Fuck You, I’m Voting

Trump has officially said the quiet part loud and noted that he’s not going to agree to fund the Postal Service explicitly because he doesn’t want mail in votes. This during a pandemic that his administration has done a very poor job combatting, in no small part because it made a(n erroneous) political calculation that the pandemic would mostly affect blue states, and Democrats would be blamed. All of this means Trump is actively acknowledging that the only way he can win re-election is through suppression of voting. Which we knew, but now we don’t even have to pretend that’s not what he’s doing. He’s doing it, all right, and, by the way, fuck you for wanting to vote in the first place.

Which, you know. Fuck him, because I haven’t missed an election since my very first one in 1988 — for which I used a mail-in vote, fuck you very much! — and I’m sure as hell not going to miss this one. For the primary election in June, I requested and used a mail-in ballot, and here in Ohio, the Secretary of State will be mailing everyone a mail-in ballot request (why a request and not an actual ballot? Unnnngh, because the Ohio GOP hates actual voting, but at least it’s a reminder one may vote by mail).

However, for the last few national election cycles, I’ve voted early, by driving to my county board of elections office and voting there. I do it so I can have it done early, and because then, no matter what happens to me between when I vote and Election Day, my vote will be counted. Also, in these pandemic times, it’s a responsible social-distancing choice, since I’m usually the only person there to vote when I show up.

The Darke County Board of Elections site informs me that Early Voting begins on October 6 at 8am. If you don’t think I won’t actually get my ass up early this year to be there when the doors open, you don’t know me (well, actually, I’ll probably show up between 10am and noon, but if a cat paws me awake at 5am, which there is a very good chance of, then I’ll be there at 8). I am likely to drag along a family member or two as well. Why? Because fuck you, I’m voting.

Folks, it’s come to this: Today really is the day that everyone should assume the actual Election Day, November 3, 2020, is going to be a clusterfuck of massive proportions, and make their plan to vote early. Likewise, today is the day that everyone should assume voting by mail will be even more of a clusterfuck, and be prepared to compensate for that. Don’t assume otherwise, because, as we have seen, Trump (and the GOP in general, but especially Trump) actually are trying to suppress the vote.

How to prepare?

1. As I have, find out when Early Voting happens in your county and where, put the earliest possible dates and times on your calendar, and then show up physically to vote early. Wear a mask, socially distance, and all of that, but do it.

2. If you take a mail-in ballot: Request it as early as possible and when you get it, fill it out and send it back as quickly as you can. Try to get it in the mail at least two weeks before Election Day, because, remember, Trump and his odious new postmaster general are trying to dismantle the Postal Service as quickly as possible to fuck with mail-in votes. Indeed:

3. Even if you get your ballot by mail, consider turning it in physically at your local Board of Elections, or barring that, at an official dropbox. My current high level of voting paranoia is such that I would go for turning it in to the Board of Elections rather than a dropbox, because if the actual President of the United States is declaring open season on Americans’ right to vote, it’s not too much of a stretch to suspect someone will take that as permission to fuck up dropboxes, because fuck you for voting, that’s why.

In short: Know how to vote early, fucking vote early, and if you must do it by mail, do it especially early (or turn in your ballot by hand, to your local board of elections if possible).

And yes, I absolutely and positively hate feeling this paranoid about the idea that my government is trying to keep my vote from being counted, thank you for asking. But here we are, it’s 2020, the worst President of my lifetime is just blithely gibbering at a microphone about suppressing voting, and there’s no point trying to pretend that it’s not what’s happening, and that the president’s party isn’t complicit with it.

And also: Fuck you, I’m voting. You literally could not stop me this year. I have always voted — always took for granted I could vote — but this year above all I will go out of my way to get it done. You should, too.

— JS

147 Comments on “Fuck You, I’m Voting”

  1. Comments that I’m being paranoid are likely to be Malleted. I understand I’m being paranoid. I also understand Trump isn’t even trying to pretend he wants a fair election, so, you know, paranoia seems warranted.

    Likewise, comments that he isn’t trying to suppress voting by trying to force in-person voting during a pandemic, especially when the number of poll stations have been drastically reduced in many places (particularly in the South, particularly in places with GOP-held state governments), will not be taken seriously, and will make you look like a credulous tool.

    Otherwise, the Mallet is out, be polite to each other, please.

  2. “When everyone really is out to get you, paranoia is just good thinking.” (Dr. Johnny Fever)

  3. Trump has pushed hard on all sorts of crazy shit but he’s always had adults in the room to push back. No so much now. Hell yes, we all need to take this very seriously.

  4. Since my state has an early September primary election we are getting to try out mass mail-in voting early – which is good, because I just learned my town needs to redo mailing ballots to my precinct due to a mix-up (voters started receiving ballots for the wrong party).

    We do have several dropboxes around town for returning them (the pre-sabotaged post office delivered my spring ballot BACK to me after reading the return address as the destination), but have also had a recent spate of BLM signs being damaged, so maybe I will drop my ballot at the Town Clerk’s office if that’s an option.

  5. With you, John. I would literally crawl over broken glass in a firestorm to vote this year. Yeah, I’d wear kneepads and kevlar gloves and a respirator but I WILL VOTE.



  6. I have the same plan for this year – vote early, in person, at the earliest opportunity, and hopefully avoid any sort of crowd doing so.

    It’s a mark of privilege, I suppose, for those of us who A) do have easy physical access to an in-person voting place (give or take a 45-minute drive to our county seat for me) and B) live in a rural enough area that avoiding crowds at polling places isn’t generally an issue.

    Acknowledging that privilege makes this clusterfuck all the more heinous.

  7. You know what I’m sick of? Finding out that authors whose work I enjoy and respect are younger than me. First voted in 1988? Stay off my lawn, you damned kids!

    Just today I got to schedule a colonoscopy for… wait for it, November 3rd. so, just like that, the colonoscopy will be the second most unpleasant thing I have to do that day. (there is something special about being a Liberal in Trump Country)

    [sigh] At least I know I’ll be awake for it, after the night of a thousand flushes.

  8. In 1960, my Dad told me that Richard Nixon was a crook. And that he turned out to be. I never thought we would have a worse president than Richard M Nixon. But there we are. I am a person at very high risk of terrible complications such I get covid 19. So I probably won’t vote in person, even at early voting. I have already requested my mail in ballot. I will turn it in as soon as I get it. I live in Illinois, these days a dependably blue state. Does not mean my vote is not important and I will of course vote, as I have in every general election since I turned 21.

  9. Vote as if your life, liberty, and ability to pursue happiness depends on it — because they do.

  10. You are not paranoid. They are out to block as many liberal voters as possible from voting. I will check out early voting (if we have it) and will vote in person. The republican plan is to clog up the post office so badly that mail in votes will not be counted (did not get in, in time). I saw this coming a while ago.

    We are now officially a banana republic, without the bananas.

  11. Also worth noting that at least Maryland–where the governor is forcing the board of elections to mail out an *application* to receive a mail-in ballot rather than the ballot–you can just directly request a mail-in ballot online. Not sure if that’s true for Ohio or how many states that’s potentially useful for, but … Marylanders, if you don’t want to wait ’til September to *maybe* receive your application, you can do it online.

  12. Pretty much my thoughts on this (though I have an absentee ballot request pdf ready to print, I haven’t decided yet). NC is expanding early voting, which has been my preference of late anyway, mandating county BoEs either have more sites or extended hours/days if they can’t have more sites. Or, you know, both, which also works.

  13. Given his evident cognitive decline, I actually now think that the Republicans’ endgame is to get him elected, declare him unfit, and replace him with a healthy and functional substitute, to further consolidate power for another four years.


  14. I vote early in Colorado, and drop my ballot in the ballot box in front of the library a block from my home. I don’t think that has anything to do with the Post Office, but different states do things differently.

    At any rate we need a new Voting Rights bill designed to make sure *all* adult citizens have easy means to vote. The right to vote should be inalienable. Even felons in prison should be voting.

    And people in all of our territories should have congressional representation somehow.

