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Hello from the Lincoln Project and welcome back. I'm Ron Suskind. This is our weekly roundup where we bring in a rotating panel of experts to discuss the truth. You need to know behind the most important stories of the week and how they shape the political landscape of this election. We have an incredible panel today with two of my fellow co-founders of the Lincoln Project, independent political strategist and our captain on this voyage, regaling morning read by Ron and communication strategist and former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party, Jennifer Horn.
It's great to have you back again, Jennifer.
Good morning, gentlemen. Good to be here.
On today's episode, we are going to do something a little bit different. We're going to talk broadly about all things voting. And as everyone knows, voting is the bedrock of our political system and has recently come under fire from none other than the president himself. So we're focusing on this today because there are a lot of potential issues around election security, accessibility, timelines that need to be addressed now so that these issues can be mitigated before the November election and fixed going forward.
And a lot of you have been reaching out, whether it's on our town halls or in the email inbox about questions on this topic. And so we wanted to devote a whole episode to it, especially because as we're recording right now on this Thursday morning and just before we get started, the president tweeted and I quote, With universal mail and voting, not absentee voting, which is good, 20 20 will be the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history.
It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. DeLay the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote with a characteristically questionmark. I don't really know where to begin. But Jennifer, what's your initial reaction to this tweet and then read when Jennifer is finished, maybe you can help set the table for a broader discussion that we're about to have? Well, this is outrageous. And for years and years, Donald Trump has made one outrageous statement after the other.
And each one is worse and more damaging and more dangerous to the foundation of our republic. And Republicans across the spectrum have become like these silent whipping posts of the president's abuse. And they say nothing. I when I saw that tweet this morning, the first my first thought was something you have to do, something there has to like somebody has to stop this, protect someone, has to protect the ballot box, protect the integrity of the election. And you get this immediate outrage.
And my that my second thought right after that is right. Who's going to do it? The Republicans in the Senate who have ignored the president's dangerous incompetence that has led to nearly one hundred and fifty thousand American lives lost to the coronavirus. The senators who after seeing clear and obvious evidence that he tried to bribe a foreign leader to influence his election, decided to acquit him in the impeachment trial. The Republican senators who have completely ignored the fact that this president has been aware for over a year that Russia has been paying bounties for American sons and daughters on the battlefield.
We think they're going to step up. They're going to say something about this now. Our elections are at risk, and if our elections are at risk, then our republic is at risk. And if every single American and every single elected American does not recognize the gravity of what that tweet means and express their outrage and rise up together to take an action, then every single one of them deserves to be removed from office.
Reid does. First of all, does the president have the authority to do this? And does it matter?
He doesn't have the authority to do it. Congress would be the one who would set or reset federal elections. And while Mitch McConnell and his cronies might think about it, certainly I don't believe that Speaker Nancy Pelosi or anybody in the Democratic House is going to have anything to do with it. It does matter, though, I think, politically, because this is the first time in American history that a president confronted with the calamity that he is instrumental in having exacerbated, sees the worst economic news in American history.
And his response is not to figure out how to mitigate the coronavirus and the death and the sickness and the unemployment that comes with it, but to say that we should change the election in order to benefit him. And so for so many of us who have been watching this Enron, I know that you were ringing alarm bells much to your own detriment back in late 15 and early. Twenty sixteen. This is the next logical step. So we've seen, you know, federal troops deployed, maybe their troops, maybe they're cops, I'm not sure.
But they wear military fatigues and they act like soldiers and they attack Americans in the street, whether or not it's Pennsylvania Avenue or Portland, Oregon. And, you know, what is this stuff is a test runs to see what they can get away with. Is this the next step in saying he's not going to abide by the results of the election? And it's hard to sit here on a Thursday morning and hear yourself say those things and not sound like you're a little bit crazy.
Right, because this is something that happens in banana republics, in countries, you know, that most Americans, including me, couldn't find on a map. And, you know, you hear about as a snippet on the evening news, but they're not happening in those places. They're happening here and they're happening now. And I don't think that there has ever been a time since maybe the civil war when it was so important that Americans take agency for their own nation and really stand up and say, we're not going to put up with this.
