The pandemic required every state in the nation to decide how it would revise voting procedures to allow everyone to vote safely. In every state, Democrats argued for rules that would make it easier to vote absentee and more certain that your vote would count. The fights, which are now continuing in the courts, are about how many drop boxes there would be, whether voters could drop off ballots for those who need assistance, whether witnesses would be required, whether curbside voting would be allowed, when votes must be received to be counted, how long polls will be open and what safety procedures would be practiced. Each state administers its own voting rules, and in a normal world, the number of drop boxes they choose to have would not be a federal case.
This is not a normal time. More people than ever are trying to vote remotely. And safely. The Republicans would prefer they stay away.
Across the country, Trumpers have been trying to block any changes that would make it easier for people to vote safely and to have their vote be counted. Of course, they can't stand up and say, "We don't want to change anything, because we want to make it as hard as we can to vote."
So, they say they are afraid of fraud.
They have nothing to be afraid of.
According to one of their own, respected election lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg, "four decades of dedicated investigation have produced only isolated incidents of election fraud." A study he quotes from the conservative Heritage Foundation found just 372 possible cases of illegal voting out of 14.6 million cast in the 2016 and 2018 general elections -- a 0.0025% chance.
The Republicans aren't afraid of fraud. They are afraid that the more people who vote, the more likely Joe Biden is to win. And they're probably right.
Republicans don't want new voters and inexperienced voters and more easily intimidated (minority) voters to participate. Their goal is to deny the right to vote to people they think are more likely to vote for Biden.
It has nothing to do with fraud and everything to do with the desperate measures they are taking to try to win this election.
Over 400 lawsuits have been filed across the country by both sides. The Republicans win if they can keep obstacles in place and even impose new ones. In the courts, that means finding a court that will stay the effect of any rule or other court order that makes it easier to vote: No curbside voting. No drop boxes. You must drop off your ballot. You may need a witness. And watch for the Trump people videotaping you while you drop off your ballot. Still with me?
In Philadelphia, the Trumpers claimed they had found blatant violations of the law requiring individuals to only cast one ballot unless they are acting as an agent of a voter who needs assistance.
The evidence consisted of rough photos showing three women at the Philadelphia City Hall drop box, one "with gold bangles," another with a "striped baseball hat," a third with a "face mask and a long sweater jacket depositing what appeared to be three ballots." On that basis, they were demanding lists of every voter who had voted at that drop box. The city refused the request; similar evidence has been rejected by the courts, precisely because there is no reason to presume that citizens are violating the law.
As of early next week, Democrats will lose any case that gets to the Supreme Court. Last week, an equally divided Supreme Court let stand a ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court requiring state officials to count absentee ballots received within three days of the election; it may be the last case Democrats win. Later in the week, the court stayed by a 5-3 margin a ruling by a federal district judge that would have allowed Alabama counties to adopt curbside voting. We will never know how many counties may have adopted the method we use for so many other essentials, or how many more voters might have supported Biden if they had.
You can't fight about votes that didn't get cast.
That's the whole game right now. Just don't try to convince me you're worried about fraud.
Susan Estrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.