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Someone told me something bright and cheery before we get going. Are you kidding me? Yeah.
Hello and welcome to the 538 Politics podcast. I'm Galen Truk, and there are 13 days until Election Day.
Today, we're focusing on the state of voting in the 20 20 election. Voting laws and procedures around the country have been changed to accommodate male voting and safe in-person voting because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, more than ever before, Americans are voting early and by mail. As of this taping, 40 million Americans have voted, according to the Elections Project at the University of Florida. For context, about one hundred thirty seven million votes were cast in total in 2016.
At the same time, the rules of the election are still being litigated. Issues like signature requirements, ballot return deadlines and the use of ballot drop boxes, according to the Stanford MIT Healthy Election Tracker.
There are more than 350 cases playing out in state and federal courts, and both Republicans and Democrats are preparing for more litigation on and after Election Day. There's also the question of how long it will take to count the unprecedented number of mail ballots and therefore when we might actually know the results of the election. So here with me to break down what we're watching in terms of how election logistics are playing out, our elections analyst Nathaniel Rakic. Hey, Nathaniel Higuain.
Also here with us is senior writer and legal reporter Amelia Thompson. Davo. Hey, Amelia. Hey, Galen. And before we begin, I should mention that on 538 dotcom, we have a live blog running through Election Day. It's been running for about a week now and it's covering election administration issues.
This might be our our longest running live blog so far. And I'm glad we're doing it because this is such a key area of coverage for this election before we dig into the nuts and bolts and numbers and different cases that are ongoing. I'm curious from a reporting perspective, how have you all reoriented yourselves in terms of covering the nuts and bolts of actual election administration?
This isn't usually such a bread and butter issue for the final two weeks of campaign coverage.
Yeah, I mean, thankfully, it's been on our radar for a while, basically since the pandemic started in March and primaries started having these issues really starting with Wisconsin in April. So there's been time to get up to speed. Myself, Julia Wolfe and Mike Sweedler put together a how to vote dashboard for people. If people haven't seen that on our website, they should check it out. But basically, that required us to research every dimension of election law in all 50 states plus D.C. that you mentioned.
Gaylan, right down to whether the witness signature is required. And lots of these showed the exact dates of early voting and things like that. And we've been tracking every single change as well by following local news, following reporters who have been covering election administration issues for a long time. So thankfully, we've been able to ramp up to it, but it's definitely been a change. I think if this were a normal election, I would be spending most of my time talking about the horserace.
And instead I would say that most of my effort has been devoted to this. Instead, of course, it helps that it's not a very competitive election right now.
But my focus has really been not so much on the kind of nuts and bolts of how all of the elections are unfolding across the country, but where people are fighting in court over it and election litigation happens every year, people are always fighting over the rules.
But there have been so many rule changes this year and the stakes are so high because so many people seem like they want to vote in this election or pay attention to this election or trying to figure out how to vote safely and in a way that they're comfortable with. And so we're seeing a ton of these real changes end up in court. And with two weeks before the election, the fact that all the election rules are not completely set and that we're seeing these cases continue to be litigated.
We just had a Supreme Court order about a deadline in Pennsylvania. We could see the Supreme Court weigh in again in the next two weeks. It's just a pretty crazy landscape. And so for me, it's involved keeping an eye on a bunch of key cases that are moving through the state and federal courts. And also just checking in a lot with election law experts. Those are the people who really have their heads in this all the time and saying to them, what are you watching?
What surprised you this week? What do you think isn't getting enough coverage? I've been writing up some of that for the live blog.
Yeah. And we're going to get into some of the specifics of the ongoing litigation. But let's start with the basics. So I mentioned already that 40 million people have voted so far. Nathaniel, how many people do we expect to vote in total in this election and how many people do we expect to vote before November 3rd?
You mentioned, I think, one hundred. Thirty seven million or so people voted in twenty sixteen, I think pretty much everybody expects us to blow past that. No, I think a conservative estimate would be one hundred and forty million. I've seen some people estimate as high as one sixty. I think one fifty or a little bit less may be the sweet spot, but of course we're just guessing on that now.
I think that we have answered this question before on this podcast, but we keep getting it. So we're going to roll the tape again and we'll answer it as many times as we need to answer it. The early vote has so far favor Democrats pretty overwhelmingly. To what extent does that say anything about what the result of the election will be?