It's not Donald Trump's country. It's not his government. It's our country. It's our government. It's our political system. And we got ninety five days, ninety four days to make sure that he knows it. And there's a lot of, you know, technical things that need to go into it. But, you know, everybody who can vote has got to vote. Whether or not they go in person, whether or not they go early, whether or not they go by mail.
We have to get to November 3rd and we have to thrash this guy so badly, electorally that he and his aiders and abettors just get out of D.C. as quick as they can, leave us all in peace, leave us all to heal. Let Joe Biden take the oath of office and set this country on a course back to health, wellness, economic prosperity and redemption.
OK, we've got a lot to talk about. And before we do, I want to take a really quick detour to help set the table a little bit more, because you've used the word the term Banana Republic before Steve has used it. We use it a lot. But I would like one of you to just explain, first of all, what is a banana republic and what does it mean that the things, the trends that we're seeing, the attacks on a democracy right now, how do they compare to these countries that we're talking about that nobody could find on a map?
And and why are we so alarmed about this? I say that with the context of read. You and I have discussed the tragedy of the death of civics education in this country, which which I think has led to a bit of complacency and confusion about why so many people who do understand why this is so alarming are so scared of what's happening. So I just I want to I want to explain to folks why this is so serious at a at a high level.
Can you do that?
Well, sure. I mean, a banana republic is one in which it doesn't matter who's on the ballot. The guy who wants to win is going to get ninety nine percent of the votes. He's going to have the most outrageous electoral turnover in history. You know, Saddam Hussein when he ran Iraq used to get ninety nine percent. I assume Vladimir Putin, whenever he decides to be elected again, will I get ninety nine percent of the vote in Russia?
They have the mechanics of democracy, but not the reality of it. And I think that's what we have to be concerned about. Here, as we see Trump doing these things, is that he now knows that if this as of this moment, he is going to lose and he is going to lose badly, I don't know that he can ever take responsibility for the fact that the actions that have brought him to this point are part and parcel of his pending electoral demise.
But, you know, it's it it is one of those things for us. We used to be the exemplar. We used to be the beacon of democracy in this world. We used to be, you know, as Reagan said, the city on the Hill.
And now, you know, people look from all over the world and they look at us and we're no city on a hill where, you know, we're we're darkened. We're we're where the shutters are closed. You know, the closed for business sign is up. And, you know, that's not who I think a lot of us want this country to be, nor do I think it should be. And I think lastly is on the complacency piece.
It's you know, it doesn't take very much if you're born in America. The country asks very little of you to be an American and you get a hell of a lot of benefit for it with very little input. And, you know, there's only so long you can have a birthright like that and not take it seriously before it's going to start to slip away. And so I hope what we're seeing today is that there will be tens of millions of Americans who maybe otherwise thought maybe it doesn't matter.
You know, I'm not going to participate. Well, it does matter. And you damn well better participate, because on November 3rd, we're going to vote. We're all going to vote, and Donald Trump is going to lose. And when he loses, he's going to go. And that should be our mantra. For the next ninety four days. We will vote. You will go. Jennifer, I want to give you an opportunity. Yeah, well, I would I would go beyond that and or maybe circle circle back from that.
When you look at Donald Trump's tweet this morning with his question mark, maybe should we delay the election when I this is part of Donald Trump's strategy, this not just his strategy to win re-election in 2020. This is how this guy works and has his entire life. He is sending out reminders to his voters to mail in their vote on the same day and sending out robocalls. Laura Trump did. One is good going out in the mail on the same day yesterday or the day before when he is tweeting out how bad it is, how how unsafe mail in voting is.
And then this morning, he sends out this outrageous, dangerous tweet about delaying an election that his purpose for, which is to protect himself from losing the election. This is his strategy. He thinks you're stupid. And people have to understand that at the most basic level, if you are a Republican or a right leaning independent who has been unsure about what to do, stay home, vote for the president anyway. Like you just he is doing this for your you are his audience, for your consumption.
He thinks you're stupid. He thinks that you cannot see him saying to exactly opposite things. At the same time, he thinks that he can convince you that somehow the American voting system that has has stood up for over 200 years, that has brought us to Redpoint to truly, you know, that that shining city on the hill, our elections and the way that we conduct elections are a foundational you are a cornerstone to that shining city on the hill.
