CAMPAIGN JOURNAL # 15 – A tidal wave is sweeping the United States, even more impressive than expected: early voting, by mail or in person. It mostly benefits Democrats.
In 2016, 678,000 Minnesota residents voted for the presidential election before D-Day. This year, about as many voted … more than three weeks before the election. And it is not over: nearly a million citizens of this state who requested a postal ballot have not yet returned it by mail. Across the country it’s the same scene: a tidal wave ofabsentee ballots, these ballots that are returned by mail before the election or, for those who fear seeing their vote mislaid by mail, that we slip into a receptacle provided for this purpose.
Covid obliges, everyone expected a very strong increase in postal voting. What we had not expected was the impatience of Democratic voters who have been chomping at the bit for four years. And postal voting is not, for them, the only way to let off steam at the ballot box before November 3. In New York, where the victory of Joe Biden is no doubt, there are no more friends who are waiting with guns on October 24, the date from which they can vote in person in advance. In other states, this early voting has already started.
A phenomenon that has the Trump camp to worry about
“Democrats are very involved, and they vote,” says a Democratic consultant to the New York Times. “The same cannot be said of Republicans.” This is partly logical, Donald Trump having cast doubt on the postal vote, accusing him of imaginary fraud. But the scale of the phenomenon is cause for concern for the Trump camp. The more so as it is particularly marked in the key states: in Wisconsin, for example, the number of ballots already received by the county of Dane already represents more than 36% of all the vote of 2016! At the state level, one of the most disputed, five times more people have already voted by mail than in 2016.
What does this mean for Trump and the Republicans? That they took a big risk, advising their constituents to vote in person. In states affected by the coronavirus, and there are many of them, those who wait until November 3 are likely to get scared, especially in the elderly, when going to a polling station. Moreover, the fervor of Democrats to return their ballot as soon as possible risks reducing the risk of a postal traffic jam at the last minute.
Complicate yours by correspondence
Two weapons remain for the Republicans. The first is to do everything to put sticks in the wheels of Democrats, by complicating the use of postal voting. In Texas, for example, the governor decided that there could be no more than one box for depositing the ballots per county. Harris County, where Houston is located, has more than 5 million inhabitants, and said box is said to be more than 80 km from some residents … In Pennsylvania, the Republicans have sought to ban the boxes in question altogether, or yet to toughen the rules on the validity of signatures on ballots. In both states, federal judges have just invalidated these maneuvers, ruling that the risk of fraud was in no way proven (appeals are pending).
The other weapon, of course, will be to challenge the validity of these votes on election night. It could indeed wreak havoc if the election looks very close on the evening of November 3. For now, this doesn’t seem to be the case, Joe Biden with an average lead of more than 10 points. But there are three weeks left …