It doesn't say anything because as we've known from many polls, Democrats are much more likely to take advantage of vote by mail options in particular than Republicans are. Therefore, the party registration of early and mail votes are going to be skewed toward Democrats. And we should mention that even voter registration the party is registered with doesn't necessarily mean you're voting for that party either. So there are a lot of possible confounders between the data we're seeing and being able to say it's X percent Biden, X percent Trump.
All right. So Americans have now been voting for weeks in some states. Has it been going smoothly and where it hasn't been going smoothly, what have the issues been?
I think to a certain extent, it depends on your frame of reference, considering that we're voting in a global pandemic with lots of rule changes. Things are very different for voters than they normally are. Things could be a whole lot worse. And in fact, they were a whole lot worse during the primaries. Definitely. Some experts I've talked to have said that one lucky thing about this pandemic, if there's anything lucky about it, is that it didn't hit in August.
We had the primaries to sort of figure out what the hiccups were going to be. And at that point, the primaries were sort of a foregone conclusion.
So that being said, there have been issues. I actually just went to vote this morning in Indiana and I stood in line for 90 minutes. And that is apparently just what has been happening with early voting in Indiana. It's one of the few states that does not allow a covid exemption for an absentee ballot. So if you want to vote early, you have to go in-person. And at least where I lived, I mean, standing in line for a considerable chunk of your morning and we've seen lines in lots of other places and machines breaking down.
You know, I think a lot of the things that we would normally see on Election Day, except more people are voting early. And so the problems are just kind of coming to the fore instead of the day of the election, two weeks before the election, three weeks before the election.
Yeah, and on the mail voting front, you've also seen a few jurisdictions mailing the wrong ballot or maybe a ballot with the wrong return address, as was the case in parts of New York City. So that's been a hiccup that we've seen in a few jurisdictions. That said, election officials, obviously it's still pretty early. Elections officials have had time to mail replacement ballots in those cases. One other point I also want to make is that really all these reports are anecdotal.
So you can hear about one county that sent the wrong ballot to fifty thousand voters and you hear about another county that has lines everywhere. But you also don't hear about the thousands of other counties that aren't having these problems. So it's hard to know to what extent these are truly pervasive problems and to what extent they are one offs. That said, of course, people being sent the wrong ballots, people having to wait hours in line to vote even in one place in the United States is not acceptable.
So we have two competing ways of framing some of the issues we've seen so far. On one hand, we've heard from Democrats and voting rights groups that these long lines that we're seeing or mail ballots that are being rejected may play into a theme of voter suppression. The same time we've heard from Republicans that these issues where, for example, in New York City, 100000 voters were sent misprinted ballots. So on one hand, we see people pointing to some of these anecdotal examples and saying that's voter suppression.
On the other hand, we see others pointing to other anecdotal examples saying this is ripe for fraud. To what extent are either of those arguments really the case in what we're seeing so far?
Either argument is pretty simplistic. I'll start by saying that election fraud is very rare, as we've said many times on this podcast and on the site. So I don't think that any concerns about that are super valid. But on the other hand, a lot of the times that liberals cry voter suppression, it's not really voter suppression. I mean, maybe it is in the abstract term, but nobody is actively trying to maliciously suppress votes. It just has to do with election officials being understaffed, under-resourced people just being human and making mistakes or perhaps less generously, people being incompetent.
And making mistakes, so it's hard to paint anything with the broad brush, given that we are a country of 50 states and even more discreet local election officials.
One of the important things to remember, too, is that even though issues like rejected ballots are getting a lot of attention this year and could be quite important. Also, these issues, even if it's the long lines or other barriers, it's not happening to all voters. And people are still turning out and they're still standing in those lines and the rates of rejected ballots in absolute numbers, it might be higher this year just because so many more people are sending in mail and votes.
But this is really a group of people at the margins who would have that experience.
So while it's certainly hard to say, as Nathaniel said, that it's acceptable that people will have to take an entire morning off of work to go vote, or I've talked to a lot of voters who've said, like, they've gotten their mail in ballot in the mail for the first time and they're reading through it and they're terrified that they're going to fill it out wrong. And it's super complicated and they're not well designed. And, you know, I think there are all of these places where aspects of our electoral system could be designed better and arguably should be designed better and should take up less of people's time.