  15. May I suggest a #4? Consider if you can be a poll worker. Boards of Election are desperate, and we’re needed to serve those who can’t vote early/by mail. I am goddamn resentful that I’m calculating the risk to my life against someone else’s ability to vote but fuck you everyone should (be able to access their right to) vote so boy howdy am I doing it.

  16. Question:

    I have a friend who works the polls in Ohio, and he’s said something about provisional ballots. I’m Canadian, so I don’t really get the ins and outs of the American voting system. But my understanding is that mail in or absentee ballots are considered provisional, which somehow means they are counted after in-person ballots, or only if there isn’t a sufficient number of in-person ballots to call a district.

    My question is: Is that at all correct, in any way? Or am I entirely misunderstanding?

  17. And please remember to vote all the way down the ballot. I want rid of Cornyn as my state senator, and there are lots of other soulless enablers that need to go down HARD. I’ll be donating to more than just my candidates.
    Justifiable paranoia.

  18. We (my wife and I) are extraordinarily lucky when it comes to voting.

    First of all, we live in Oregon, the first state that went entirely to vote-by-mail. (And now, the postage is pre-paid on the return envelopes.) The process has been in place for years here, and works very well.

    Secondly, we live in Multnomah County (the home of Portland), which has ballot drop sites at all the library branches, so we usually just go to the local library (6/10ths of a mile away) to drop off our ballots. And we automatically receive emails when the ballots have been sent out, when the ballot is received by the elections office and when the ballot has been counted.

    Given that we’re both closing in on 70, we’re very happy to avoid possible COVID hotspots.

    I’m appalled at how many states are actively working to prevent their citizens from voting, or to force them to risk death just to vote.

  19. @Chris Ogilvie – I don’t know if it differs between states or even counties. But this is what my county auditor [Iowa] has said publicly:

    This is a very common myth. We count ALL absentee ballots that are returned and deemed eligible for counting by our Absentee Special Precinct Board (bipartisan team of trained Precinct Election Officials) who review each and every absentee ballot. Once they deem it eligible for counting they open the envelope, remove the ballot, and stack them for counting. From there we use our high speed ballot scanner and when polls close we post those results. Should an absentee come in after the polls close but postmarked on time and received by noon the Monday after the election, the Absentee Board will Will review them when they return on Monday and those ballots are counted and results updated. Long answer but yes, all absentee ballots received on time and deemed valid are counted.

    Note: He did not elaborate on how the ballot is deemed eligible but I assume that includes, at least partly, the usual eligibility criteria: resident of the county, registered to vote, not dead. etc.

  20. This x 1000. Or more.

    Quite right. Younger healthy people who can volunteer to be poll workers would really help (and get paid for their service). As well as mask & gloves, take a visor.

    @Chris Ogilvie
    As I understand it,mpeople cast provisional ballots in person only, if there is some kind of question about their eligibility or whether they’re voting at the right place.

    @ Linda@TheLibrary
    Damn right. And throw Cornyn out, the spineless trump enabler.

  21. Of course the Ohio Secretary of State has just banned more than one drop-off box per county.
    what I don’t understand is why nothing can be done about such unconstitutional activity as election-tampering by crippling the post-office? Is it because the Justice Department is so compromised?

    I’m another who has voted every election since I was eligible, and plan on continuing the tradition with angry enthusiasm.

  22. Why don’t more people vote early in the US? I’m in Canada and I always vote early to avoid crowds.

  23. Every attempt to expand mail-in voting has been blocked by the corrupted SCOTUS, bar one.

    This election really is for all the marbles – at least for democracy, lose this one and it’s all over. 70:30 per 538, it feels more like 50:50 at best…

    Down here in San Diego, we always mail in as the ballot is usually 4 pages long, so you need a reference guide, and I actually do have confidence in the ballot counters. But this time I’ll be looking for a drop box, assuming libraries are open again by then (the twin incompetences of Trump and Newsom (who caved in and reopened far too early) mean we’re seeing more cases than ever before now)

    I’m 51, so am pushing the age limit to volunteer as a poll worker, unfortunately.

  24. You said what I’ve been thinking. Hope you don’t mind, but shared this everywhere.

  25. I’m in Canada, and my first vote was the day after i did get my canadian citizenship. The ink was not yet dry on my papers and i was already at the polling places. The worker were amazed.

  26. For the first (and I hope last) time ever, I’ll be adding a prominent warning to my online analysis (composition underway) of the local ballot, advising voters to NOT rely on US Postal Service to convey their ballots to San Mateo County (California) Elections Dept., but rather deposit their sealed, signed ballot envelopes directly into a ballot box at one of the county’s 45 Voting Centres — preferably early.

    Fortunately for us in the San Francisco Bay Area, our county and state voting officials have been diligent and trustworthy, so we lack the additional sabotage potential looming in, say, critical swing states. I’ve nonetheless long encouraged voters to verify affirmatively well before registration deadline that they’re (still) correctly recorded on the voting rolls, and also to keep the stub (do NOT use touch-screen voting unless a disability requires it) and use it to verify affirmatively, a day or so after dropping off one’s ballot, that the ballot serial number shows as counted.

    In a less insane year, when local governments aren’t suddenly facing dramatically shrinking budgets, I’d be talking to my Elections Dept. about giving voters a way to vet that their ballots aren’t merely counted but also counted correctly. There’s a lot of loose talk about ‘auditing’ voting systems, especially back when California’s then-Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, decertified almost all e-voting machines on account of inexcusable security problems and lack of auditability. Even the worst of those systems, such as the Diebold ones, had PR flacks on radio and television swearing up and down that their machines were auditable — and most were, for sufficiently feeble and useless values of that word. IMO, an acceptable system ought to, among other things, permit each voter to trace a stub number as his/her ballot goes through the system and vet that his/her choices were correctly recorded, while still preserving ballot secrecy. In computing, the obvious solution would be generating a checksum value (and conveying that to the voter, e.g, on a receipt or printing it on the ballot stub) at the time of ballot submission, and for the voter to be able to vet the recorded checksum being correct in the official records. Any voter whose asserts that his checksum is wrong could trigger an immediate investigation and tracking down the real values.

    But that’s an improvement for a future election (assuming elections).

  27. Another note: At least some Red midwestern states have announced that they’re restricting secured ballot dropoffs to… only the board of elections offices.

    This is to deliberately (again) make it harder to vote. t’s hard to believe that it’s really this bad, but it is.

    I’m voting remotely the day I get my ballot, and I’m driving the 30 minutes away to drop it off directly with the elections board. Because I trust Republicans will try to mess with it and will have some success even in Blue California.

  28. “[W]hat I don’t understand is why nothing can be done about such unconstitutional activity as election-tampering by crippling the post-office? Is it because the Justice Department is so compromised?”


    I’ll go further: DOJ is beyond compromised: it is fully an arm of the Trump Administration/Re-Election mob.

    Ditto the Senate, which just recessed without so much as a glance at the Covid-19 relief package (the Heroes Act) the House passed months ago. And McConnell has stated that when they return in September, they will focus exclusively on filling judicial posts.

    Honestly, the time is long past that we acknowledge the entire GOP for what it is: an Anti-American organization dedicated to destroying the country. I don’t know if the reason is racism, oligarchy, or kompromat. And I don’t care. They’re all enemies intent on killing us and killing the country.

    Defy and defeat them. All of them.

  29. Elections really matter, really really matter this year, we must get that bloated pos out of our White House..

  30. To dogpile on what John Lorentz said above (hi fellow Oregonian!):

    Voting in Oregon is awesome. I get my voter’s guide, my ballot, my laptop, and a cup of coffee and sit down at my kitchen table to vote. I can research candidates or ballot items I’m not familiar with and make informed decisions. When I’m done I drop the ballot in the mail- no need to take off work or stand in lines to exercise your right to vote.

    That said, instead of dropping the ballot in the mail this year I’ll be taking a bike ride to the nearest drop box. Not going to let Cheeto Musolini steal this from us.

