Viewpoint: Trump, Republicans double down on dirty tricks to steal election

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Karen Rubin, Columnist

Election Day is now less than three months away, but voting actually begins in just about one month.

Effectively, then the window to protect voting rights is fast closing from unprecedented voter suppression, foreign interference, and hacking (which would have been addressed by three bills passed by the Democratically-controlled House but blocked by Senate Majority Leader).

And Trump and the Republicans seem just fine with that. The $4 billion that Democrats sought to protect voting from Russian and other foreign meddling with agitprop and outright hacking into the porous voting machines, the $25 billion to bolster the U.S. Postal Service which is anticipated to have to handle a tsunami of mail-in-ballots amid the COVID-19 health emergency?

Republicans are doing what they are great at: running out the clock (a favorite metaphor) to where no amount of money will help and they will be free to double down on the voter suppression tactics that have worked so well, including gerrymandering, Voter ID (while blocking the means to obtain ID and register), obstructing access to polls and the ballot, purging legitimate voters.

Instead, Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have taken to the courts dozens of times, as part of a $20 million effort to challenge voting rules (rights). Trump is actually suing to prevent Nevada from sending absentee ballots to all registered voters, even though five (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah) conduct their elections entirely by mail. So if Trump targets only some, doesn’t that fall under violating Equal Protection (14th amendment), not to mention the 15th amendment and Voting Rights Act?

The pandemic has already given Trump and the Republicans a perceived advantage – after all, the reason Jared Kushner was not interested in nationalizing PPE supplies and testing was because the epidemic was centered in Blue States, cities and communities of color – two-thirds of the hospitalized and two thirds of the dead are likely Democrats.

The ultimate voter suppression: 160,000 dead with another 100,000 expected to die by Election Day. Well, Trump squeaked through with 77,000 more votes across three states to “win” the Electoral College with only 42 percent of the popular vote, 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton.

Trump has made it clear that he plans to double-down on the dirty tricks that got him to squeak out a “win” in the Electoral College in 2016 – but now, he is in charge of the levers of all that power.

COVID-19 has given Trump two new weapons: undermining the US Post Office to not only delay mailing ballots to and from voters (now he is actually looking into an Executive Order that would direct the Postal Service to not deliver certain ballots to voters and issuing a ban on counting mail-in-ballots, otherwise known as “absentee ballots” beyond Election Day); and evictions and foreclosures that threaten 30 to 40 million people. Remember how Republicans challenged the vote of displaced Hurricane Katrina voters? Even here in New York State, the Republicans challenged the right of college students to vote at their campus (You moved dormitory rooms! You received their Christmas cards at your childhood home!).

Trump has shown himself willing to politicize the military and the National Guard for his own political benefit – in Lafayette Square, in Portland – and it is not inconceivable that he would declare some kind of martial law, as he has already threatened to send his Stormtroopers into cities that happen to have Democratic mayors.

Trump, who consistently projects onto others the criminal activity he commits, is already accusing Democrats of election fraud and says “that’s the only way they can win, by stealing the election.” Yet even in plain sight, it is clear that it what Trump and the Republicans are doing:

Inviting foreign interference: Instead of asking, ‘Russia, are you listening?’, he’s on the phone directly with Putin.

Even Trump’s own intelligence apparatus is saying that Russia is aggressively meddling in the election (and will never say whether Putin will go as far as flipping a few e-votes since have already demonstrated an ability to hack into election rolls).

Remember when Trump, the only time he actually grinned, turned to Putin, and said, “Don’t meddle” after being prodded by reporters? What do you suppose he has said in the many, many conversations that have gone unreported?

Certainly not warning Putin to stop paying bounties to kill US soldiers.

Trump already demonstrated how he would use taxpayer-funded military aid to extort Ukraine; seems to be using trade as bargaining chips for other countries’ assistance, like China, and arms deals to Saudi Arabia.

Setting up a straw candidate to peel away Black voters: Republicans are paying for, and using their own attorneys to stand up Kanye West in battleground states, a cynical tactic that assumes African-American voters are too stupid to realize the sham.

But with Jill Stein on the ballot to take votes from Clinton, Trump won Wisconsin by just 23,000 votes.

Pray that the post mortem to America’s 2020 election is not what Joe Biden said about Belarus’s election:

“Democracies are built on the simple concept that citizens have a right to elect their leaders and have a say in their country’s future.

“After a presidential election marred by electoral fraud, citizens peacefully protesting to demand an accurate vote count are now being met with riot police using stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets. The… regime has cut internet access, arrested protesters and independent journalists, and tried to muzzle foreign observers. These are not the actions of a political leader confident that he has won a fairly conducted election. But thanks to brave citizens — journalists, activists, and ordinary people documenting these extraordinary events — we know the truth about the assaults on democracy being committed by the regime,” Biden stated.

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