- Election Day is tomorrow, but it is highly unlikely that we will know the results that same day.
- Here’s what you need to know about what we can expect to see tomorrow and in the days and weeks that follow.
Don’t Bank on a Winner
Election Day is finally near and while the results are still up in the air, there are some things that we should expect going into Tuesday.
First and foremost, the election will not end tomorrow. Do not expect a clear winner on election night. More people than ever before are voting by mail this year, and those mail-in ballots take longer for election officials to count than ballots cast at polling places.
The delay from counting absentee ballots combined with the fact that each state has different rules for how votes are counted and reported means that votes will be reported unevenly. Some states may report totals very early, perhaps even on election night. Others will take days to tally up all their results, including some of the key swing states that will ultimately decide the election.
This means that even if the election looks like it’s headed in a certain direction tomorrow, there is really no way to know who has won until those swing states are fully counted.
That point is extremely important to note because it is very likely that the election may look like it is headed towards Republicans and President Donald Trump early on. This is what’s known as a red mirage. Numerous models show that Republicans are more likely to vote in person and Democrats are more likely to vote by mail. As a result, early tallies might show a GOP-heavy lead on Election day, but the final result could shift when absentee votes are counted.
For example, in Pennsylvania, which is arguably one of the most important swing states, election officials have said that ballots will likely not fully be counted until Friday. In that time, the results will almost certainly shift significantly.
In fact, according to calculations by FiveThirtyEight, we could see a situation where Trump is ahead by upwards of 16 points on election night in the state, only for him to eventually lose thes state by five points or more once all ballots are counted— a potential 21-plus point swing.
What Trump Might Do
To that point, something else we could very possibly see is President Trump capitalizing on this red mirage to sow discord, create uncertainty, and undermine the validity of millions of ballots that arrived on or even before Election Day but simply take longer to count.
Trump advisers who have spoken to the media have even allegedly outright said this is part of his strategy.
Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that Trump advisers told the outlet “their best hope was if the president wins Ohio and Florida is too close to call early in the night, depriving Mr. Biden a swift victory and giving Mr. Trump the room to undermine the validity of uncounted mail-in ballots in the days after.”
On Sunday, Axios appeared to back that up, reporting that three sources familiar with the president’s private comments said Trump “has told confidants he’ll declare victory on Tuesday night if it looks like he’s ‘ahead’ […] even if the Electoral College outcome still hinges on large numbers of uncounted votes in key states like Pennsylvania.”
Trump denied that he would prematurely declare victory while speaking to reporters later in the day, but he also added, “We’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election’s over, we’re going in with our lawyers.”
However, it is unclear exactly what Trump’s lawyers would do. As Slate points out, while there have been many disputes over ballots that arrive after Election Day, “there has never been any basis to claim that a ballot arriving on time cannot be counted if officials cannot finish their count on election night.”
Here’s the thing: no single state fully counts their ballots on election night. Some places will not even start counting until polls close.
That is what normally happens during the general election, even without a historic amount of ballots being sent by mail, which is why these efforts by Trump and his campaign to undermine the very counting of ballots is so unprecedented.
As Slate notes: “Counting legitimate ballots is not stealing or flipping the election, and no amount of spin can make it otherwise.”
Trump, however, will likely not be the only one trying to capitalize on and spin these delays in final results. Weeks ago, the FBI warned that foriegn actors and cybercriminals will use the delays to spread disinformation about the election.
To prepare, numerous media outlets and social media platforms have emphasized their efforts to crack down on misinformation. Last month, Reuters reported that executives of major TV networks will emphasize credibility and thorough vetting of results over speed.
On Monday morning, Twitter also laid out its new policies for sharing election results, with the platform also specifically naming seven outlets it will use as credible sources to call the election.
Those outlets being ABC News, AP, CNN, CBS News, Decision Desk HQ, Fox News, and NBC News.
Any tweet posted about election results that does not cite those sources risks being labeled as misinformation, the company said.
With that in mind, remember that there are many people who would benefit in many different ways from the spread of false information. In the coming days and weeks, it is absolutely essential that you pay attention to authoritative sources, fact check any claims you see, and think carefully before sharing anything on social media.
Prepare for the Possibility of a Long Wait
As noted earlier, the election will not end tomorrow, and even once a majority of ballots are tallied, it is highly possible the election will not be decided for weeks due to court challenges.
