe the process, but they cannot go too far. “If anyone creates a disturbance,” he said, “they could be thrown out.”

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