It's not that those problems, like Nathaniel was saying, were malicious or even that they necessarily, in a macro sense, really favor one party or candidate over the other.
What are we seeing so far in terms of rates of ballots being rejected? Because either they don't have the proper signatures or they haven't been filled out correctly? I know the naked ballots in Pennsylvania have made their rounds on the Internet because you have to put your ballot in one envelope before you put it in the envelope that says your name and identifying information on it. So are ballots being rejected at any higher of a rate than we would normally see in terms of votes cast by mail?
So this is, I think, a question the days after Election Day. I think it's too early to tell right now. We don't have a lot of data on that yet. Our colleague Kelly Rogers did write an article about North Carolina's very, very early rejection rate and how black voters ballots were being rejected at a higher rate of white voters ballots, which unfortunately is not unusual. People should check that out if they're interested. But overall, I think we're still left to speculate about whether the rejection rates will be significantly higher.
As Amelia said, I think it's a really important point that just because the volume of male votes is increasing, that means that even if it's just one percent of those ballots that get rejected, that means a higher volume of ballots will be rejected as well. But I also think that the rate could be lower than one percent, which is what it usually is because of things like better voter education, things like states taking steps to realize that they need to be actively driving those rejection rates down, states extending their deadlines to receive ballots so that the number one cause of ballot rejections, which is ballots arriving late, becomes less of an issue.
On the other hand, it's a simple fact that first time male voters are more likely to make a mistake, such as missing a signature that will disqualify their ballot. And so states are working against that fact. And I think that without some of those measures, if you did nothing, the rate of rejection would increase from one percent. I don't know to how high. Probably not a eye popping number, but maybe the two, three, four, five percent.
And I think we expect those rejected ballots to be the subject of litigation after Election Day. If the election is indeed close, we'll see kind of whether those rejected ballots would make up any potential winning margin.
Yeah, I definitely expect that to be a major focus of litigation. But I do want to emphasize that it would have to be an extremely, extremely close race for those rejected ballots to make a difference. So let's say, just for argument's sake, that one percent of ballots are rejected like the normal amount. So, first of all, you would have to have a margin that is within one percent. And then you have to take into account that even though mail ballots do skew Democratic, there are still plenty of Republican mail ballots within there.
So the actual margin say it's maybe 70, 30 in favor of Democrats. So then you have to say that the real margin would have to be less than one percent to maybe half a percentage point in order for those 70, 30 Biden mail ballots which are being rejected to actually make a difference.
I want to drill down on some of the specific things that are being litigated before we dive into those details. Nathaniel, we talked months ago about the impact of the pandemic was having on voter registration drives. At this point, most opportunities for Americans to register to vote. The deadline has passed. What can we say, looking back on the months since I talked to you about the overall impact that the pandemic had on. Voter registration? Well, unfortunately, we haven't updated that analysis, but I can say, of course, that it's been harder for people to register to vote because of voter registration drives, et cetera, not being able to happen in person.
And that has driven the wrong number of registrations down. In addition, we've seen reports that Republicans are registering a lot more people than Democrats, in part because they're less afraid to do these in-person activities. However, Geoffrey Skelley has a good article on the site right now about why people shouldn't be reading too much into those numbers. Basically, the D.R version is that Democrats may have registered a lot of their voters early on because they had a very competitive presidential primary and Republicans were playing catch up later in the year.
In addition, people who are registered with the party don't necessarily vote with that party. A lot of those new Republican registrations could also be longtime Democrats in places like West Virginia or other ancestrally Democratic areas who are just now getting around to changing their registration to Republican. But really, they've been voting for Republicans for decades.
Maybe the one thing I'd add to that is actually an election law expert that I was talking to last week brought up the voter registrations as sort of a question mark for him, because if more people are going in to try to vote, think they're registered, are actually not registered at the address that they live at, maybe they moved, maybe they haven't gone to the DMV because of the pandemic. That's the place where people register, where they update their registration.
I think most people would avoid the DMV like the plague in normal years and definitely in a pandemic, you know, and that can lead to more ballots that might be subject to fighting in a close election situation, because if someone shows up and they say, I think I'm registered to vote and the folks at the polling place say, hey, you're not on the list, you can fill out a provisional ballot in most cases. And then if things get close, the provisional ballots are one of the things that will be fought over.
