Given Trump’s on-going incitement of white supremacists to intimidate voters at the polls, is anyone still wondering why they should vote by mail?
I put my ballot in the mail on Monday without even leaving my house. It was picked up by a mail carrier (working so late that they were wearing a headlamp). Today, Wednesday morning, I got a text from http://northcarolina.ballottrax.net that it’s on the way to the Durham County Board of Elections! So easy. The hardest part was finding an adult to “witness” my absentee ballot.
The BallotTrax system is reliable and safe. Certainly safer than I feel about going to vote in person. If you don’t think Trump’s pals will find more ways to make voting harder, riskier (because of COVID) and scarier (because of white supremacists) in the next month then you are definitely not paying attention.
Why tempt a very uncertain future when you can safely vote from home? Republicans want you to to not trust the USPS, but mail carriers are on our side. They’re working their butts off to make sure our votes get delivered and BallotTrax (thanks to NC’s excellent Attorney General Josh Stein) ensures ballots will be counted.
The Washington Post writes today that a survey of battleground House districts shows Democrats with [a] narrow edge. But you know those elections aren’t going to win themselves. Thanks to gerrymandering, the votes of people like me who are packed into safe Democratic districts won’t make much difference. But there are potentially-swing districts in North Carolina. It’s a much more diverse state than the leaders of the N.C. General Assembly would have us believe, and there are still some districts where voters can chose their representatives instead of the other way around.
Flippable districts according to Swing Left
Look at all these places within driving distance of cities in NC where we can be supporting Democratic campaigns right now. 👉🏽
Indivisible/Flip NC is organizing canvasses in districts right here in the Triangle and I will be joining them to knock on doors next weekend (thanks in part to a nudge from a civic-minded friend). It’s not the most fun way to spend my free time, but I won’t be able to live with myself if we miss this opportunity to reduce the power of of the most greedy, craven, imperialist, chauvinist, white supremacist political party I’ve seen in my lifetime.
As I have been saying over and over: if one more person tells me we can vote our way our of this mess I am going to scream. Given extreme gerrymandering, voter suppression, Russian manipulation, billionaire megadonors, media complicity, nihilist Republicans, and feckless Democrats there is only so much that voting can do, and we have to vote circles around the Republicans just to win something slightly closer to representative. We have to do a lot more than voting, but vote we must.
If you live in a “swing state” like North Carolina or Texas, or have more than a passing interest in democracy, you are probably aware of how severely Republicans have gerrymandered state and federal electoral districts. Rather than voters being able to pick our representatives, they have drawn lines to pick the voters they want, and packed the rest of us into as few districts as possible. It’s been remarkably effective and has led to passing legislation like HB2 with total impunity since the GOP leaders know their majority can’t be threatened with the current districts, even though our state actually has way more registered Democrats than Republicans.
Don’t believe it? I just looked up the latest stats from the NC state board of elections, and as of 7/29/17 we had 39% Democrats, 30% Republicans, 30% unaffiliated, and less than 1% Libertarian. (Unaffiliated has been growing rapidly, for good reason. Don’t make the mistake of assuming these are centrist voters.) Meanwhile our NC senate is 70% Republican and our house representatives are 60% Republican.
If the legitimacy of the government derives from the consent of the majority, then at some point, we will have to address this disjuncture between the popular will and our elected bodies. We should start with nonpartisan redistricting reforms, and a fresh look at the Electoral College. But Mr. Trump’s comments make the adoption of democratic reforms that much harder.
Second, there’s a more insidious longer-term purpose here as well. Propaganda about illegal voting has been used — throughout history and in modern times — to justify unnecessary restrictions on voting. Unpopular incumbents like Mr. Trump can help their odds of re-election with measures that make it harder for people to vote.
This is the story of how the Trump campaign used data to target African Americans and young women with $150 million dollars of Facebook and Instagram advertisements in the final weeks of the election, quietly launching the most successful digital voter suppression operation in American history.
Throughout the campaign, President-Elect Donald J. Trump shrewdly invested in Facebook advertisements to reach his supporters and raise campaign donations. Facing a short-fall of momentum and voter support in the polls, the Trump campaign deployed its custom database, named Project Alamo, containing detailed identity profiles on 220 million people in America.
With Project Alamo as ammunition, the Trump digital operations team covertly executed a massive digital last-stand strategy using targeted Facebook ads to ‘discourage’ Hillary Clinton supporters from voting. The Trump campaign poured money and resources into political advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, the Facebook Audience Network, and Facebook data-broker partners.
I just learned that the suspicious and misleading robocalls from “Lamont Williams” to North Carolina voters, were actually the work of Women’s Voices, Women Vote. WVWV is an organization that works to empower single female voters, and which I used to support. Turns out they have a habit of sending poorly-timed voter registration information, causing thousands of voters to mistakenly think they are not registered to vote!
WUNC’s Laura Leslie posted the audio of the robocall on her blog on Monday, but as far as I can tell has not actually done a story about it. (She’s probably too busy begging for money. Way to schedule a pledge drive at the height of our primary, WUNC!)
Today I read a long investigative piece by my friend Chris Kromm at the Institute for Southern Studies that shows that WVWV was behind this, and that they have been confusing voters all over the nation with their automated phone calls and voter registration packets. “Women’s Voices’ questionable tactics have spawned thousands of voter complaints in at least 11 states and brought harsh condemnation from some election officials for their secrecy, misleading nature and likely violations of election law.”
WVWV claims that their campaign in North Carolina was designed to get unregistered, single, female voters to register to vote in the November general election. However, there is overwhelming evidence indicating quite the opposite. For example:
The voice on the calls is a male calling himself “Lamont Williams.” Not exactly ideal for the supposedly female target audience.
Many of the people who received the calls are married, male, and/or already registered.
WVWV is no newcomer to politics. They have been operating since at least the 2004 election. They are a well-funded organization with a savvy staff. The two top leaders each have at least two decades of political experience a piece. (One as Congressman David Price’s ’96 campaign manager – the one year Price lost.)
In fact, many WVWV staff and advisors gained experience working for the Clinton Whitehouse. For example, board member John Podesta (President and CEO of the Center for American Progress) served as President Clinton’s Chief of Staff for over two years.
There is no way that these seasoned political operatives could have missed the fact of our prominent May 6 primary, or that anyone with experience in voter engagement wouldn’t be fully aware of the timing involved.
I can only logically conclude that they are either intentionally suppressing voters (in an Obama-friendly state, hmm) or are criminally negligent and unable to carry out their stated mission of “Improving unmarried women’s participation in the electorate and policy process.” Either way, the only responsible step I can imagine is immediately cease operations and consider whether to reorganize or disband this organization.