Trump himself has said he will fight voting rules and results all the way to the Supreme Court, and according to The Times, Trump’s campaign is raising money to continue these ballot fights well into mid-December, citing the belief that “multiple states” could “require recounts.”
Experts say we can indeed expect to see many court cases, which will in turn further delay key results and possibly even the declaration of a winner. While we don’t know what will come of those legal challenges, we do know that we need to buckle down and prepare for a lot of unknowns and turmoil from now until the inauguration.
As Axios writes in its guide to safely and sanely navigating the election, “Even if you get the result you want, anticipate months of wild maneuvering and protests […] The nation is headed into a firestorm. There’s no way it’s orderly or normal, or even necessarily over when it seems over. All we can do is be smart about what’s to come, and wise in our responses.”
See what others are saying: (Slate) (Axios) (The New York Times)
Republicans Say They Will Block Bill To Avert Government Shutdown and Debt Default
Democrats argue the bill is necessary to prevent an economic catastrophe.
Democrats Introduce Legislation
Democrats in the House and Senate unveiled sweeping legislation Monday that aimed to keep the government funded through early December, lift the federal debt limit, and provide around $35 billion for Afghan refugees and natural disaster recovery.
The bill is needed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires next week. It is also necessary to prevent the Treasury Department from reaching the limit of its borrowing authority, which would trigger the U.S. to default on its debt for the first time ever.
For weeks, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged Congress to raise the federal debt limit, also known as the debt ceiling, warning that the department will soon exhaust all of its measures to keep the federal government within its legal borrowing limit.
If the U.S. were to default, it would be unable to pay its debts, sending massive shockwaves through the financial system.
Democrats have painted the bill as crucial to avert an economic doomsday that would massively undermine recovery.
They argue that the combination of a government shutdown and a debt default would destabilize global markets and leave millions of Americans without essential aid.
Republicans Vow to Oppose Raising Debt Ceiling
Despite the considerable threats, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has repeatedly said Republicans will not vote to increase the debt ceiling, arguing that Democrats should do it without their help because they are pushing trillions of dollars in new spending priorities.
Democrats have slammed the Republican leader’s stance as hypocritical. They point out that while it is true they are proposing new spending, it has not been approved yet, and the debt that currently risks default has been incurred by both parties.
Democrats also noted that trillions of dollars were added to the federal debt under former President Donald Trump, which is more than what has been added by President Joe Biden. As a result, Republicans raised the debt ceiling three times during the Trump administration with the support of Democrats.
McConnell, however, remains unlikely to budge. On Monday, White House officials said McConnell has not outlined any requests or areas of negotiation in exchange for support of the legislation.
While the bill is expected to pass the House, it appears all but doomed in the Senate, where it needs 60 votes to break the filibuster.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (Politico)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom Survives Recall
Experts say the outcome should act as a warning for Republicans who tie themselves to former President Donald Trump and attempt to undermine election results by promoting false voter fraud claims.
Recall Effort Fails
After seven months and an estimated $276 million in taxpayer money, the Republican-led effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) failed Tuesday.
Just under 70% of the votes have been reported as of Wednesday morning, showing that “no” on the recall received 63.9% of the vote. That’s nearly twice as many votes as “yes,” which had 36.1%.
According to The Washington Post, even if the margin narrows as more votes are counted, this still marks one of the biggest rejections of any recall effort in America over the last century.
Analysts say the historic rebuke was driven by high Democratic turnout and broader fears over resurging COVID cases.
While the Delta variant continues to push new infections to record highs in many parts of the country with lax mask rules and low vaccination rates, California, once a global epicenter of the pandemic, now has one of the highest vaccination rates and lowest new caseloads in the nation.
Newsom has continually tried to convince voters that those figures are the results of his vaccine and masking policies, which have been some of the most aggressive in the U.S.
Given that polls showed the pandemic was the top concern for California voters, it is clear that the majority favored his policies over those of his competitors. Larry Elder, the Republican talk radio host of led the field of 46 challengers, ran on a platform of getting rid of essentially all COVID restrictions.
In his victory speech Tuesday night, Newsom painted the recall’s failure not only as a win for Democratic coronavirus policies but also for Democracy at large.
“We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic,” he said. “We said yes to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression.”
“I think about just in the last few days and the former president put out saying this election was rigged,” he continued. “Democracy is not a football. You don’t throw it around. That’s more like a, I don’t know, antique vase. You can drop it and smashing a million different pieces. And that’s what we’re capable of doing if we don’t stand up to meet the moment and push back.”
