- 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)
Senate Democrats To Introduce Voting Rights Bill This Week
Republicans are expected to block the legislation, but Democratic leaders hope the GOP’s unified opposition will lay the groundwork to justify getting rid of the filibuster.
Voting Bill Set for Floor
Senate Democrats are officially set to advance their voting rights bill this week, with a procedural vote to start debate on the legislation scheduled for Tuesday.
The move comes as an increasing number of Democrats and progressive activists have begun to embrace a more watered-down version of the bill proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), the sole Democrat who opposed the initial proposal on the grounds that it was too partisan.
While Democrats have spent the weekend hashing out the final details of compromise on Manchin’s bill, which he has touted as a more bipartisan compromise, Senate Republicans have still broadly rejected it.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who previously opposed the initial For the People Act as too far-reaching, called Manchin’s alternative proposal “equally unacceptable” and predicted that no members of his party will vote in favor.
The legislation is all but guaranteed to fail in the chamber, where it will require all 50 Democrats and at least 10 Republicans to overcome the filibuster.
However, bringing the bill to the floor still has major utility for Democrats because it will lay the groundwork for the party to justify scrapping the filibuster entirely.
Pathway for Filibuster Reform
Specifically, if Manchin agrees to some form of the bill which Republicans then filibuster, Democrats can say they had the to votes to pass the legislation if the filibuster were removed.
That, in turn, would bolster the Democratic argument that bipartisanship cannot be a precondition to taking actions to secure our democracy if it relies on reaching common ground with a party that they believe is increasingly and transparently committed to undermining democracy.
It would also give more ground to the Democratic claim that the GOP is abusing existing Senate rules to block policy changes that have gained wide public support following the Jan. 6 insurrection and amid the growing efforts by Republican governors and legislatures to restrict voting access in their states.
As a result, if Republicans block the legislation along party lines, Democratic leaders hope that could change objections to scrapping the filibuster voiced privately by some members and publicly by Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.).
This is especially true for Tuesday’s planned vote, because it is just a vote to proceed to debate, meaning that if Republicans filibuster, they will be preventing the Senate from even debating any efforts to protect democracy, including Manchin’s plan which he crafted specifically to reach a compromise with the GOP.
Whether a full party rejection would be enough to move the needle for Manchin and the other Democrats remains to be seen. Any successful overhaul of the contentious Senate rule would not only be incredibly significant for President Joe Biden’s agenda, but also for the precedent it could set.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Reuters) (USA Today)
McConnell Says He Would Block a Biden SCOTUS Nominee in 2024
The Senate Minority Leader also refused to say whether or not he would block a hypothetical nominee in 2023 if his party overtakes the chamber’s slim majority in the midterm elections.
McConnell Doubles Down
During an interview with conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threatened to block a hypothetical Supreme Court nominee from President Joe Biden in 2024 if Republicans took control of the Senate.
“I think in the middle of a presidential election, if you have a Senate of the opposite party of the president, you have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time a vacancy was filled,” he said. “So I think it’s highly unlikely. In fact, no, I don’t think either party if it controlled, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election.”
McConnell’s remarks do not come as a surprise as they are in line with his past refusal to consider former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court in February 2016 on the grounds that it was too close to the presidential election.
The then-majority leader received a ton of backlash for his efforts, especially after he forced through Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation just eight days before the 2020 election. At the time, McConnell argued the two situations were different because the Senate and the president were from the same party — a claim he reiterated in the interview.
McConnell also implied he may take that stance even further in comments to Hewitt, who asked if he would block the appointment of a Supreme Court justice if a seat were to be vacated at the end of 2023 about 18 months before the next inauguration — a precedent set by the appointment of Anthony Kennedy.
“Well, we’d have to wait and see what happens,” McConnell responded.
Many Democrats immediately condemned McConnell’s remarks, including progressive leaders who renewed their calls to expand the court.
“Mitch McConnell is already foreshadowing that he’ll steal a 3rd Supreme Court seat if he gets the chance. He’s done it before, and he’ll do it again. We need to expand the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Ma.).
Some also called on Justice Stephen Breyer, the oldest SCOTUS judge, to retire.
“If Breyer refuses to retire, he’s not making some noble statement about the judiciary. He is saying he wants Mitch McConnell to handpick his replacement,” said Robert Cruickshank, campaign director for Demand Progress.
Others, however, argued that the response McConnell’s remarks elicited was exactly what he was hoping to see and said his timing was calculated.
The minority leader’s comments come as the calls for Breyer to step down have recently grown while the current Supreme Court term draws near, a time when justices often will announce their retirement.
On Sunday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was asked if she thought Breyer should leave the bench while Democrats still controlled the Senate. She responded that she was “inclined to say yes.”
With his latest public statement, McConnell’s aims are twofold here: he hopes to broaden divisions in the Democratic Party between progressives and more traditional liberals, who are more hesitant to rush Breyer to retire or expand the court, while simultaneously working to unite a fractured Republican base and encourage them to turn out in the midterm elections.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CNN) (The Hill)
Gov. Abbott Says Texas Will Build Border Wall With Mexico
The announcement follows months of growing tension between the Texas governor and President Biden over immigration policies.
Texas Border Wall
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced during a press conference Thursday that the state would build a border wall with Mexico, extending the signature campaign promise of former President Donald Trump.
Abbott provided very few details for the border wall plans, and it is unclear if he has the authority to build it.
While some of the land is state-owned, much of it belongs to the federal government or falls on private property.
Even if the state were able to build on federal ground, private landowners who fought the Trump administration’s attempts to take their land through eminent domain would still remain an obstacle for any renewed efforts.
During his term, Trump built over 450 miles of new wall, but most of it covered areas where deteriorating barriers already existed, and thus had previously been approved for the federal project.
The majority of the construction also took place in Arizona, meaning Abbott would have much ground to cover. It is also unclear how the governor plans to pay for the wall.
Trump had repeatedly said Mexico would fund the wall, but that promise remained unfulfilled, and the president instead redirected billions of taxpayer dollars from Defense Department reserves.
While Abbott did say he would announce more details about the wall next week, his plan was condemned as ill-planned by immigration activists, who also threatened legal challenges.
“There is no substantive plan,” said Edna Yang, the co-executive director of the Texas-based immigration legal aid and advocacy group American Gateways. “It’s not going to make any border community or county safer.”
Abbott’s announcement comes amid escalating tensions between the governor and the administration of President Joe Biden.
Biden issued a proclamation that stopped border wall construction on his first day of office, and has since undone multiple Trump-era immigration policies. Abbott, for his part, has blamed Biden’s rollback of Trump’s rules for the influx of migrants at the border in recent months.
Two weeks ago, the governor deployed over 1,000 National Guard members and troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the border as part of an initiative launched in March to ramp up border security dubbed Operation Lone Star.
Last week, Abbott issued a disaster declaration which, among other measures, directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to strip the state licenses of all shelters that house migrant children and have contracts with the federal government.
The move, which federal officials have already threatened to take legal action against, could effectively force the 52 state-licensed shelters housing around 8,600 children to move the minors elsewhere.
During Thursday’s press conference, Abbott also outlined a variety of other border initiatives, including appropriating $1 billion for border security, creating a task force on border security, and increasing arrests for migrants who enter the country illegally.
“While securing the border is the federal government’s responsibility, Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows,” he said. “Our efforts will only be effective if we work together to secure the border, make criminal arrests, protect landowners, rid our communities of dangerous drugs and provide Texans with the support they need and deserve.”