Democrats and their establishment media partners are likely to scream about long lines in heavily urban districts and “intimidating” poll watchers deployed by Republicans as part of their regular accusations of “voter suppression” on Nov. 3. But given the dominant role mail-in voting has assumed in coronavirus-affected 2020, the real heat may flame in the counting of ballots. With that in mind, here are key situations in crucial battleground states to anticipate.
If Pennsylvania is close, as it was in 2016, all eyes will turn to the City of Brotherly Love, the largest metropolitan area in the Keystone State and thoroughly dominated by Democrats. Blue backers will be quick to attribute GOP Philly suspicions to racism, but that is not likely to dissuade Republicans. The problems have been festering there for too long. As Joe DeFelice, chairman of the Philadelphia Republican City Committee, told PennLive.com in 2019:
“In Philadelphia, there’s constant Republican disenfranchisement going on. It’s happening all the time. Everyone talks about the big bad boogey man of the Republican poll watcher. But if it wasn’t for our poll watchers, we wouldn’t know about half the stuff that’s going on.”
It’s not like genuine voter fraud is unheard of in Philadelphia. In March, a former elections judge, Domenick J. DeMuro, pleaded guilty to “fraudulently stuffing the ballot boxes for specific Democratic candidates in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections,” a Justice Department release stated.
“The Judge of Elections is an elective office and a paid position. In that role, DeMuro was responsible for overseeing the entire election process and voter activities of his Division,” the DOJ elaborated.
Oh, yes, those Philadelphia electoral divisions. They became a source of controversy in 2012 when it was revealed that 59 inner-city divisions failed to record a single vote for Republican Mitt Romney in his race against President Barack Obama. “The final score in those divisions? President Obama: 19,605, Romney, 0,” is how Philadelphia magazine put it.
Throw the tidal wave of mail-in balloting into this mix, and it’s not hard to anticipate even more post-Election Day acrimony. A Financial Times article on Oct. 10 that went out of its way to downplay GOP fears of voter fraud in the city admitted that mail balloting will be problematic:
“While [President] Trump’s fraud claims may be hollow, even his foes acknowledge that it will be challenging for Philadelphia to deal with an unprecedented flood of mail ballots. In the June primaries, which served as a dry run, 14,600 of them arrived after the deadline and the US postal service struggled.”
Mail-in balloting brings the issue of signature matching to the fore in Florida. If a ballot is rejected for a mismatched signature from voter registration files, this can be “cured” by the voter by Nov. 5. In a tight election, the number of signature-matching cases can take on added significance.
As the news site Florida Today explains:
“In past years, the process of examining mail-in ballots and checking signatures on ballots that were being considered for rejection by a county’s voter canvassing board was a public affair attended by party officials and anybody else interested. But a court case this summer threw the procedure into question over the concern that the secrecy of a voter’s ballot would be compromised in a precinct with only a single vote cast.”
Democrats have expressed ire at the notion of signatures being rejected outside of the public eye. “If there’s a signature mismatch then there needs to be the opportunity for observers to at least see what was determined (by the canvassing board) to be a mismatch,” Jon Mills, “an attorney who is volunteering with the Biden campaign,” told Florida Today.
In other words, if Florida has another 2000 George W. Bush-Al Gore scenario, the process of determining how and why signatures on mail-in ballots are rejected has the potential to mushroom into an especially contentious issue.
“As of [Oct. 26], nearly 3.8 million mail ballots had been cast in Florida, of which 15,574 had been rejected, a rate of 0.4 percent,” Politico reported Oct. 27. But some observers see that number expanding greatly after Nov. 3.
“Historically, about 60 percent of rejected ballots come in late,” University of Florida political scientist Dan Smith told Politico. “This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of those rejected.”
Signature matching will not be the only potential fault line in Florida. Broward County, a heavily Democratic section of the state north of Miami, was home to voter-fraud allegations during the 2018 U.S. Senate race in which Republican Rick Scott defeated longtime Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.
Liberty Nation reported at the time:
“In 2012, the Florida Secretary of State found that 53,000 dead people were registered to vote in the state. One of the key points in the federal lawsuit filed against [Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda] Snipes’ election office is the unreasonably high voter registration records in Broward County. One way to get the rolls artificially high is to keep the dead registered.
“‘Snipes said she does not use Social Security death records to check up on extremely old voters – like age 130. She waits for a death certificate to fall in her lap. She won’t even look at local obituaries as a starting point,’ Logan Churchwell of the Public Interest Legal Foundation told The Daily Signal.
“This is how you can ‘find’ new ballots after the election has taken place. With voter rolls artificially high, you can create ballots out of thin air and still not exceed the voter registration count. Nearly 80,000 new ballots have been discovered in Broward County since Election Night. To no one’s surprise, they are steadily chipping away at Republican Rick Scott’s lead over Democrat Nelson.”
Under heavy pressure, Snipes announced her resignation on Nov. 18, 2018.
Motor City Mayhem
Michigan is another state that may draw intense scrutiny. Eric Eggers, research director at the Government Accountability Institute, penned an informative account of battleground-state fraud possibilities for Breitbart on Oct. 28. According to Eggers, the Democrat-controlled city of Detroit operates its voter rolls a lot like Broward County. He wrote:
“In Michigan’s recent primary, recorded ballot counts in 72 percent of Detroit’s absentee voting precincts didn’t match the number of ballots cast, spurring officials in Michigan’s largest county to ask the state to launch an investigation.
“This is not the first time Detroit has had issues with vote accuracy issues. In 2019, the state was sued over the fact that Detroit’s voter rolls contained 30,000 more registered voters than there were citizens of legal voting age. And, while that lawsuit was withdrawn in June after the city addressed the issues, last year a Detroit elections official was charged with elections fraud over falsifying nearly 200 absentee ballot records in an attempt to make the numbers line up.”
If any of these three states’ results remain tight after Nov. 3, as mail-in ballots continue to roll in, there will be plenty to argue about on the way to identifying the next president.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.