Election day in the US is Tuesday, November 6th and I for one cannot wait for it to arrive. Elections drag on for so long here that the period before the voting is really tiresome for many reasons. One is that news coverage of every major event starts by briefly discussing the actual event before pivoting quickly to what the event might mean for the elections. Will it help the Democrats? Republicans? Trump? All this is of course pure speculation. Poll numbers will often be thrown in to support this or that view but drawing a line from events to poll numbers is highly iffy.
The other constant topic of discussion is the size of the early voting. Many states allow people to vote early, either by mail or by visiting election offices. Pundits look closely at the numbers who vote early compared to previous elections and the relative size of Democratic and Republican voting numbers, presumably obtained from their party registration, and then speculate on what that might mean. This year early voting seems to be up (including in Ohio) compared to the last off-presidential election year in 2014. Does this mean more voter enthusiasm? Or just that the idea of voting early is catching one and more people are deciding to do it? I have seen little eevidence that more early voting results in more people voting overall rather than the same people time-shifting their votes. So the excitement about the size of early voting seems misplaced to me.
I always vote in person on election day because it seems easier. The polling place is near my home and there is hardly any line to vote so I am in and out quickly. If my voting precinct was in a poor neighborhood, the situation could be quite different and there might be long lines because even when it comes to the mechanics of voting, socioeconomic class matters and poor areas tend to have fewer polling places in less convenient locations, fewer voting machines, and fewer poll workers.
Add to that the fact that poor and minority voters in Republican controlled areas have a greater chance of being purged from the rolls or otherwise disenfranchised. For example, in Georgia, the Republican secretary of state who is running for governor has decided to remove from the voting rolls anyone whose name on their ID does not exactly match their name on the voting rolls. If this rule were applied in my precinct, I would be disqualified. Why? Because in the voting rolls, the ‘O’ in my name is entered as a ‘D’. Since the upper case O and D are so much alike, whoever was entering it back in the day made a mistake. I have never bothered to get it corrected since it would require me to go to the election office downtown and fill in forms and no doubt sign affidavits and the like. It has never been a problem for me because no poll worker has ever noticed the difference, presumably because my name is an unfamiliar one and they do not know what it ‘should’ be. Or if they did notice, they let it pass, because I live in a fairly well-to-do area and thus have the privilege of being presumed to be honest.
Another particular problem with this particular election is that Trump is more brazen than most presidents in creating news that seems designed to fire up his base. He did this again yesterday. All the violence of the past week has taken attention away from his demagoguery over the refugee caravan. So he suddenly announces that he is going to remove by executive order birthright citizenship, the right of every person born in the country to be considered a citizen. This is laughable because that particular right is enshrined in the 14 Amendment to the constitution and no constitutional scholar thinks it can be overturned by executive order or legislation. Furthermore, Trump lied and said that only the US has such a provision, thus implying that no other country would be so stupid. Actually, 30 countries have a similar provision. It is the humane thing to do, since no child should be born without a guaranteed nationality.
By making this absurd statement, Trump has managed to shift attention away from the recent tragedies and violence for which he shares the blame and back to a xenophobic issue that energizes his base.