October 30, 2020

Notes Before the 2020 Election

[Pulled from the archives; much has changed since I began this draft; started sometime in August 2020 – finished 29 October 2020]

Like many, I have expressed grave concerns for the coming election in November 2020.

Like many, I am worried that it will not go without serious incident.

My worries are not limited to non-violent voter suppression in the forms of gerrymandering, attacks on mail-in voting, systematic closure of polling sites unrelated to the pandemic, voter roll purges, voter ID laws, failure to provide accessible voting sites, and more.

In watching events unfold after the Executive Order was announced regarding the protection of federal property and monuments, I became acutely worried about the potential ramifications that this Order may have on voters in November. Many factors are at play here so please be patient. Maybe get a beverage.

One point must be noted first. The Executive Order applies not only to federal property and monuments, but also to religious property. And it specifies churches. Christian churches. And depictions of Jesus. Perhaps it also includes other religious property, but the wording emphasises Christian property.

Some might ask how this is related to elections.

Churches are frequently used as polling locations. Some claim that people whose polling sites are located at a church are subjected to undue subconscious influence on their votes. I won’t go into that because I honestly do not know much about it. But there are some obvious problems that The Church Law Centre of California addresses in a brief article. One of these is that churches must be sure that their members refrain from passing out religious material to voters.

I actually wrote a Twitter thread summarising what this could mean for certain polling sites back in July. It can be found here. The short of it is that the Executive Order confirms existing law in using federal agents to defend and protect certain properties if they are deemed to be under threat. In some ways, I had to wait awhile to finish writing the rest of this because most of the time, I sound like I’m paranoid when I write things like that Twitter thread and try to share it. And yes, I was told that I was “overthinking” and “nothing would happen” and that it was too much.

I think most people don’t realise that I prefer to be wrong.

We have now come to the point in time where people are going to start coming to me asking “why didn’t you tell us sooner?”

And. Well. It’s there. It’s all there. No mysticism necessary.

After witnessing federal agents attack protesters and press in Washington DC and the ongoing back-and-forth about who (federal, state, or city law enforcement) can attack protesters and press in Portland, we might be left to wonder what will happen on Election Day as voter intimidation intensifies.

In some places, voting is already tense with polling sites seeing some individuals feeling the need to bring guns with them in Michigan. In Ohio, a fight actually broke out. One voting site in Florida comes to particular interest. Some voters in Broward county report to Markham Park which doubles as a target range. While the target range obviously is not in use during voting, it is still a strange choice. According to public records, Broward county leans Democrat. Democrats in Florida have been targeted by voter intimidation tactics, including a sinister seeming email campaign in which the sender outright threatens Democrat voters if they vote for their own party in the election. While the tactic has allegedly not been linked to any groups operating within the United States, it is still bound to have a chilling effect. Local news agency, the Sun Sentinel, has reported that Broward county has pledged to set up a command centre to monitor Election Day activity in case violence occurs. How effective this will be in a state with broad Stand Your Ground laws and a Federal Executive Order of protection for specific property (not people). At least Florida does not face the problem Michigan does with open carry laws.As for post-election, some states, such as Washington and Texas, have called their National Guard in anticipation of post-election violence. And this is hardly unprecedented after what occurred after the 2016 election. Protests and violence erupted across the country for several days.

In one case, an officer was quoted as arresting someone “for being an idiot” – and I suspect this will be the case again. Except now it will be at a polling site. Because of a fight. For people breaking rule of law, rule of etiquette, rule of decency. In many of the live streams I’ve witnessed, officers have been overheard

I guess it’s safe to say that by now if anyone expects this election to go by smoothly, well, they’re probably going to be in for a surprise. What remains to be seen is exactly how hard our Dear Leader is going to cling to his position if the odds are not in his favour. All signs indicate that he will try everything in the book and then some more as he idolises some of the most dictatorial leaders in the world.

Regardless, at minimum we’re stuck with him until late January. And that is enough time to do some terrible things.

I think what I fear most is complacency in either case. As Americans, we have had this sense of “doom” if he wins. That it’s over, that we have somehow lost. And if he doesn’t, and somehow leaves office willingly, we will see a “win” and settle right back into the usual oppression at a level that too many people found tolerable.

Neither of these things are acceptable.

We cannot stop.

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N. M. Baudelaire
N M Baudelaire

COMMENTS

One comment on “Notes Before the 2020 Election

    […] In close races or close jurisdictions, recounts will be likely. None of this is new. This is not evidence of a conspiracy. A conspiracy would look like everything else we have already seen: the attempts to delay the election, attempts to invalidate legal votes, automatically purging voter registries, quietly gerrymandering, and everything else that makes voting more difficult (as noted here). […]

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