And Donald Trump thinks that he can convince you that somehow, suddenly in this moment, it's all blown up, it's all complete, that the truth is not the truth, that that facts are not facts, and that somehow, you know, you need to run into the streets and demand that you not vote in November. That is and the reason that is so wrong and so damaging is that American elections are what set us apart from not just from banana republics, from all other nations on earth.
We choose our representatives at the ballot box. We choose our presidents. We hold them accountable by voting. Anybody who is an elected official in our country who tries to tell you that you need to not vote in any manner for any reason is dangerous to the future of our country and needs to be defeated. If this does not convince you that we need to defeat Donald Trump and Trump ism in a landslide, then I don't know what will.
Let's start with a really quick summary of the different ways that people can vote in this election in different states, what are the what are the different methods and how do they work? And and maybe one of you can speak to whether there is any difference at all between absentee voting and mail in voting, which the president seems to think are distinct and right.
Because the president because the president's an idiot or because the president thinks you're an idiot, one or the other there are there. Before coronavirus restrictions came into place, there were five states in our country that for years have been doing all of their elections through mail and voting 100 percent mail and voting no problems, no big, you know, stories about the integrity of the ballot or anything else. We have 28 states that now have what they call no excuses, absentee ballot voting, which means that you can request an absentee ballot from your local town hall.
You don't have to be you don't have to say that you're traveling out of town, that you're sick, that you're disabled. They're going to send it to you and you can mail it in. It doesn't matter. And then in addition to that, we have 17 more states that want you to identify on your absentee ballot why you're not showing up in person. Most of those states have now passed legislation or regulations where you can say your fear of catching the coronavirus is an accepted reason for that.
So across all those states, you have the every voter has the ability to vote by mail or absentee ballot. They're the exact same thing. And then for those states that don't have it or for those people who don't feel like they need to, of course, they can show up on Election Day and vote. We have some states, as you all know, have early voting so you can show up for on any of a number of days, for two weeks before Election Day to vote.
Reid made this point very clearly and very eloquently just a couple of seconds ago. The most important thing is that you vote if if if you wear a mask, maintain your distance, bring your little pocket hand sanitizer with you. You there is there has never been a moment, perhaps since the civil war when voting has been more important than it is right now.
You know, if if you're looking for information, you know, whatever state you live in, the chief elections officer is probably the secretary of state. I live here in Utah, which happens to be an all male state. You know, the lieutenant governor in our state is the chief elections officer. But, you know, if you if you live in Wisconsin, you say, you know, Wisconsin elections officer and, you know, either it's the state or whatever county you live in, it should take you pretty quickly to, you know, the place.
I think, Ron, there's there's some national resources maybe we can put in the body of the show as well. We do that those. But, yeah, I think, you know, there's the early voting, there's the voting by mail, and then there's the voting in person. I would say this is that, you know, we've also seen this week because why not add insult to injury, you know, that we're now hearing anecdotal reports out of states that, you know, postmus local postmasters are being told to slow down the mail, which is why it's even more essential that if you are going to vote by mail, that you apply for your absentee ballot as soon as the window opens for you to mail that ballot, that you do.
So because if they can delay it for two weeks, you know, and you and you and you vote October 15th, you're very well might not hit the deadline. You might not get it to your polling place. But if you get your absentee ballot September 1st and you mail it September 2nd, you know, with the exception of them putting those ballots on the back of a turtle and crawling to the registrar's office, they're probably not going to be able to delay it.
So I think it's also a matter of showing how early you can. But remember, Republicans used to do this as a matter of course, and Jennifer knows this better than anybody, probably that early voting and voting by mail is the greatest way to bank your votes and increase the efficiency of your targeting. And so Trump's you know, Trump's playing a double game where he says delay the elections, vote by mail, doesn't work. And then Eric Trump is I don't know if he's Frido number one or Frido number two in the Trump family, sends out an email saying, you know, make sure to request your absentee ballot today.