  31. I live in WA State, where we followed Oregon into postage-paid everyone vote-by-mail. I brought both my son and my daughter downtown to register to vote as soon as they turned 18. I’ve been voting since 1980 and will return my ballot the day it comes in the mail! So by Halloween my vote should be in and counted. We get a number to check if our vote is in and counted: they are counted as they come in. 55% of Washingtonians voted in the primary — highest number in decades. Also, Seattleites like me were not too fond of the Storm Troopers in Portland, our neighbor to the South. Anything to prevent fascism from taking over in this country.

  32. Dear John,

    Oh hell, yes!

    The (extraordinarily unlikely) scenario I’m rooting for is that Trump wins the popular vote and loses the Electoral College. Then EVERYBODY will hate the EC and we can get rid of it, since it’s clearly not serving its primary function– to insulate us from demagogues like Trump.

    Well, I can dream, can’t I?

    (For those who’d argue, “But then Trump will claim the election was stolen from him…” there is no scenario in which he won’t claim that, even if he loses the popular vote by 60-40. So, who cares?)


    Dear Grace,

    My live-in partner, Paula, has hypothesized that come October, the GOP will use the 25th Amendment to force Trump out and off the ticket, figuring they can’t do any worse running Pence. And they might well be right.

    As October Surprise scenarios go, it’s one of the more novel.

    But, if he’s re-elected, I think the GOP will stick with him. We’ve been imagining they’d oust him for four years, now, and it ain’t been a thing.

    Honestly, I do not see what cognitive decline you’re talking about. Trump’s Derangement Syndrome has seemed pretty constant to me. It’s hard to tell when a delusional, compulsive liar becomes even more so.

    pax / Ctein

  33. Thank you, John, for once again reminding people to vote (and early, too). I, also, have voted in every election since I’ve been able to (I missed the 2000 one by a few weeks). I wish people would take this seriously and do it (especially this year).

  34. Growing up with a best friend who’s parents worked in the USPS I know it is not without its problems. Most notably a very high pension program that bleeds most of the money away from actual postal service. That and the fact that these problems refuse to be addressed by our government. In order to remain competitive the USPS must raise enough money through postage to pay for delivery and pensions which, due to inflation, is becoming more difficult to do. An overhaul of the USPS to a contributional 401K type program for retirement is needed and not a pension program. Orange county CA found this out over 10 years ago when it filed for bankruptcy for the same reasons.

    By all means everyone needs to vote but as has been mentioned here already, and the horror stories I have heard about missing mail prove out, please take your ballot to the registrar of voters to assure delivery or vote in person.

    That being said I’m glad the registrar of voters has sent a mailer to me today to verify my mailing address for my ballot. I had written to our registrar here in CA to inquire about the security of mailing ballots to every voter. This action has increased my confidence that voters will receive only the ballot that they deserve rather than simply “mailing ballots to registered voters.” Reconciling the voter rolls should be done to ensure the validity of the mail voting process.

    I’m not paranoid but I do plan for my vote to be counted relying on myself rather than an outside entity to deliver it to the registrar.

  35. To add to your PSA: Even if you live in a solidly red or blue state (so that your vote doesn’t matter for the EC), be sure to vote anyway and vote early. Dumbo and the GOP will have a harder time justifying post-Election Day shenanigans if the popular vote is a complete blowout by the evening of November 3rd.

  36. If you’re paranoid then so am I, as it also my plan to go vote in person at the courthouse early. I can’t trust the mail in this state in particular. I did the same in 2018 because I was going to be out of town and it worked fine.

  37. I see you are putting your super-powers to good use (not that fiction writing is not worthy and righteous ;) ) but this, how you said what you said is Spider-Man level super powers.

  38. John, thank you. You caused me to think about my vote, and head to the Internet to check things out.

    Pennsylvania doesn’t have early voting. I’m going to take a bus downtown and hand my mail-in ballot to the Board of Elections. (And, yeah, I’ll get over to Southwest Moes, they don’t have one in my neighborhood.)

    And, you made me realize that my first election, I voted by mail, too! (1970, from my nice little abode in the Gulf of Tonkin.)

  39. So….. out of curiosity, what’s the likelihood of early/mail-in votes being screwed with? I assume you have scrutineers at polling places like we do in Canada which cuts down on the opportunity for mischief on election day but I’m thinking the weeks long gap between a vote being cast and counted presents more opportunity for this particular administration to do something that will corrupt these votes.

  40. Laura W: Hello fellow WA voter! On election day for the primary there was an honest-to-dog traffic jam around the closest ballot drop box, from everyone who wanted to be really, really sure their ballot got counted.

    I’ll do it that way too, in November, since my mail carrier doesn’t always see my outgoing mail.

    Oh, and fun thing: in WA you get a unique tracking ID for your ballot so you can know when it’s been counted.

    It’s not electioneering if I offer to buy a friend dinner so they have time to go vote, is it?

  41. I decided a few months ago that all of the signs, omens and portents pointed to Trump pulling the rug from under the election.

    I determined then that I would risk myself and vote in person. That is still my plan.

    I am lucky enough to live in a county with population enough for early voting to take place at eight branch libraries throughout the county. I will be visiting one very early in that period.

    I am very glad that others have figured it out, it is tantamount that the big orange tick is removed. This is the closest to a sure thing we can have. I need some sure things, positive sure things have been in short supply of late.

  42. You may not be paranoid enough. This is the party that gets rid of polling places that would return the “wrong” result, and blocks public transport that would allow the affected voters to get to the one that’s been moved out of town (Dodge City KS 2018). Or reducing the number of polling places in non-Republican areas so much that there’s not time for everyone to vote at the remaining ones (Atlanta GA 2018). If you’re in a red district you probably won’t have trouble voting.

  43. New York is (somehow) one of the eight (I believe) states where you need to state a reason to be able to get a ballot to vote absentee, but we’ve been told we can check the Temporary Illness or Disability box to get one. But since we did (finally) start early voting a couple of years ago, we will probably just walk over to the local high school, which is our regular voting place and an early voting location to get the votes in early. Yes, there is no doubt about the outcome here, but it needs to be as crushing a defeat as possible.

  44. To my fellow Texans out there, be aware that mail voting and absentee in general are made unnecessarily difficult . . . but you can vote at ANY voting site in your county on ANY early voting date (October 13 through 30, according to a page Google showed me, but triple-check for your county!) with NO REASONS needed other than “I’m here, you’re here, and I want to vote.” Take your voter registration card and an ID (grumble, curse, etc.), be willing to stand in a line, and go vote.

    Many places are open on weekends. Many of them are inside a grocery store or in a trailer in the parking lot. If you’re picking up your necessaries anyway, take the extra hour, stand in line, and vote early, because election day is going to be a monstrous nightmare of lines and breaking systems and Texas has really gone out of its way to close the voting sites more convenient for the people least able to travel. If you’re SUPER lucky and live in Austin, maybe Alex Jones will protest at your voting site. (I met him once. He talks during movies, which is enough for me to remove him from consideration as worth keeping in the human race right there.)

    Texas’s unrestricted early voting is just about the only piece of voting the state has managed to do right, so make use of it. Find a convenience early voting site, get it done, and then twitch in fear like I intended to do for the next several weeks.

  45. In Utah, as solidly Republican as they come, we’ve had mail in ballots for years with no problems. Since 2012, I think, it’s been entirely vote by mail. There’s even drop off boxes all over.
    That said, I’m putting my ballot in one of those boxes as soon as possible.
    I’m glad one of my senators calls Orange Man out for his stupidity, the other is a sycophant/co conspirator.

    I really hope that there is a complete change in party control, and that change and improvements actually happen.
    I don’t mean to sound cynical, but even with full Democrat control, I despair that nothing of substance will be accomplished.
    That said, get out and vote, and make sure all of your friends and family vote.

  46. I am very glad I live in a state that switched to vote by mail years ago. They do require the ballot be postmarked no later than election day but will accept ones that arrive by mail after election day.

    They recently switched to using postage paid envelopes so you don’t even need a stamp to vote anymore.

    I never thought I would hear a President say he doesn’t want members of the other party to be able to vote. But oddly I’m not surprised at this point.

  47. I will vote early and for whom I damn well please.

    Fuck the critics, be they red or blue.