So I think it's a bit of a question mark going into this.
And again, it's something that will will only really be an issue if the margin is very close. But if the margin is very close in an important state, we could be hearing more about provisional ballots because people are confused about whether they're registered or not.
All right. Let's talk about the law and litigation when it comes to all of these voting rolls.
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Looking at the big picture first, how significant we have election laws around the country been changed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tons of states have liberalized their laws to make it easier to vote by our count. Thirty three states have done something to push the ball forward to. Either they've gone from requiring an excuse to vote absentee to lifting that requirement, allowing everyone to vote absentee, or they've gone from being a no excuse absentee state. But you have. To request your ballot to being a all male state like state like Nevada has done so pretty much every state at this point, except for five states that are have remained excuse states.
Let's see if I can name them all Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Tennessee and Mississippi.
Look at you, election nerd for the win.
Now, do state capitals. I could do better, but the changes have really been sweeping. And they've also extended down to some of the wonkier things. So like a number of states have waived the requirement that people have to get their ballot signed by a witness. Some states have, for example, started paying for postage on city ballots. Some states have allowed people to track their absentee ballots or strengthen those systems. Lots of changes have been going on beneath the hood for sure.
So, Emilio, what are the main questions that the courts are weighing in on when it comes to these changes and why are they so contentious?
So one of the big things is the deadlines for mail in ballots. There's been like a lot of posturing on both sides about this. It's not about whether you can mail in a ballot after Election Day and still have it counted. It's about concerns around the Postal Service being slower.
And if people mail and their ballot by Election Day, it's postmarked by Election Day. Basically how long the state is giving that ballot to get into the hands of election officials. And some states have loosened those requirements so that the ballot can take longer to get to them. So that has been a big subject of litigation. Another one has been dropped boxes, which has been one of these workarounds. You know, people are really worried about the postal service.
It's something that I've heard over and over again in talking to people about their concerns about voting and drop boxes are sort of the easy way. You know, you drop off your ballot, you don't have to take it in. And if you don't want to put it in the mail and then you sort of wait for it to make its way through the Postal Service and you don't have to go and drop it off at an elections office, you can just put it in the drop box.
And that should be pretty easy. That has also been a subject of litigation and in particular fighting in states like Texas, most prominently between the state government and local governments, about basically how much leeway the local governments have to decide where they get to put drop boxes and how many drop boxes they have.
And then there's also been litigation over issues like witness signature requirements. So the issue of during a pandemic, it might be hard to get a witness to say, yes, I saw this person sign their ballot, which is a requirement that some states have. And so some states have loosened that or it's been loosened in other ways. And that's also been the subject of fighting.
There are literally hundreds of cases that are either pending in the courts now or have been settled over the past few weeks. So there's a lot of movement, but those are the big ones.
One thing that did come up like a week or two ago that is probably done for now or as a couple of states, voter registration portals crashed on the day of the deadline. And as a result, courts ordered the registration deadlines to be extended so that people who wait until the last minute but then didn't have a chance to register online, were able to register online. But those were fairly uncontroversial court decisions, or at least they were quickly decided. Some of these cases, like with the drop boxes or more accurately dropped sites in Texas, as well as some of these absentee ballot deadline cases such as in Wisconsin and North Carolina, have really been ping ponging between, oh, the deadline has been extended.
Oh, the deadline hasn't been extended. Multiple court rulings overruling each other within the span of a few days. And it's been quite confusing to follow even for those of us who do this for a living. So I can't imagine how difficult it must be for voters.
Yeah, literally moving through state and federal court at the same time in some cases. And so there are questions of state law in questions of federal law, and it's very confusing. And the fact that it's still in flux with 13 days before the election is just pretty wild.
Amelia, is it possible to say in general if courts are ruling on the side of Republicans or Democrats in these cases?
So I haven't done a comprehensive analysis of where courts have come out on this.
And one of the complicating factors is that there are challenges moving in both state and federal court, sometimes simultaneously, that the Texas case, for example, one of the Texas cases, is moving both in state and federal court, kind of at the same time.
