The Attack on Voting

By: Richard Calkins

In recent tweets, President Trump falsely claimed that”2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT (caps his) Election in history”, going on that mail balloting is bad and absentee balloting is good.  This, of course, is a distinction without a difference.  Moreover, Trump claims that mail balloting is only good in Florida and Arizona with Republican governors, who Trump claims are better organized, despite the epic failures of both to control the coronavirus.  Not good in Nevada, with a Democratic governor, where Trump has filed suit to stop mail balloting.

It is all the more perplexing in that several Republican states, including Utah, Ohio, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and countless others have been voting by mail for years, but no legal action will be forthcoming.  It’s clear that Trump is trying to distract from his shamefully incompetent handling of the pandemic, the economy, and his stoking racial divisions that have occurred in this country.  He’s even suggested delaying the election, which he can’t do, because he claims, without evidence, that mail balloting is corrupt and can be manipulated.

But that claim is nonsense.  Ballots come with identifiers (bar codes are mostly used) which are unique to each voter.  Each jurisdiction uses different types of paper, envelope widths and other characteristics.  Signatures on ballots are matched to existing records.  Election offices keep track of how many ballots are sent, how many get returned and by whom.  Two-thirds of the states allow people to vote absentee for any reason, and five more including Republican states, have voted entirely by mail, some for decades.  There has been virtually no fraud over several years of mail-in elections, not the sort of widespread fraud that Trump and his criminally complicit Attorney General William Barr, have been railing on about.

One would think that if Trump and Barr see a problem, they would use all federal resources to insure that there would be a smooth functioning and safe election during this pandemic by providing funds to states for early voting, mail voting and election day registration.  Congress has provided, thus far, a measly $400 million, when $4 billion will be required.  Trump continues to badger states with Democratic governors, refusing to assist in any way. 

Trump continues to try to undermine the US Post Office and has appointed a crony, Louis DeJoy, to dismantle and slow delivery of the flood of mail ballots that are inevitable, not to mention needed medicines, Social Security checks and other necessary mail.  Sorting machines are being removed.  DeJoy has millions invested in FedEx and UPS, and has every reason to dismantle the Post Office.  If anyone is trying to rig an election, it’s Trump, who finds himself trailing Joe Biden by double digits in the polls.

In Barack Obama’s eulogy to John Lewis, who risked his life for the right to vote, he said that “We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot, but even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations,  and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, evening undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”

Obama ticked off Lewis’ “marching orders”:  revive the Voting Rights Act, undo the “flood of laws designed to make voting harder…in order to suppress the votes of a growing minority population”, automatic voter registration, voting rights for released felons, expanded early voting, a national holiday for election day, and representation for DC and Puerto Rico.

It’s clear that Trump and most of the Republican Party are not interested in free and fair elections.  They know that they are likely to lose the presidency, the Senate, and once again the House.  Trump, Putin’s “useful idiot” continues to tolerate Russian meddling in our elections.  Republican senators Ron Johnson and Lindsey Graham continue to carry Putin’s water through sham hearings on Hunter Biden.  It’s time to heed John Lewis’ marching orders.  Our democracy depends on it.


Richard Calkins is a member of the Talbot County Democratic Forum.  He writes from Tilghman.


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