So it's all part of a I don't even want to call it a strategy because I'm not sure he's he's he's not capable cognitively of strategic rising. But it is a it is an instinctual self-defense mechanism in its own way to say I need to cause as much trouble here because I know all things being equal. If I leave if I leave all this stuff quiet, if I don't throw sand in the gears and throw dust up, I'm going to get crushed.
I'm going to lose thirty eight states or something. And so I think we shouldn't forget that the plans that he has are no no further down the road than the end of his nose. But he is the lizard brain. Does have a very solid self-preservation chip in it, and and I think that's probably just an extension of what we're seeing now. And so, again, we can get you know, we can and will as the Lincoln Project and with associated groups provide any and all voter information and resources that we can to ensure people are able to vote.
If you've got friends and family who aren't comfortable going to a polling place and you live in a state, most of the target Electoral College states that we're looking at this year have no fault absentee balloting. And so just make sure that if that's how you want to participate, that you go ahead and get those things done. Most of the deadlines for requesting that ballot are very late, late September, October, some right up until the day before the election.
So, you know, as Schmidt said, I think maybe on an earlier episode, the only person who can ultimately prevent you from casting your ballot is you. Yeah, I think it is fair to say that in this election, voting is going to take a lot more work for each and every voter than it has before in any election, in any election.
But obviously, I would say not so much more work, just more consciousness, you know, just paying attention and being informed. It's not more work. You're still going to do that. You're going to check a box on a piece of paper and drop it in your mailbox or you're going to show up and stand on line like you always have.
Yeah, fair. You're right. It's planning. It's planning, understanding how voting is going to work where you live. And that takes a little bit of extra effort this time around than waiting for your turn to stand in line, to go to your polling place, as you always do. It's not going to be the same as it always has been this year. But I want to go to the the story about the postmaster's in just a minute. But before we do, I want to close out, just vote by mail and and and wrap up any other any other points or information we can provide on this score.
Because because of the coronavirus pandemic, we're seeing record numbers of people voting by mail. Kentucky, for example, just fell shy of the record number of votes in a presidential primary. But seventy five percent of the votes cast were from mail in ballots, up from two percent who usually vote absentee read. In states like New Hampshire, they have expanded absentee voting to include fear of catching the coronaviruses excuse reason to vote by mail. Jennifer, you mentioned that.
And we'll get to the mail piece of this in a minute. The actual moving of paper in the mail in a minute. But how important across the board is the expansion of absentee voting going to be in this election, as Jennifer has already experienced?
Unfortunately, this year there are millions of seniors in this country who are very likely to be uncomfortable and frankly, personally unsafe, going to a polling place and standing cheek by jowl with hundreds of other people for an hour or so and going into a voting booth where who knows if it's been sanitized or any of the other things. And so I think that it's hugely important because those those older voters. Right. I don't know if it's 50 plus fifty five plus also vote in much higher propensities than just about anybody else.
Right. Old people vote and they vote all the time. And so I think that ensuring that they are able to exercise their rights as Americans to cast a ballot I think is an essential part of this. And as we've already seen, nursing homes, assisted living facilities are being just overrun with covid. And so making sure that the folks in those places. And this is probably the the role of we can certainly do a lot on the on the awareness front.
But there are a lot of groups in states and cities and counties that need to make sure that those folks, you know, are aware of their options, aware of the ways they can and should participate so that they can do so safely, but also in such a way that their ballot gets turned in or mailed in time, you know, in California to you know, they have what's called it's pejoratively called ballot harvesting, which is other people can be assigned to take your ballot to the polling place.
I'm not sure how many states allow that. Probably not a ton would be my guess. But, you know, whatever it is we can do to folks who otherwise are going to be, you know, disadvantaged to going in person, I think we need to really focus on ensuring their ability to participate. Yeah, there's there's one other one other point that I just want to you can respond to this if you like. I just want to offer it to our to our listeners.
And I think I mentioned last week that in primary elections across the country so far this year, NPR reported that at least sixty five thousand absentee or mail in ballots have been rejected because they arrived after the. Deadline and many of those almost most of those were were due to no fault of the voter, and now according to the US Election Assistance Commission, out of the thirty three point three million sorry, this is in twenty sixteen out of the thirty three point three million ballots, mail in ballots cast in twenty sixteen seventy three thousand five hundred sixty five were rejected for being late.
