States now have 82 days in which to try to secure their voting systems against sabotage from the occupier of the Oval Office and his Republican enablers in the Senate. They are also desperately looking for ways to deal with lost revenue from nearly six months of pandemic. Coming out of the experience of conducting primary elections in the time of coronavirus, they have a pretty good idea what they'll be up against in November: a huge surge in absentee ballot requests and ballots. Minnesota had a total of 637,000 ballots requested for the primary; 432,000 were returned. In 2018, they sent out 73,000. In Wisconsin in 2018, 106,000 voted absentee in the general election. This year's primary had 554,000 absentee ballots. Vermont more than doubled the absentee vote in both 2016 and 2018 combined in this week's primary, with 104,000 absentee ballots cast.
In primary elections. No wonder Trump is doing everything in his power to stop the mail, and rig the election, including deactivating mail sorting machines all over the country. Vice found five processing facilities that have already or are scheduled to lose 19 mail sorting machines. The "USPS has not announced any policy, explained why they are doing this, what will happen to the machines and the workers who use them." The new postmaster general, Trump donor Louis DeJoy, has used budgets as his excuse for the sabotage of the Postal Service to date. Democrats passed $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service—and an additional $3.6 billion for states specifically dedicated to securing their elections systems for November—90 days ago in the HEROES Act. Sen. Mitch McConnell has ignored that bill for 90 days.
Destroying the Postal Service and blocking funding to states for elections aren’t the only things Trump and the Republicans are doing to try to throw this election their way. They've got a multipronged effort to keep people from voting and ballots from being counted. In addition to all the voter suppression efforts we've seen in the past that make it harder to register and harder to vote, they're really stepping it up this year.
That includes going to court to fight efforts by states to change voting processes to make it easier to vote in the pandemic. A number of voting rights groups as well as lawyers with the Democratic Party have appealed to the courts for changes to laws to make it easier and safer to vote. They're also suing for things like prepaid postage on mail-in ballots; making sure that ballots postmarked on Election Day are counted; giving voters ample time to verify signatures when there's a question about their validity; and allowing individuals or groups to collect ballots and turn them in for people who don't have easy access to polling places or the post office, like nursing home residents. Republicans are fighting all these efforts and are on the offense in Democratic states to keep them from making voting easier in the pandemic.
Trump's campaign has filed lawsuits in Nevada, Pennsylvania, and other states to stop them from setting up drop boxes for absentee ballots. The Republican National Committee is suing in 17 states to force photo ID and signature laws to be enforced; to stop states from mailing ballots to all voters; to prevent ballot collection by groups or individuals; to toss all ballots not received on Election Day; and basically anything any state comes up with to make this election a fair one. They're fighting the people of Florida, who voted to allow ex-felons to regain the vote, by imposing what amounts to a poll tax on them—a poll tax the U.S. Supreme Court upheld last month.
Trump and his fellow Republicans are being utterly transparent in all of this. They are doing it so that Trump can either win the election, or declare himself the winner on Election Day and set the nation up for chaos and confusion in the weeks after the election. He's said it out loud. He doesn't want this election to be fair. He's blocking negotiations on the next round of coronavirus relief to do it. That means more people are going to be homeless, more people are going to be hungry, and even more people are going to die.
All of it aided and abetted by Sen. Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate, which is officially on recess as of Thursday afternoon. But McConnell did manage to set up a bunch of votes on judges for their return.