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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Bite it, Blake. And Joe Larisa, too

Federal judge rules for ACLU, against GOP on mail-in ballots
By Will Collette

How the GOP Plans to Suppress the Vote and Sabotage the 2020 Election -  Rolling Stone
Graphic from Rolling Stone
Despite resistance from Charlestown’s Republican state representative Blake “Flip” Filippi and Charlestown’s anti-Narragansett watchdog, Special Indian Affairs Counsel Joe Larisa, US District Judge Mary McElroy has suspended onerous requirements for mail-in voting this year.

The RI ACLU had filed suit on behalf of RI Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and individual plaintiffs arguing the state requirement that you must have either two witnesses or a notary’s stamp to make your mail-in ballot is an undue burden during the pandemic.

The state GOP and the Republican National Committee argued against the ACLU position, making claims similar to those of Donald Trump, that mail-in voting is rife with fraud and that Rhode Island’s restrictions, among the toughest in the nation, were needed to prevent that fraud.

They cited passages from the late Buddy Cianci’s autobiography, “Politics and Pasta,” where Cianci referenced mail ballot fiddling. Not mentioned is that for much of his political career, Buddy Cianci was a Republican.

But, like Trump, they have little in the way of actual evidence to prove that mail-in voting, with or without witnesses or a notary, is likely to lead to election fraud. It’s more about the national Republican strategy to suppress the vote, especially by those populations likely to vote against Trump and down ballot Republicans.

Studies have shown that mail-in voting does NOT lead to increased fraud and actually provides little or no gain to either party.

Data is also showing that Rhode Island’s coronavirus pandemic is on the upswing, sufficient to lead Governor Gina Raimondo to halt the re-opening process at Phase 3. The pandemic is out of control in most of the rest of the country and experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci suggest it is moving back in our direction, making an in-person primary and election a potential disease vector.

Despite a meritless claim, the GOP says it will appeal Judge McElroy’s decision. Maybe somewhere up the chain, they’ll get there case before one of the hundreds of Trump-appointed federal judges who have been rubber-stamped onto the bench by Senate Majority Leader Moscow Mitch McConnell.

RI Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said “Today’s ruling is a victory for voting rights and public health... I am appalled that the Republican National Committee is actively working to prevent Rhode Islanders from being able to vote safely and securely from their homes during this pandemic.”

Secretary Gorbea has also said she will ask the Governor to mobilize some National Guard troops to help process ballots and help with Election Day security.

They may find themselves facing federal storm troopers, a prospect that would have seemed completely ridiculous if not totally paranoid in the past.

But just in the past couple of weeks:

  • Donald Trump said he may not accept the results of the November 3 election;
  • He sent federal storm troopers to Portland, OR to suppress public protests;
  • He has threatened to send these forces to other parts of the country if he chooses to and, just today...
  • He says he thinks the election should be postponed.
  • He says that widespread use of mail ballots will lead to massive voter fraud.
Here’s what our Dear Leader tweeted this morning:
With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???
At this point, I think there is almost a national consensus that Trump is unpredictable and does not feel bound by the law.

Postponing the election, for example, is not his call. Under the Constitution (Article II, Section 1), only Congress has that power. The law requires that the national election be held on “the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November.”

The 20th Amendment to the Constitution also determines that the end of Presidential and Vice-Presidential terms are January 20 after the election.

Even though Trump thinks he has supreme powers, he does not have the power to change these laws. But, as one columnist wrote today, this hasn’t stopped Trump in the past.