But a general pattern, especially when it comes to the federal courts, has been district court judges, which is the trial court level. So the lowest level judges basically saying, OK, voting should be easier. These are reasonable exemptions to make in the time of a pandemic.
Go ahead. The deadline extension is OK or the deadline extension might even be required and then those decisions getting overturned by federal appellate courts.
There was an exception to that actually. Last night, the 4th Circuit ruled that a North Carolina deadline extension from three days to nine days, that was established by the state elections board and was being challenged by some GOP officials in the state legislature. They said they weren't going to issue a stay on, that they weren't going to halt it. But that has been more the exception than the rule. Mostly, we've seen appeals courts saying, no, we really shouldn't be making these changes with so little time before the election.
Yeah. Amelia knows more about legal stuff than I do, but my general read has been that especially higher courts have generally been siding with the conservative, more restrictive side of things. But I think with an important caveat that they also defer to states. So, for example, the side that the state government itself is on matters. So they're more likely to keep a more liberal law in place if the state supports it. Traditionally, the federal courts have been reticent to overturn state Supreme Court rulings.
And you kind of saw that in play when the Supreme Court declined to overturn the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision to allow a later absentee ballot deadline. But that case was actually just for four at the Supreme Court, suggesting that a full court with Amy CONI Barrett would have actually overturned the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which is kind of a big deal, as I understand it.
Yeah, I mean, it would have been a really big deal if that had happened. And it's hard to predict what's going to happen in the next couple of weeks. But it looks like Amy Barrett is going to be on the Supreme Court very soon. And the way that case came out, it's possible it could come back to the Supreme Court that we might not actually have heard the end of this dispute about the Pennsylvania deadline. And Republicans could file a petition for a rehearing, bring it back to the court.
The Supreme Court has been doing a thing that I think has been hard for federal judges in general, which is they have been ruling on some of these cases or issuing orders on some of these cases when they get them, but not explaining their reasoning. So what the Supreme Court can do, you know, I think people are used to the normal process where the Supreme Court hears oral arguments and then they confer for a long time. And then we get these long opinions where they explain exactly why they ruled the way they did.
But in these emergency situations, where they're just getting a request sometimes to halt a particular rule change that has gone into place, they'll just sort of give it a yes or no. And sometimes we don't even know which justices were on which side. I mean, in the Pennsylvania case, we knew because for the four conservative justices who are not, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that they would have granted the stay.
But the Supreme Court's reasoning for what you do in this situation and especially in this pandemic situation, has been a little bit of a black box.
And so even though I think the trend in the appeals courts, the federal appeals courts, has been to go with the more kind of conservative restrictive position, you've seen some really biting dissents from judges who have said, no, this is not the way to go.
We are making it much harder for people at a time when we should be making it easier. And so, you know, it's not like these are unanimous decisions that are coming down from appeals court judges. It's clearly been the subject of some fighting internally on the appeals courts at the risk of playing dumb.
Why is this so contentious? You know, like whether you have a three day or a nine day period for ballots to make it to the board of elections or whether or not you have a whole bunch of drop boxes or just one, it seems like there are a lot of ways to vote in this election and that these kinds of issues around the margins are unlikely to make a difference. But are people just expecting that it could be so close or preparing for a scenario in which it could be so close that it doesn't even matter?
Any one vote cast or not cast is the goal here.
I think in the back of everyone's head is what happened in Florida in 2000, where it literally came down to a very, very, very small number of votes in one state.
And I think you're right, Galen, that the difference between three days and nine days, the ballots that come in, it might not be a huge number of ballots. On the other hand, it does seem like the Postal Service has been just more unreliable during the pandemic. So I think that is a concern that a lot of voters have and that some elections officials also seem to have like they're saying like get your ballot in early.
Don't wait until the last day to send your ballot and just send it in today and people are preparing now in case the election is very close.
And that's actually sort of an interesting thing about what's happening with this litigation, is that some of these important questions are getting decided before the election.
And so it does kind of raise an interesting question of, OK, what happens after the election?
And Wisconsin's really close. And it seems like the absentee ballots that came in late could be decisive in some way and the courts have already ruled on it. Well, where does that leave us? It seems hard for people to come back and say, oh, no, wait, now this could decide the election. Please do this all over again. Courts. So that's part of it, is that people sense that these could be really important questions and they're trying to get it resolved now.