  48. I vote because my parents always did, and it helps my self esteem to feel like a voter among voters.

    I like the invention of scrutineers for elections. I don’t think they had them for the recent controversial Belarus election.

  49. @DLM – Postage-paid envelopes may hurt rather than help. “USPS General Counsel Thomas Marshall told state leaders that, depending on their respective deadlines for requesting an absentee ballot and casting a vote through the postal system, sending election items as bulk mail could cause voters to miss crucial cutoff points,” according to Washington Post. I’ve been told (but haven’t confirmed) that bulk mail that can’t be immediately delivered is discarded.

    I’m glad that many states (including mine) have had excellent success with mail-in voting. However, we’ve never tried it when the leadership of USPS is actively interfering with the mail.

  50. You are not paranoid.

    I have been sending PSA-type emails to everyone – EVERYONE – on my contact list with detailed information about how to request an absentee ballot with the URL for doing so, when to expect it to be mailed, how to fulfill all the pettifogging requirements the R’s have added to try to disqualify as many ballots as possible, how early to mail it back, and what the URL is to confirm that the county clerk’s office received it.

    I sent instructions out before our state’s April election, before our state’s election earlier this month, and I am already drafting the email that I’ll send next month for November. Thanks to your excellent commentary here, I am also going to include a link to this post as added emphasis, because you are far better at this sort of thing than I am. (You also drop more f-bombs than I usually do, although with excellent reason in this case so I have no hesitation in sharing your comments.)

    Our state will mail out the ballots for the November election on September 17. My ballot will get completed and sent back the day I receive it. And you had better believe that I will be checking my state’s website to confirm that it arrived a few days after that.

    Preach it, Brother Scalzi.

  51. Yes, you are being paranoid and so am I! And I’m an expert: a good buddy of mine in College was a genuine paranoid! I never thought knowing him would have been a survival lesson some thirty-eight years later! Vote! Vote! Vote!!!

  52. Mr. Scalzi, thoughts on voting AGAINST a candidate, vs. voting FOR? I always believed that my vote should be a positive thing – I am voting FOR this candidate because I want this candidate to win; because I think they are the best person for the job. But now… I don’t want to vote FOR Trump, obvi, but I don’t want to vote FOR Biden, either, as I don’t think he’d be a good president. But I kind of have to vote for Biden because I really need to vote AGAINST Trump. This makes me sad that I have to cast a vote for a candidate I don’t support, because the other candidate is worse. My vote, that I have to work so hard to get cast, is not the positive thing I want it to be, but rather a “lesser of two evils” thing. That’s just wrong, IMO, but what are the options?

  53. Digressing slightly, I’ve seen lots of people claim voting should be limited to the right people by one criteria or another. Educational standards or something. A big problem is that whatever is used for your criteria gets taken over and becomes run solely for politics.

    The Post Office is being destroyed because it might effect politics. Anything else that gets tied into the ability to vote will be similarly corrupted.

    (And this is ignoring the question of if qualification tests are administered honestly and fairly, which has been a historical problem.)

  54. @K: I am Not Scalzi, but…that’s your option.

    It’s not a great option! I’m not as unhappy about it as others are, but I understand not being thrilled about it. You can vote and vent to like-minded friends, or vote and cry a little about the shitshow that all of this is, or vote and throw darts at the DNC logo. Still, there’s a reason why it’s “civic duty” and not “civic cocktail hour.”

    To quote Buffy: “You don’t have a good choice, but you have a choice.”

  55. Also, if you’re in a locality that allows you to track your mail-in ballot (and the following is legal), mail it or drop it off early and keep checking until you get confirmation that it’s been received. If it’s getting close to election day and it still hasn’t, assume something’s gone wrong and go down to the polling place to vote in person.

    (At least here in Santa Clara county (CA), if you go to the polls and your mail-in ballot has been received, they won’t print out a new one. If it hasn’t, they’ll print one out and flag the mail-in one as invalid. Other places may make you vote a provisional ballot, which will have a similar effect.)

  56. @K: If you want to vote FOR someone instead of AGAINST the lesser of two perceived evils, you might want to push for Single Transferable Vote. List of candidates ordered by your preference. The (of course honest) vote counters eliminate the biggest loser and transfer their votes to the second preference of each of those voters, and so on. It might be a lot of work if we didn’t have computers.

    With the current system you have two credible choices. Pick one. The people who couldn’t quite stomach Hillary last time got what they asked for. Maybe Biden won’t be a historically great president, but I doubt very much that he will be historically abysmal.

  57. The Post Office pension is actually a requirement that the PO have 75 years of pension funding in escrow foisted on them by the GOP. Obviously something no other company in history has had to deal with.

  58. I’m seconding that Johnny Fever quote. Right now, in this context, paranoia is a survival skill. Let’s just make sure that we don’t have to do this forever, anywhere on Earth.

    Also, quoting Alphonso McKenzie, Director of SHIELD in the MCU: “One problem at a time.” First the USA, then the rest of the world. (Unless the locals of those other places are already solving their own problems on their own terms.)

  59. Looking forward to voting so that President Delicate FeeFees can lose his hometown by as many votes as possible.

  60. I’m living in Missouri. There is no early voting. You can vote by mail, without restrictions, if you’re 65 or older. You can vote by mail if it is notarized. However, there is NOT one ballot drop box and I’m having trouble finding my local board of election. Not sure that I would trust that anyway. I will be voting in person, with my mask and my “stay away from me” expression. I’m still tense and worried. I will be taking a pic of my ballot.

  61. But be aware that not all states allow any kind of drop-off option. In Tennessee, in fact, your ballot must be mailed (or UPS’d or FedExed) and mailed in time to be RECEIVED by Election Day. Look up your state’s rules and vote as early as you feasibly (and safely) can.

  62. Some random thoughts on remote voting, which I’ve been doing for (runs past all fingers and toes twice and gives up) years:

    I was a Voting Assistance Officer for seven years, as an additional duty. The number-one reason that mailed in ballots got questioned or rejected was not following the directions for handling them — leaving the ballot stub on, not signing and dating the outer envelope when that’s required (or doing so in a way that doesn’t match the registration signature on file), that sort of thing. The number two reason was failure to ensure that the legal name, voter registration record, and state-issued ID matched. The number of newly-married personnel and dependents who signed the envelope with their married name after NOT updating their registration was frighteningly high; the number whose voter registration was rejected because it didn’t match the driver’s license was annoyingly high, especially overseas (when there was little chance to update the driver’s license). That also goes for the exact form of name used — if one’s registration is “John Quincy Smith,” a signature of “John Q. Smith IV” isn’t going to be acceptable (and if the roman numerals aren’t on the driver’s license/other state ID it’s even more fun).

    I’m currently in an everyone-votes-by-mail state (Washington), but about 100km north of Seattle. Which means that the drop box right across the street from the Sheriff’s Office is not a secure location. Keep in mind that outside of the major metropolitan areas — or even in them, as in Cook, DuPage, San Diego, Oklahoma, and Los Angeles Counties (I’m sure there are others, those are just the ones I’ve got personal experience and/or documentation on) — the Sheriff’s Office generally has a… tradition… of inserting itself into local politics on the side of the Establishment, and specifically of so-called “Real Americans.”

  63. Melodee:

    Don’t take a picture of your ballot. In some states it’s a criminal offense, and it was a federal offense until 2003ish, if seldom enforced.

    I suppose no one will know if you just keep it on your phone until after Congress has certified the results of the election on 03 January (or however long it takes). But posting that photo on your social media feed/page/whateverthecoolkidscallitthesedays, not so much.

  64. Jaws – Fellow Washingtonian here, living in The Peoples’ Republic of Seattle. I didn’t know there were those kinds of shenanigans in our fair state! What exactly does the Sheriff’s office do? SFAIK you can’t tell looking at the envelope how the ballot inside is marked, so they can’t just dispose of the ballots en masse, and if they peek first, that despoils the envelope.

    Maybe you can organize some people to do a 24/7 watch over the drop-box? Or take the ballot directly to the nearest Board of Elections office.

  65. For years I’ve used this as my email address tag line: I don’t care who you vote for, but please thank me, a Vet, by voting and speaking your mind respectful of others.

