The Republicans’ November election strategy is starting to emerge.
Yesterday the US Supreme Court made an important but lightly noticed ruling on Texas voting law. They allowed Texas to prohibit all mail-in votes except for those over 65.
I don’t think they planned it this way, but they are now starting to realize how they can take advantage of the increasing Covid-19 numbers. In Texas, which will be an important competitive state in November, only those over 65 can get a mail-in ballot. All others must vote in person. Meanwhile, with numbers spiking, there will be increased reluctance to stand in line to vote.
Combine this with closing polling stations.
Combine that with closing polling stations in mainly black or Latino neighborhoods, and you get a Republican victory in Texas, where 750 polling stations have been closed since 2012. Guess where the majority of those closed polling places are. “On a local level, the changes can be stark. McLennan county, home to Waco, Texas, closed 44% of its polling places from 2012 to 2018, despite the fact that its population grew by more than 15,000 people during the same time period, with more than two-thirds of that growth coming from Black and Latinx residents,” reports the Guardian.
Something similar has happened in other states. In the recent Georgia primary, people stood in line for over two hours waiting to vote. In that case, it was due in part to extreme confusion and outright failure of a new voting system computer program. But experts had warned about possible system failure for months in advance. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that since 2012, 214 voting precincts have been closed.
It’s similar in Wisconsin, which is another battle ground state where Biden is presently leading. The Cap Times reports that in the recent primary there “In Milwaukee, just five of the city’s usual 180 sites are open. In Green Bay, there are only two rather than the typical 31, and in Kenosha there are 10, down from 22.” Voters often had to wait on line for an hour or more.
In this scenario, the increase in Covid-19 numbers could actually work to the Republicans’ advantage since people would be even less likely to be willing to stand in line to vote.
It may be too late to outright ban mail-in ballots in other states, but making them more difficult can happen.
US Postal Service
Then there’s one other issue: The crisis of the US Postal Service (USPS). According to Politico a few Democrats originally proposed giving the USPS $30 billion in the original government bail-out act (the CARES Act), but they didn’t fight for it and in the end the USPS got one third of that amount. There are reports that the USPS may need as much as a $75 billion bail-out. The same Politico article reports that the USPS could actually stop functioning this fall or winter…. just in time to completely stop mail-in balloting altogether.
It may be that the mood is so strong against Trump that it will overcome this vote suppression and fraud. And the suspension of USPS service by November is far from certain. But this strategy seems to be their best hope.
Neither the Democrats nor their representatives in the working class – the union leadership – are saying much if anything about this. They are just proceeding merrily along like lambs to the slaughter.