That was in the general election of twenty sixteen. Now in the primary election of twenty twenty, we're almost at the same number, which does not bode well for what's going to happen in in November. And this is I think, a good Segway into the story about the postmaster's, as Reid mentioned, slowing down the mail, being told to slow down the mail. So be there's a news story in Fortune from July twenty Fourth by Nicole Goodkind that I want to talk about.
The new postmaster general, Lewis Dejoy, has ended over time work for postal workers. Data from the American Postal Workers Union has found that nearly 20 percent of all work by mail handlers, carriers and postal drivers is done in overtime, and the cut will lead to delays in mail delivery. This comes after the Postal Service warned Congress in April that it will run out of cash by the end of September without financial assistance. Now, Reid, you mentioned the the the the delay here and this new postmaster general who's been appointed by Trump.
It this feels to me like one of those situations where the president is making a problem so that he can take credit for solving it or so that he can blame somebody else. I just I don't know how to how to react to this other than it feels very nefarious.
Well, I mean, he's the guy that you mentioned is also the first, I believe, postmaster general in the history of the country who wasn't actually a long time postal employee. So it's just one more crony of Trump's that they put in there. Again, I think that we should we give Trump a lot of credit for being, you know, this evil mastermind. He's not capable of dreaming up any of this. He's he's saying OK to it because he knows it advantages him.
But I think it's almost worse because you've got him as a vehicle to allow these things to happen. And he likes shows of strength and he likes obviously being in control. And so that's what this does. I think, you know, we sometimes I think probably a lot of times take the Postal Service for granted. But, you know, it was neither rain or snow nor dark of night. Will will keep them from their appointed rounds. You know, you go back.
I think that the post office was one of the first departments set up in the new either in the Articles of Confederation or at the beginning of the country, you know, the Pony Express. Right. Which connected the west back to the east and started, you know, the first sort of transcontinental communication before the Telegraph and everything else came into play. And so, you know, the Postal Service has served as the connective tissue to Americans for many, many years now.
Obviously, with the advent of the Internet, that is, you know, pretty significantly diminished because there you can you can send an email rather than sending a letter and you can make an argument that my grandmother used to send beautifully handwritten letters, three, four or five pages on an almost weekly basis to her friends. And that's we can have another discussion about human contact and interaction. But it's so easy to communicate now instantaneously that, you know, the mail can feel a little bit old fashioned.
But that me that doesn't mean that when it comes to voting that it's any less important. And so I think that, again, the overtime piece is just one more way to curtail the ability of individual post offices or the large sorting facilities, which I'm sure dot the countryside from doing the jobs that they need to do. But also remember that this is going to fool with this is not just about voting. This is also going to fool with people's bills, their mortgages, their electric payments.
I mean, and so, you know, you start getting late bills and the electric company says, hey, I'm going to ding your credit because, you know, you didn't pay your bill on time and you're like, hey, the thing didn't show up for six weeks.
What do you I'm going to do your unemployment check, your tax returns. Yeah, right.
And look, I mean, a lot of those a lot of those may be done electronically now, but there's probably a lot who get an analog check every month or every couple of weeks, whatever it is. So, you know, fooling with the Postal Service has. Obviously, very potentially dire circumstances or consequences for voting, but it also spreads out through the country. I mean, everybody still, I would assume, goes to check their mail, right?
Whether or not whether or not you get junk mail or whatever it is. So people check their mail all the time, every day. I know it's my wife's favorite thing to do is take the dog up to the mailbox and get the mail every day. So maybe it's just because she's away from me and the kids after one hundred and forty days. But so I think that it's it's just one more way of utilizing for his own purposes the executive authority that he has at his disposal.
And I would say, frankly, I don't think that this is a circumstance where the presence creating a problem so he can turn around and fix it and show how strong it is. I do think that the president and the people around him are very cognizant of the impact this will have on the ability for every vote to be counted. And I think that in addition to maybe a lot of other things, I think that's very much what this story is about.