    Are you willing to die to preserve someone else’s right to be wrong? If not, don’t whine about what others do with their freedom. Since when does your freedom include risking my life?
    The national anthem isn’t “ . . . home of the secure, and land of the fearful.” “Everything for the Vet.” LOL, his lips are moving . . .

    Remember, every State has different voting laws and procedures. Don’t assume. Find out from the Board of Elections or equilivent what is fact in your state or even jurisdiction. And if not able to vote in person, find out how to do it as early as possible. Never thought I’d give Uncle a blank check with my life for 27 years to see my country turning into a Banana Republic. The Republican Senate is beyond my limited ability to describe.

  66. No you are not paranoid. The GOP has turned voter suppression into an art form. We do not have early voting in my state and at this point I am not sure if I trust that if I vote by mail in ballot it will be counted so I am going to go to the polls in Nov and vote a straight Democractic ticket because fuck Trump and his GOP enablers. VOTE THEM ALL OUT.

  67. CaseyL:

    Whether it does this is unknown to me. What it could do is “geographical profiling” by “neglectfully” allowing things to happen to drop boxes located inside WhatPassesForBigCity, but assiduously ensuring the security of ballots deposited in the only town in Western Washington that had a Drumpf rally in 2016. All you need to do is look at the Sheriff’s reelection picture and Voter’s Guide profile, and note that he’s from that same town.

    What, you think that’s purely hypothetical “could”? I practiced in Cook County, and was stationed in Oklahoma County; it’s not paranoia when they really are out to get you (or your ballot).

  68. November would be a disaster waiting to happen even if Trump and his administration were scrupulous in their efforts to ensure a fair and open election. It’s entirely possible that one of the candidates (probably Trump in this scenario) will be ahead at the end of the night, but then the other candidate will pull ahead as the mail-in ballots are counted over the next few days (or maybe even weeks). Didn’t a similar scenario play out during the 2018 midterms? And there will be an order of magnitude more mail-in ballots this time around.

    Barring a genuinely unusual scenario (eg 269-269 and the House gives it to Biden) I’m not one of those people who think that Trump will make any serious attempt at a coup. If he loses, I believe he will ultimately accept the results (or at least leave the White House) when it’s clear that the GOP has no intention of backing him. (And they won’t, unless (again) there is a genuine constitutional crisis of some sort.) But he can, and will, certainly poison the water on his way out if he can find any way to delegitimize the results.

  69. “Try to get it in the mail at least two weeks before Election Day,”

    As someone who makes a living mailing people stuff every day, I am telling you this needs to be 3 weeks, not the 2 everyone is recommending. Right now my customers are reporting that our first class stamped envelopes are taking between 10-20 days to arrive. As we get closer to the election it is only going to get worse. If you must mail your ballot in, please try to make sure it’s mailed in the first week of October if you can.

  70. K, lesser of two evils still means one candidate is morally better than the other. And if you want to be a morally good voter, you have to vote for the morally better candidate.

  71. Got it in one!

    Biden wasn’t my first, second, third or even sixt choice but, and I can’t stress this enough, he’s my only choice now.

    A vote for him + down-ticket votes for every dem in sight is the best I can do to prevent American society from further devolving into a social Darwinist bigotopia.

  72. In New Jersey, each county board of elections has a number of secure ballot drop boxes scattered around the county. For the primary my wife and I mailed our ballots, but for the general I’m going to make sure that not only do we vote early, but that we use those secure drops to make sure that no USPS shenanigans screws up our votes.

  73. You’re not being paranoid.

    My state has had all mail voting for several years. And I was thinking we at least would be fine. Had the primary last week… and there was a story of someone trying to break into a ballot drop box in a neighboring county. And so I was suddenly reconsidering our usual routine of sitting at the table the first Sunday after the voter’s pamphlet arrives (it usually comes a week after the ballots for some reason), filling out our ballots (making snarky comments about some of the candidate statements), and then driving to the local library to put them in the drop box.

    After reading that story, I looked up the nearest election office and their hours. So I think I’m going to be driving our ballots there instead of trusting the drop box.

  74. Just recently talked to my dad about this to make sure he’s getting his ballot in early (he’s in lock-down in his nursing home). But I think he’d do it if he had to leave lock-down and deliver it himself to “get rid of that goddam son-of-a-bitch”.
    Voted every year since I was eligible but my earliest voting memory was going with my folks to the grade school to vote–probably ’64. It was impressed on me early that voting was an obligation.
    As an aside, I don’t blame Newsom for the problems with the resurgence. He never said “We’re re-opening so everyone go back to large gatherings and not wearing masks”. we were told to keep following guidelines.

  75. What really is a worrying trend is that the number of polling places are reduced, especially in areas where an “unfavorable” result is expected.
    In The Guardian “More than 1,000 US polling sites closed since supreme court ruling”, where Texas, Arizona and Georgia are the top states when it comes to this.

  76. Also, have to agree with clell65619, always a bit weird when I find out an author whose works I like is younger than me.

    I have only missed one election since 1980 (which was the first election I was old enough to participate in). I moved from the small town where I graduated from high school and attended community college in between the primary election (in which I voted) and the general in order to enroll in university and finish my degree… and in the process of moving, learning how to get along in a dorm, buying books, starting classes, et cetera, I missed the deadline to update my address. But in all of those years, that is the only election I’ve missed.

    And yes, I’ll be damned if I miss this one! Preach on, Brother Scalzi!

  77. The USPS has always been underfunded. What makes this year so different? I can almost positively guarantee that if this wasn’t an election year, nobody, and I mean nobody, from the people on this thread to the people in Congress and the Senate, would give a rat’s ass about the lack of funding for the USPS (btw, the only business in America that is forced to prepay every year their retirement benefits).

    And yes, I think the absolute vitriolic hatred that everyone hear has for the president, makes everyone look at life through Democratic party controlled rose colored glasses.

  78. my prediction? …blood in the streets in 2021

    …first we liberals/progressives/rationalists will protest, get the sh*t kicked outta us by police (and DHS and state troopers) then we’ll try the courts and only after trying everything else will we find the necessary courage to do onto them as they have done onto us

    …not too early to call it the Second American Civil War …in 2022 it will less about armies and bullets, more about using retail economics and boycotts and shunning and data reveals to hurt those soulless scum …but sometime in 2026 it will likely take bullets to convince them to restore the constitutional rights they’ve been stripping away for years ‘n years …hopefully by 2030 there will once again be democracy

    …assuming C19 does not kill 10% of us — it is already been confirmed in June as having mutated into three distinct strains — and thereby trash the economy

    suggest: those with small children stock up on foodstuffs enough for six months, especially powdered milk and multivitamins (no I was not a prepper before June, now I have quietly been doubling up on buying longer term foodstuffs)

    stay stubborn and refuse despair

  79. One week after Election Day, I (and my Evil British Twin, Neil Gaiman) will turn 60. I won’t be going out, because there’s a pandemic and also, there’ll be riots going on. If 45 loses by a tsunami, as I fervently hope, his core of deplorables will lose their fucking minds.

    I’ve worked as a temp at my county’s Elections office. The permanent staff is mostly older people, many of them “retired” from other careers. Dedicated and professional. I liked working there (even though the pay isn’t very good) because, unlike most corporate jobs, it’s providing an absolutely essential service. I’d feel the same way if I worked at the USPS (and my current employer is a trucking company that hauls exclusively for the USPS).

    I know what 45 is doing doesn’t meet the legal definition of treason. But morally, that’s what it is. Sabotaging a public service so important it’s in the Constitution, for personal political advantage, is a profound, contemptuous, unforgivable betrayal of the country that’s given him everything.

    If things go the wrong way in November, I think it’s the end of the U.S. as a republic.

  80. Wonder what UN Election Observers would say about US elections. “Partially free”? “Not free”? “Free in some states”?

  81. In the words of my friend After she saw the photos of long lines of voters in the in-person Wisconsin primary, “I would swim through a river of the coronavirus to vote this November.”