I agree with everything Amelia said, but I would also put in a plug for I think a lot of people just genuinely believe that these things like ideologically and it's not necessarily because of the horse race, like the group that originally instigated the change in North Carolina ameliorative was like a retired persons advocacy group. So probably not necessarily someone who is super invested in Biden or Trump winning, but rather just a group that wants to see the people it represents. Votes count totally.
I mean, just because a lot of things are partisan does not mean everything is partisan. And there are a lot of people who are just invested in making sure that folks who need to vote by mail this year for all kinds of reasons can do it and that they're being treated fairly. And that's been one of the big disputes that has been coming before the courts is sort of like who gets to decide what fair is? Because one of the big questions that came before the Supreme Court in the Pennsylvania case and is also at issue in the North Carolina case is does the legislature get to make those decisions?
Do the courts get to make those decisions? Do election boards get to make those decisions? As you were mentioning at the beginning of the podcast, Gailen, the nuts and bolts of how elections get run is not something that usually gets a lot of love or attention, especially in the lead up to an election when people are really focused on the horse race. But now suddenly everyone is incredibly invested in know who gets to make these choices and under what circumstances.
So I think we can expect that there is going to be ongoing litigation up until and past Election Day, and I'm sure we will be covering it again. Another big question here before we wrap up is the tallying process. With a lot of states dealing with an unprecedented number of mail ballots, they might not be able to count the votes as quickly. And so that's raised questions about when we'll actually know the results of the election. So given what we know about the tallying processes, the different deadlines in different states, how are you all thinking about when we'll get results, where and when we might know who won?
So this is a big question for those of us who follow elections, obviously, and it's not an easy one to answer.
And for the American public, the Americans want to know who won the election.
They can be patient. You know, we're the ones who are going to be up at 1:00 a.m. being like, when can we go to bed but shed a tear for the elections?
Yes, I'm kidding. Absolutely. Don't shed a tear for us.
But look, I think that especially after the pandemic hit and some of these primaries went one hundred percent vote by mail and we saw sometimes weeks of delays and getting the results, I think people assumed the worst about when we would learn the results of the 2020 election. I don't think it's going to be that kind of nightmare scenario. I think there's a good chance that we learn the identity of the winner in the first couple of days after the election, if not on election night itself.
But I do think that people need to be prepared for it not to be as quick or decisive as it has been in the past. So it really depends state by state. These states have different rules, for example, whether they can accept mail ballots after Election Day like we were talking about. And also states have different rules for when they can start processing or counting the mail ballots they receive. And also some states will be a hundred percent vote by mail.
Others might be 10 or 20 percent. And it really won't be a significant part. And they'll just be able to count the Election Day votes as they normally do. So I think what we are tentatively looking for is we know that a couple of states are probably going to report results relatively on time. The most important of these states is probably Florida. It's looking like Arizona might also be fairly quick to report. That's a state that's voted by mail for a long time and is fairly used to it and has gotten its house in order about counting those ballots.
Texas is another state because they haven't made it really easier to. Vote by mail, where we might get the results on something approximating a normal schedule, on the other hand, states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in particular, those states don't allow processing of absentee ballots very early. And so we're expecting at least a few days for final results there. Then there are a few wild cards that are kind of in between. So I'm thinking specifically of North Carolina and Ohio, which are states that are fast at processing and counting ballots, but states that accept ballots after Election Day.
So however many ballots we get by Election Day will be counted quickly in those states, but then we're going to have to wait days and potentially weeks to get the final final results. So if North Carolina is within a percentage point on election night, we might not know the winner there for several days. So there's a decent chance that we will have a good idea of who won the presidency on election night. For example, if Joe Biden wins Florida, if he wins Arizona, certainly if he wins Texas, there's a very good chance that he's won the presidency because it's just very hard for President Trump to win re-election without those states.
That said, we may not be able to officially make a network projection because there will be other states like Michigan, like Pennsylvania, like Wisconsin that are still out. So we might be in this awkward in-between period where we basically know who won, but we can't say so officially, which, of course, could lead to some confusion. But I think that's probably what people should expect on election night.
That was a really good overview. Thank you. You're welcome. I hope that makes sense for all of our listeners.