And if you look at, you know, we have now reached a point where this president has surrounded himself with people who have the ability to influence this election. And I am a I don't want to start to sound like a conspiracy theorist either, but who is our top law enforcement officer in the country, its attorney general, William Barr, possibly the most corrupt, most dishonest AG that we've had certainly in my adult lifetime that I have ever seen in the way that he conducts himself.
You look at the people that the president has put into these influential positions and now we see it at the post office. To Reed's point, a guy who knows nothing about mail, much less the postal system. And now he's in charge. And he the first thing he does have to be clear for folks, he's only been there for a couple of weeks. The first big thing he does is create a roadblock to getting mail and votes counted. This is I think that we all need to accept that this election is not going to be decided on November 3rd, that it's going to be a potentially long and painful process that could well end up the same as Bush, the first Bush election at the Supreme Court.
Who knows? But the good news out of all of this is that elections are certified at the state level. So for individual voters who are concerned about, you know, will their vote get counted, how soon as you know, is this if the state decides to certify the elections as of November 5th and we know that there's still ten thousand million votes in your state. You know, there's there are a lot of other steps to this process. I am very suspicious of the action taken by the new postmaster general.
I think it is almost entirely about this election.
That's a really. Alarming point that has come up a lot in our recent conversations and the point about what happens after November 3rd and how long it takes for us to actually have a decisive victory for Joe Biden, Reid, is it even worth thinking about that period of time following the election? Or should we just focus on doing everything we can right now to make sure as many people can vote and do vote on November 3rd? But it it feels almost like we would be remiss if we didn't talk about what we what we see coming down the pipe right now, right after November 3rd.
Sure. This would be the worst example of not being able to walk and chew gum in the history of the United States. Like we have to we have to prosecute the campaign on a daily basis. And all the folks listening to this and all the folks who follow us on social media and all the folks have signed up for our email and all the people who attend our our town halls are all part of this together. We're all in this together, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in lockstep.
Right. Marching forward to November 3rd. As we do that, though, Ron, you make a good point, which is what are all the things that we can and must do from our position to ensure that, as Jennifer said, that come midnight on November 3rd, if it's not a total blowout and it's just so clear that Trump has been driven from office that there is a delay. We need to ensure that every last voting rights group is ready to go.
Every last group of conscientious, constitutionally centered election lawyers are on the stick. Right. There are more of us than there are of them, and there always will be. And right now, numbers will be our friend both in the election and in its aftermath. And so, from my perspective, we must be prepared to defend our country in all the ways that are legal, legitimate, safe, otherwise. But we can't take it for granted. And I don't know how much more we can say about that.
And you'll see a lot more from us on this front in the coming days and weeks. But this is this is the kind of stuff that they need for Trump to have any chance of winning. To have any chance of winning has to be derwish, division, ugliness, disunion, confusion, misinformation and disenfranchisement, making it harder to vote, consolidation of polling places, delay of absentee ballots like it's all the mechanical things they can do because they know and I think the GOP writ large knows they can't win the they in the marketplace of ideas because they don't have any and they can't run on their record at this point.
Because if you're Donald Trump, your record is death, destruction, and in the worst economy, even more so than the depression at this point. And if you're Republican senators, you've got nothing to run on because you've been you've been chasing Donald Trump and holding on to his coattails for three and a half years. And I'll tell you, you know, I know that where we're taping this for that for Friday delivery. But, you know, if these United States senators, you know, I assume Mitt Romney, if he has not yet said something, we'll say something.
But the rest of them, you know, if they won't stand up for this, they won't stand up for anything. And from my perspective, they don't deserve Rs behind their name anymore. They deserve TE's behind their name because they're not Republicans and they're not conservatives. They have sacrificed every bit of what they might have considered to be philosophy or ideology at the altar of this guy. And they deserve what's coming to them in ninety four days. And so when we hear people say, I can't believe you're taking out Republicans, they're not Republicans, they're not even they're unwilling to put their country first.
And I don't give them. Whereas like Trump is incapable of doing his job because he's so psychologically broken.