    The only extra risk factors I have for the virus are I’m old and fat. So, hearing that many old reliable poll workers have dropped out for this year, I’ve signed up to be there. I’m only one pair of honest worker bee hands, but I’ll do my best to help things go smoothly.

  82. I read an article several months ago that talked about the possibilities of Trump getting installed by the congress. I cannot remember all the details exactly (any constitutional scholars out there who can?) but the gist of it was that if a State cannot confirm a winner for their electoral votes the decision on who to elect devolves to the congress where EACH STATE GETS ONE VOTE. Trump would win that as more states are red than blue.

    That is Trumps plan.

    You are not paranoid.

    Voting early (if possible your area with ballot safety and security) is common sense in the current political environment.

    Speaking of paranoia and common sense…..My dad had a saying….Paranoia in small doses is the first part of common sense. The trouble comes when you take big doses of paranoia. That’s when the guys in the long white coats with the funny looking jacket and the rubber walled truck show up.

  83. @ Janne:

    “Wonder what UN Election Observers would say about US elections. “Partially free”? “Not free”? “Free in some states”?”

    I mean, the status of human rights in the US should already be giving the UN cause for concern. Police executing people in the streets, “little green men” dragging protesters into unmarked vans. Conservatives have moved from hiding their voter suppression efforts to touting them as political victories. We’ve sunk below Burkina Faso on the press freedom index.

    Things have deteriorated beyond UN Election Observer salvaging. We might need the Blue Helmets soon.

  84. I plan to personally vote, masked, as it won’t pose any more risk than my job. For those in other circumstances, mail in & early ballots, if available, Yes.

  85. This, this is why we’re still in Florida, despite being able to relocate to a less Covid-ridden state if we wanted to (we live in an RV). Early primary voting was this month. Early voting for the national election starts at the end of October. We’ll be there, likely on opening day. Over the summer we were getting a lot of calls, ostensibly from the Democratic party, pushing us to go to mail-in voting. I was dubious then because of some of the info I had about how mail-in ballots were counted in Florida. As this disaster unfolds, I’m ever more thankful that we made the call to vote in person. I pray it will be enough.

  86. My wife always said that Trump could ruin our democracy and I always insisted that 4 years, or even 8, just wasn’t enough time to do permanent damage. I always believed that our democracy was tougher than that. Now though, I’m beginning to believe that even though she passed last year, she’s still winning arguments with me.

  87. I live in one of the bluer parts of festering corrupt red Florida. The only time I ever tried to use a mail-in ballot, it mysteriously failed to reach my house in my very blue suburb. I had to go in person to one of the early voting sites, request a replacement ballot, and wait for a long time in a long line. I was the only white face in that long line.

    I voted there and then, and I will not trust anything less this time around. This time, I’m less afraid of mail tampering and more afraid that my ballot will be rejected by the red-state lackeys whose only training is How To Reject SIgnatures on Unwanted Ballots.

    The only reason we have our current governor is that last time around, they managed to reject enough mailed ballots from Democratic areas. Maybe a different governor wouldn’t have given us half a million Covid cases.

  88. I’m stuck in a state I don’t live in until the virus dies down enough that I feel OK leaving my parents alone, and I don’t think that’ll change by November, so I’ll have to mail my ballot. I plan to do so super early, and then I’m going to go be a volunteer poll monitor/facilitator in my nearest city, giving out water to people in line and escorting people who might otherwise face intimidation. (And then quarantining myself in an Air BnB for two weeks before going home.) Meanwhile, I’m texting people to help them get their ballots/applications for same in early and validly.

    If other people are interested in doing the same, https://protectthevote.net/ is the link I followed for poll monitoring, and https://www.whenweallvote.org/texting/ and https://www.standupamerica.com/action-center/#/ for texting.

  89. 1) Happy that my current state (PA) finally allowed mail-in without demonstration of need (this being one of many shifts in moving from [coastal] CA to [central] PA. I got on the permanent absentee ballot list for the primary, so they’ll be sending a ballot directly.

    2) Amusing-then-chilling-now aside from simpler days – I first became an absentee voter when I went off to college (a couple decades back), but it actually took two rounds to become one: The first absentee ballot request I mailed out from my dorm, or, rather, about a third of it, came back in the mail with a “we’re sorry we damaged your article” note from the USPS. By the time I could send another request and get my ballot, it was so close to the election that I had to pay $$ to overnight the ballot to my parents for physical drop off on election day. My current paranoia would attribute any similar occurrence in the coming months to malice rather than incompetence.

    3) The quoted text at the top of the article reads “This is administration is” – methinks the first “is” needs an editor’s ungentle touch

  90. I don’t think it’s paranoia at all. Drop boxes for ballots are being limited, the Post Office is being directed to remove mailboxes in some cities/states (like Eugene, OR). First class mail is taking 2-3 weeks to get through. The Trump administration is trying as hard as possible to steal or invalidate the election.

    The rules vary very much by state about how soon before the election you need to register, if/how to get a mail-in ballot, when it needs to be postmarked or received, whether or not you can vote early.
    Find out what the rules are for where you live. Make sure you’re registered. Then vote. Volunteer to drop off ballots (if legal in your state) to drop boxes for friends/neighbors, etc. Volunteer to be a poll worker if you are willing to take the risk because of COVID. Ask the people you know if they’re registered.

  91. Here where I am in Cook County Illinois I’ve already requested my mail-in ballot. It will be mailed beginning Sept 24. We can then drop our ballots off at an early voting location and bypass the post office if it is still not properly funded and run by then.

  92. Voting is critical, this cycle is more important than ever. Mail or in-person, just get it done. For those that can, seriously consider volunteering to staff a polling location. I don’t expect the usual crowd of senior citizens to be available, nor do I want to expose them.

  93. Thank you for the P.S.A., you are so right. Right, right, right. I plan to do the same down in NC.

  94. @ Justice for the corpse

    Yup…that was the article I read.

    And I truly think that is Trump’s plan.

    oops…I meant to say Bill Barr’s plan (since Trump couldn’t think his way out of a wet paper bag)

  95. @GB Miller
    “The USPS has always been underfunded. What makes this year so different? ”

    Happy to oblige. uSPS has only been underfunded since R Congress required it to fund 75 years’ worth of pensions in advance.

    What’s different about this year: This is the first year in which the Postmaster General is not only a donor to the President (sic) but also heavily invested in competitors with the very service he’s supposed to run. And he’s sabotaging the USPS in a year when its services are more necessary than usual owing to the number of people killed and endangered by his boss’ corrupt ineptitude, in order to sabotage a free and legitimate election.

  96. Sent this post on to some family and friends who might have been taken aback. But oh well. Prompted me to join my local League of Women voters. Will also be posting info about how to vote and vote safely on social media on an ongoing basis until Nov 3. As well as asking everyone I know to do the same. This is the fight folks.

  97. Need the T-shirt. I had the “I voted for Bill and Opus” way back when, and Berkeley has a new one out, but I’d wear the “F*ck you, I voted” all day long.

  98. Florida has Early Voting as well as Mail-in Ballot boxes at the county elections offices, so either way should avoid the mail fckups and voter suppression (did you know that off-duty cops working as election observers can now show up in-uniform to intimidate the sh-t out of people?) trump is hoping to commit for Election Day.

  99. I want to remind all US citizens living abroad that you have the right to vote in all federal elections (and depending on your reasons for living outside of the USA, you may also have the right to vote in local/state elections).

    Some states even allow you to email or fax your ballots back if you live abroad. (NJ, where I vote, is a state that allows this option.) Taking the option to fax or email the ballot back means your ballot is no longer a secret ballot, but at this point I have decided ensuring that my vote arrives and is counted is more important. For information on the Federal Government’s Voting Assistance Program for US citizens living outside of the country (including US military posted abroad), see https://www.fvap.gov which offers information on each state’s requirements for requesting a ballot and a pdf form that you can fill out to request your ballot.

    And even if you live abroad, you can still support the effort to help elect Democratic candidates by joining and supporting Democrats Abroad, the Democratic Party’s official group for US citizens who are living outside of the USA (https://www.democratsabroad.org).