“I said this many, many times on the campaign trail, we may have defeated Trump, but Trump-ism is not dead in this country. The Big Lie, January 6th insurrection, all the voting suppression efforts that are happening all across this country.”
A Warning for Republicans
Newsom’s remarks took aim at the efforts by Elder and other Republicans — including former President Donald Trump — who over the last week have claimed falsely and without evidence that voter fraud helped secured the governor’s win before Election Day even took place.
While it is currently unknown whether that narrative may have prompted more Republican voters to stay home, Newsom’s effort to cast Edler as a Trump-like candidate and the recall as an undemocratic, Republican power grab appears to have been effective.
Now, political strategists say that the outcome of the recall should serve as a warning that Republicans who pin themselves to Trump and his Big Lie playbook may be hurt more in certain states.
“The recall does offer at least one lesson to Democrats in Washington ahead of next year’s midterm elections: The party’s pre-existing blue- and purple-state strategy of portraying Republicans as Trump-loving extremists can still prove effective with the former president out of office,” The New York Times explained.
Even outside of a strongly blue state like California, analysts say this strategy will also be effective with similar candidates in battleground states like Georgia, Arizona, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, which will be essential to deciding control of the Senate.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (NPR)
Justice Department Sues Texas Over Abortion Ban
The department claims the Texas law violates past Supreme Court precedents on abortion and infringes on Constitutional protections.
Biden Administration Takes Aim at Texas Law
The Department of Justice sued Texas on Thursday in an attempt to block the state’s newly enacted law that effectively prohibits all abortions by banning the procedure after six weeks, before most people know they are pregnant.
The abortion law, which is the most restrictive in the country and does not provide exceptions for rape or incest, allows private citizens to take legal action against anyone who helps a person terminate their pregnancy after six weeks.
In its lawsuit, the Justice Department argued that the Texas law is unconstitutional because it violates past Supreme Court precedents through a technical loophole.
While numerous other states have passed similar laws banning abortion after about six weeks, federal judges have struck down those measures on the grounds that they are inconsistent with Roe v. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court decisions that states cannot prevent someone from seeking an abortion before a fetus can viably live outside the womb, usually around 22 to 24 weeks.
The Texas law, however, skirts the high court decisions by deputizing citizens to enforce the law rather than state government officials, taking the state out of the equation entirely and protecting it from legal responsibility.
Individuals who do so do not have to prove any personal injury or connection to those they take legal action against, which can range from abortion providers to rideshare drivers who take someone to a clinic.
If their lawsuit is successful, the citizen is entitled to a $10,000 award.
DOJ Lawsuit Targets Constitutionality
During a press conference detailing the DOJ lawsuit, Attorney General Merrick Garland referred to the enforcement mechanism as “an unprecedented” effort with the “obvious and expressly acknowledged intention” to prevent Texans from their constitutionally protected right to have an abortion.
“This kind of scheme to nullify the Constitution of the United States is one that all Americans — whatever their politics or party — should fear,” Garland said, adding that the provision of the law allowing civilians “to serve as bounty hunters” may become “a model for action in other areas, by other states, and with respect to other constitutional rights and judicial precedents.”
The Justice Department argued that the Texas policy violates equal protection guarantees under the 14th Amendment as well as the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which establishes that the Constitution and federal law generally take precedence over state law.
The lawsuit also claimed that the law interferes with the constitutional obligation of federal employees to provide access to abortion, including in cases of rape or incest, to people who are under the care of federal agencies or contractors such as those in prisons.
Both Sides See Path to Supreme Court
While proponents of abortion rights applauded the Justice Department’s legal challenge, officials in Texas defended the law and accused the Biden administration of filing the lawsuit for political reasons.
“President Biden and his administration are more interested in changing the national narrative from their disastrous Afghanistan evacuation and reckless open border policies instead of protecting the innocent unborn,” a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), said in a statement.
“We are confident that the courts will uphold and protect that right to life.”
The DOJ’s suit will now be decided by a federal judge for the Western District of Texas, based in Austin.
Depending on how that court rules, either opponents or supporters of the abortion ban are expected to appeal the case, sending it to the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal and likely ultimately placing the matter before the Supreme Court again in a matter of months.
The Supreme Court allowed the law to go into effect by declining to approve an emergency petition to block the measure last week, but it did not rule on the constitutionality of the policy.
As a result, the Justice Department’s legal challenge could force the high court to hear another facet of the law that it has not yet considered if it decides to see the case.