I've said this on Twitter. I'll say this here. My birthday is on November 5th. And if we're still doing daily podcasts on November 5th, Claire and I are going to be doing shots on air on the podcast. I don't know whether that means we should hope for a result by November 5th or not. I'm certainly hoping for a while.
Yeah, I feel like you're setting an incentive for people to send in their ballots at the last possible second ballot.
All right. To wrap this up here, as we've been doing some of these daily podcasts, I've been asking people to be a little bit reflective about how we do campaign coverage. And as we mentioned at the top, getting the specific about election logistics and administration is not par for the course in the final weeks of campaign coverage. Do you think that should change? I mean, normally we might be going to like big rallies. You know, some rock star would be playing at a concert in Philadelphia and we'd be talking to like Susie and Joe and and whoever they plan on voting for what?
Not necessarily elsewhere 538.
We don't do a ton of that. But instead, we have a lot of people in the mainstream press talking about the nuts and bolts of how people are voting.
Should we keep it that way?
I think it's important. I hope we talk about it more.
One thing that I've been wrestling with in covering these court cases in particular is how to cover these issues honestly and accurately without blowing their import out of proportion, because on the one hand, as we know from 2000, courts can be incredibly decisive in elections, on the other hand.
That's only happened once in modern history was a very unusual circumstance.
And it would take a convergence of several different factors for us to get to a point where, say, the Supreme Court is issuing a ruling that has a significant impact on the outcome of the election. So for me, it's been a balance of how do we help people understand what's happening in the courts, how that affects them.
The confusion has certainly been something that I've heard from people that I've been talking to just about their experience of voting, sort of having this sense that the rules are changing and they don't know what they're supposed to be doing. And maybe the rules will change tomorrow after they figure it out and they don't like that.
And I think that's really, really important to talk about it, to make sure that people understand sort of to the extent that these rules are changing, this is the direction that they're going in and this is what they want to get their ballot on time they should do. And that's one reason that I think the guide that Nathaniel and Julia and Maya put together, that again, everyone should go check out is so valuable because it just kind of lays out all of the different rules in a really accessible way.
On the other hand, as I think we've said a couple of times on this podcast, the chances that this comes down to a court ruling having a really decisive impact are pretty slim.
That doesn't mean it can't happen. So I could be back here in two weeks talking about how this case is going before the Supreme Court is going to be really decisive. And I don't want to be here eating my hat at that moment, but I do think it's a challenge of this year.
What Amelia is saying is that you should all email her directly if this election ends up in court at Amelia Dunham.
I have a pretty unsellable last name, Galen. So what you were about to do is a challenge for you and for listeners. Luckily, I mean, email me with your questions. It's fine. Please don't email me to tell me I was wrong.
Anyway, it's a challenge of this year. Weird stuff is happening all the time that we wouldn't have predicted and we would have said there's a very low chance of it happening. But that also doesn't mean that the really unusual thing that everyone is expecting and is afraid of is also necessarily going to happen. And I think that has been a particularly challenging balance when we're talking about the courts and the impact that they could have.
And I should say our forecast actually has an output of how likely it is that the election hinges on a recount. And we currently put that a four percent chance so we can put a number on it. It's four percent. But anyway, I think that is about it all. Again, plug the live blog that everyone at 538 is contributing to at 538 dotcom. We're tracking all of the different elections, logistics changes, court cases, etc. through election day.
It's been all just say for me a super helpful guide to understanding what is happening, because there's so many things happening all at once. In fact, we had an election administration channel in Slack and I was like, you guys, we should publish this for the audience because I go to this every day trying to figure out what the hell is going on.
Yes, the live blog was actually a Galen's brainchild. I believe them every day for the extra work brainchild of gallantry. Sorry, but thank you, but sorry.
But thank you. All right. Let's leave it there. Thank you. Nathaniel and Amelia. Thank scallywags. Gailen my name is Galen Droog. Tony Chow is in the virtual control room. Claire Bennet. Gary Curtis is on audio editing. You can get in touch by emailing us at podcasts at five thirty eight dotcom. You can also, of course, tweet us with any questions or comments. If you're a fan of the show, leave us a rating or review in the Apple podcast store or tell someone about us.
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Thanks for listening and we'll see you soon.