    I have already requested by federal elections ballot from NJ and I have the date circled on which is supposed to be emailed to me. I’m planning to email it back that same day.

  100. I’m glad that I live in Colorado for many reasons. This year, one of them is that we’ve been doing mail-in voting for several years, and we’ve got the procedures all well-organized. There are drop boxes and in-person voting available in addition to the USPS. Some of the rural counties are even adding new drop boxes. (Our counties are often large, and driving an hour or so over some of our roads in the gathering gloom is non-trivial.) I’m in Denver; my nearest drop box is in a lovely park. Yes, it’s a walk in the park for me to vote! I will most certainly do so–never missed an election since I turned 21, I’m certainly not missing this one, and I’m a yellow-dog-Democrat.

  101. I wish I were confident that we would remove the orange cancer and his enablers, but visiting the in-laws and driving in N OH makes me less confident – people are pretty much implacably married to Trump (Biden is not competent to be President) and are tired of corona (and decided that it’s the media and liberals’ fault for trying to get rid of it rather than Trump and his people’s). Blackmailing Ukraine, trying to kill the USPS…I keep hoping that there will be something that will actually make people change how they look at the GOP and Trump, but no. I wonder if they just think that none of it matters. Finding out that that’s not true will be costly.

    If Trump comes back…it’s going to be hard to tell whether we are that far gone (whether people want Trump and his people) or if Trump has finally found something he can do competently (election fraud). It probably doesn’t matter. At least I know where to go to vote in person.

  102. I saw on the news that your Secretary of State, Frank “I’m an ASSHOLE” LaRose, has limited drop boxes to only one per county in Ohio because, fuck you for voting! I’m sure they’ll attempt similar shenanigans in my state of Indiana as well. Jesus.

  103. @GB Miller
    I know, right? Who could have guessed that people would suddently care a lot about loss of a service exactly when they need to use that service? Clearly this is severe TDS.

  104. In California, you can drop off your absentee ballot at any open polling place. You can turn in a completed ballot or, if you’ve made a mistake, request a new one, *even if it isn’t your assigned polling place*. (Although it may not include relevant local races if it isn’t your polling place). You can also track your absentee ballot online and go correct it if there are any problems with it.

    Good luck out there, everyone!

  105. @G.B. Miller:

    Translation: How dare anyone decry aggressive, widespread voter suppression when its results are going to work out for me, mine and every other CIS SWM in the nation!

    Never mind the million bigot/covidiot march we’d see if a democrat were pulling the same tactics.

    I can see it now.

    Cops studiously ignoring scores of enraged, bare-faced walking arsenals as they implement “second amendment solutions” all across the country.

    It’d be big red button time for every gun-fetishist right-winger and libertarian in the land; “you see?! The time has come to wrench our stolen property out of the hands of this oppressive socialist gubmint!”

    And again, it would seriously behoove you to review one of the “lowest difficulty setting” offshoots for Ann Somerville’s warning about the consequences of prolonged, systematic oppression.

    Also, provided you can stand the sight of a black man, take a look at what Dave Chapelle has to say about patience and “civil discourse.”

    TL; DR: I wouldn’t count on some despotic, autocratic bigotopia, no matter who wins.

    This ain’t the 1960s, and it sure as hell ain’t my grandma’s civil rights movement.

  106. @K and others all concerned about Biden.

    Do you know what you get with the lesser of two evils? You get less evil.

    Biden is a self serving douche, but I’m voting for him anyway.

  107. @Nan S and Isabel:

    Like every other frontline worker in this country, you have my thanks and appreciation.

    Please, please take care at the polls.

    And thanks to everyone else for the links.

  108. K, dont know if you are lurking or gave up, but the one thing i would add is this:

    You cant make voting your only engagement in a democracy.

    By the time we get to a general election, especially presidential election, there are only 2 options and if the choice is lesser of 2 evils, its too late to do anything else: the less evil choice is the only moral choice.

    If you want better options, voting day is too late. Election year is too late. You would need to be engaged years before then. Stumping for the issues you want to see change. Supporting the politicians you want to see move up the ladder. Advocating for politicians to change for the better. Holding fire to the feet of politicians when they screw up.

    And I will admit there are folks who relate to the Democratic party such that they will make it hard for you to call out bad behavior in the party.

    I remember when Obama extended the Patriot Act for 4 more years. And party hacks who cried bloody murder when Bush started that terrible law, shrugged their shoulders when Obama continued that terrible law.

    All you can do is point out when the politicians fail and hope it moves the needle. The die hards will never change, but change does happen.

    I remember when Bill Clinton was considered a progressive for pushing dont ask dont tell. Prior to that, being gay in the military was a courtmartial offense. Now orientation is not an issue to serve and young dems consider Bill Clinton a dinosaur for pushing something as bad (by todays standards) as dont ask dont tell.

    So progress continues to be made. You just have to keep nudging the needle, keep supporting long term development of good voters and politicians, keep criticizing your representatives when they screw up, and ignore the folks who see criticism as first blood.

    Voting is the last step of a multiyear long cycle of improvement.

  109. nobody, and I mean nobody, from the people on this thread to the people in Congress and the Senate, would give a rat’s ass about the lack of funding for the USPS

    The people who depend on USPS every day to receive their medications or to run their small business would give an entire rat’s colony of asses in any year where mailboxes were being pulled off streets, mail sorting machines removed from facilities, and the person appointed by the USPS made money off its competition.

    But what a weird flex to say that people are only mad about its impact on elections in an election year. I bet people are also madder about their roofs leaking when it rains! Crazy, amirite?

  110. Thank you, John and others, for pointing out the vulnerability of drop boxes. I’d thinking they’d be more reliable this year in our mail-in-only state, Oregon. John L (hi from Nancy!) mentions library drop boxes, but we’ve usually used one that is out in the middle of a commercial parking lot.

    Portland is famously liberal, but we’ve been invaded before by rightwingnuts, the armed Proud Boys. Hmmm. Down to the County elections office with our ballots, and NOT on the last possible day, for us!

  111. Could federal law set certain minimums for voting infrastructure? Like a minimum number of voting locations per voter, maximum travel distance for voters to get to a location? Could federal law mandate nationwide vote-by-mail

    And while we’re at it, could federal law set minimum requirements to reduce gerrymandering.

  112. Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply to my post directly. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

  113. Dear K,

    If it’s any consolation, a lot of Republicans feel they’re in the same situation as you.

    The ultimate truth is that it’s your vote. If you genuinely feel that Biden will be actively bad for the country or the future of the Democratic party (that’s very different from merely being not-good), vote for the third party of your choice. I don’t think Biden’s anything like that (and I’m way more radical than most of the commenters here), but you get to decide.

    Anyone who tells you how you have to vote, or even demands to know how you voted, that’s a clear “Eff Off!” We have secret ballots for a reason.

    pax / Ctein

  114. I have confirmed that I’m registered, confirmed that I will receive my ballot within 29 days of election day, that I can begin voting as early as October 5th, and I have signed up for BallotTrax so that I’ll know exactly where my ballot is and that it has been counted.

    Orange wanna-be dictator isn’t going to stop ME from voting!

  115. HTFrankel
    August 14, 2020, 5:09 pm

    Could federal law…

    Sadly no. Voting is largely regulated by the states.

  116. Voting is a tactical decision. You place your vote on what’s going to get you to the closest you want. In the national system, it is, unfortunately, a binary decision.

    But remember, you choose your candidate AND you choose the consequences of your choice. Don’t be a dick and run away from that responsibility.

  117. I have just volunteered to drive people to vote. I’m in NY, we strongly encourage in person voting, so volunteers help people get to the polls. If you can’t handle being a poll worker for any reason but want to help, it’s easier to insist that one person at a time wears a mask and cleans their hands than to be at a polling site all day. Here it’s managed by the political parties, to help get out the vote.

    And I’ll also drive people to drop off absentee ballots or for any other voting related activity.

  118. L.A. county is going to all vote-by-mail this fall, after having effed up the primary quite thoroughly. They’ve already sent me a confirmation of registration, and the ballots will start going out Oct 5.

  119. Just a couple of additional comments —

    It wasn’t just “an R Congress” that made the USPS — uniquely among all American corporations, including even asbestos-injury funds — fund its potential pension and health obligations fully for 75 years into the future (using a discount rate set at 1% above the rate of inflation). The bill doing so was sponsored and pushed by an R Representative from Memphis and an R Representative from Atlanta, and Georgia and Tennessee Senators. Gee, where are two major competitors for the USPS headquartered… Now through in the Direct Mail Association’s decades-long whingeing about how much it costs to send ads (for example, those weekly grocery store ads cost the consolidator about 15% of the actual handling and delivery cost incurred by the USPS).

    Clarification on throwing the election into the House:
    (1) It only happens if nobody gets to 270. Let’s say, hypothetically, that four states with a total of 41 electoral votes can’t declare their electoral-college winners… but that if all four declared for Biden, he’d have 328 electoral votes. (Those numbers are not out of thin air, they’re based on 538.org stuff.) Subtract 41 from 328 and Biden would have 287, which is more than 270 so Congress doesn’t get to choose after all. Schade.
    (2) The House does the vote, and each state votes “as a whole.” If a state has no majority after the new members are seated on 03 January, it doesn’t get to vote. Looking at several different electoral maps, there is a significant chance that at least two currently R-held states will deadlock with even numbers of members from each party, meaning that those states wouldn’t cast Presidential ballots. Which, of course, leads back into a positive feedback loop regarding ballots to elect the Congresscritters…

    Finally, on mailbox removal: Yes, there is a federal cause of action available: Racial discrimination under § 1983. I’m not going to drag “disparate impact” and all of the other technical stuff in there, but there’s a real chance that a properly constructed lawsuit asserting that this closure of a government service has an intentional and disproportionate impact on communities of color could not just survive, but thrive. The problem is the availability (and effectiveness) of remedies, and now we’re really getting into scholarly debates in the law reviews. The key barrier is that the courts do not have the power to demand that the federal government spend on programs, so the courts can’t direct the federal government to spend. They can require the government to pay damages; they can require the government to comply with certain other kinds of orders; but they can’t nakedly order spending. And that is precisely how the current USPS situation has been characterized — no spending approval, therefore must limit services.

  120. tRump and melanoma requested mail in ballots listing their address as Mar-a-Lago. Trump agreed in writing years ago to change the use of the Mar-a-Lago property from a single-family residence to a private club owned by a corporation he controls. The distinction is significant. The property is taxed as a private club — not as a residence, according to Ptalm Beach County property appraiser records. Trump’s own attorney assured local officials in Palm Beach before they voted to approve the club in 1993 that he would not live there. 


  121. I was thinking I was paranoid when I posted “blood the streets” but more I’ve been reading the less it seems I am alone in thinking that… Q: who do we contact to get international observers at polling places?

    …I cannot believe I just that thought **whimpering into my blankey**

  122. ctein: “If you genuinely feel that Biden will be actively bad for the country … vote for the third party of your choice.”

    “Anyone who tells you how you have to vote…, that’s a clear “Eff Off!” ”

    In US pres elections, voting third party is morally the same as not voting at all. If you are given a choice between two evils, anything other than voting for the lesser evil is …. wait for it… MORE EVIL

    If you dont like the way US pres elections work, if you want ranked ballots, if you want better candidates, if you want better tally systems, if you want a system that is LESS EVIL, great. But dont tell me you want a less evil system and then vote in a way that helps MORE EVIL run the nation for four more years. If thats what you do, then you voted for more evil.

    I wont tell someone how to vote, but certainly not going to let someone lie about the moral consequences of their actions.

  123. Dear HT,

    No, they are not the same. They have different real world political consequences. There are also strategic as well as tactical considerations.

    But don’t expect me to waste my time arguing this with someone who has demonstrated they aren’t remotely smart enough to understand any of this and who calls me a liar.

    Do expect me to tell you to Eff Off.

    Consider it done.

    Most sincerely yours,


  124. @HTFrankel

    WRT Bill Clinton and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I was active duty Navy when Bill Clinton got elected. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell wasn’t what Clinton advocated for, it was the compromise between what he wanted -full lifting of prohibitions like we have now- and the retrograde dinosaurs that were running the GOP even then.

    When he got elected and advocated for gays in the military, people lost their shit. We had congressmen come aboard our ship on “fact finding” tours. The *vast* majority of sailors were adamantly opposed to it. This was a time when women weren’t allowed to serve on combatant vessels, and the common refrain was “I don’t want no fag lookin’ at my ass!”

    On a ship with 2,500 crew, and an additional 2,500 air wing when deployed, I was one of *two* people I knew of who was for it. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell may not have been perfect, but it beat the hell out of the no-knock warrants that were being executed by NIS on gay sailors, and given the environment at the time, was about as good a solution as we were going to get. Anyone knocking Bill Clinton over DADT doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

  125. Dear Jerome,

    Yeah, pretty much. Except it wasn’t the Republicans who jammed DADT down B. Clinton’s throat, it was the Democrats. Clinton came into office with the Democrats owning the Executive and Legislative branches. They could do whatever they wanted. What the Blue Dogs and other right-wingers in the Democratic Party (RWDs) decided to do was oppose the most progressive initiatives from the White House. Not just serious gay rights, but major environmental initiatives and… wait for it… universal healthcare.

    The Democrats killed all three, not the Republicans, and in the case of healthcare they slagged H. Clinton so viciously and unfairly (and sexistly) that she decided she was never going to stick her neck out that way again if she wanted to survive politically.

    The RWD’s argument for why they had to do this was that their constituents would never stand for such radical changes and if they supported them the party would lose control. So they obstructed the president on the most notable initiatives and thereby managed to retain control of Congress in 1994.

    Oh wait. Wrong timeline.

    Yeah, that strategy worked out really well, didn’t it?

    Why might this be germane? Because when Obama came into office, with the same instruments of control, I asked a friend of mine who’s well-placed in the Democratic machine if they had learned the lesson of 1992-94, or were we going get a replay of the Clinton years? They assured me that oh, yes, the Democratic Party well remembered how badly that had worked out they weren’t going to make the same mistake twice.

    Oh wait. They did. Obama’s agenda looked remarkably similar to the original Clintons’ and it fell to exactly the same fate. And so did the Democratic Party.

    Lest this sound like ancient history…

    Sadly, what has become the official Democratic “party line” is that it was Republican obstructionism that prevented either administration from making the most meaningful changes. Which was true for the remaining six years of each administration. What they don’t acknowledge it was their own Party that was the obstructionist for the first two years, when the RWD were the only obstacle to meaningful change.

    I am keeping my fingers crossed that a Biden/Harris administration won’t fall victim to the same Party self-sabotage. I can’t say I am terribly hopeful.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 

  126. “In US pres elections, voting third party is morally the same as not voting at all.”

    Ctein: “No, they are not the same. They have different real world political consequences. There are also strategic as well as tactical considerations.”

    Nope. The only people who say that sort of nonsense are third party voters who want to ignore the damage their vote did. The people who voted for Nader ended up helping W Bush win. But the Nader voters will never take responsibility for the bad outcomes of their vote. They only want to take responsibility for the “good” stuff they imagine in their minds that their third party vote did.

    If you vote for Jo Jorgensen this november, thats your choice, but you will be helping Trump possibly defeat Biden, and you are responsible for that whether you accept that responsibility or not. Not voting at all this November is possibly helping Trump beat Biden, and you are responsible for that as well.

    Third party voters who refuse to acknowledge the damage their vote does are irresponsible and lying by ommission.

    Jerome: i understand. DADT was a compromise improvement from what was, and gay rights have improved since then.

    my point was, if someone back in the 80’s was complaining about gays being oppressed, but all they did was vote every 4 years, they wont have much of any impact.

    K was complaining about Trump and Biden being a choice between the lesser of two evils. And I was trying to tell K they have to do a lot more than just vote every 4 years to get better candidates for president. Gay rights certainly didnt improve because of presidential elections alone.

    And gay rights is a good example of what is possible when people advocate, protest, fight, lobby, and do more than just vote.