These people know better, they're cowards, they're cowards, they're jellyfish. And you know, it it doesn't matter if you haven't what letter you have behind your name, if you're fundamentally unsuited, unqualified or undeserving of the office, you're going to get what's coming to you on November 3rd. And I believe that the American voters in states across this country are going to tell Republican members of the United States Senate they had their chance and they failed and they failed miserably.
And they can all shuffle off to their offices on K Street and try and gin up some bullshit lobbying. Career when this is over and say those jerks at the Lincoln Project stab me in the back because remember, it'll never be their fault. Right, right. It'll never they'll never they won't take responsibility for anything now. And they sure as hell won't. Next year. Yeah.
So it seems fair to say to the voters listening to this conversation right now. To prepare for the eventuality that this may not be over on November 3rd, that we may have to fight longer than that.
I think there's there's like a one percent chance that this is all decided on the night of November 3rd as far as and I think people should just be prepared for that, like mentally prepared, like this is not going to be a normal election. But I also think that what people need to be prepared for is that no matter what the margin of of victory is, no matter if this is counted and decided two days later or has to go the Supreme Court in December, no matter what the process is, people need to be prepared for the fact that Trump is not going to accept the if he loses.
And I genuinely believe that we are on a path where he could lose it. If he loses, he will not ever give credibility to that outcome. He will never say it was a tough fight. The other guy won fair and square. He will never say it. There is he is going to continue to advance conspiracies. He's going to continue to attack every human being on Earth other than himself. And he is going to make money off of this for the rest of his life.
He is when he leaves the White House and he will leave the White House. This idea that people have that, oh, Trump won't leave when he what Trump will never do is allow himself to be filmed, dragged out of the White House by people in military garb. He'll leave, but he will spend the rest of his life making money off of the mess that he is making out of this election, whether it's Trump TV or, you know, books, Trump University or whatever, he is going to find a way to take the naivete or the trust of so many that so many Americans have put into him and turn it into a cash cow for himself.
Which brings me back to what I said near the beginning of all this, because Donald Trump thinks you're stupid. And if you are a Republican, a lifelong Republican, an active Republican who thinks that you are defending and protecting this president because it's for the party, then you are the stupidest one that on his list. He he has got you wrapped around his finger. He has got you behaving and making decisions that you would never have engaged in in your pre Trump life.
And you will eventually come to a point where you look back and are shocked by your own choices. Donald Trump has got you guys wrapped around his finger. He thinks you're stupid, he's going to make money off of you, and he's putting our country at risk in the process.
Going back to Super Tuesday in early March, we've already seen reports of long lines and hours long waiting times at polling places in states like Texas and California and Nevada and Georgia. And I believe in Georgia, there have been reports of systematic consolidation of polling locations in parts in especially democratic communities and in places where there there are high concentrations of of minority voters.
Jennifer, how common is it for people to have to wait in a long line to vote? Let's just start there?
Well, it's not uncommon, you know, or especially in these states where we see where they have early voting for exactly that reason because of the you know, and and so certainly it's not uncommon to have to wait to vote in a small state like New Hampshire. The longest I've ever waited on line to vote is probably 12 minutes, you know, and that's a long line. There are other states, Florida, other states around the country, where long lines are are are fairly common.
I think the the the issue of consolidating these voting places is a clear effort by one party to to diminish the vote, to, you know, to repress the vote and to do so very specifically in minority communities of all kind. And it is for the same reason they do everything else in this cycle because they know they're losing. And if they allow the people to simply come out and cast a ballot, then they don't have any chance at all winning.
I think the most important thing to talk to people about when we talk about waiting in line is it's worth it. You know, I don't know if it's going to if you're going have to wait for an hour, if you're going to have to wait for 13 hours, I don't know. But it's worth it. It's and it's rare that we get the opportunity as Americans to take a genuinely sacrificial action to protect our country. You know, it's the very few who serve in the military.
It's the very few who who really put their lives on the line for the Constitution. We're not asking you to to put your life on the line, but we are asking you to do something that is sacrificial. I can't think short of protecting my children's lives. I can't think of what is more valuable and more worth my the sacrifice of my time and comfort than to protect our country and to protect the the foundational. Principle of my right to vote and your right to vote, it's our right to be heard, it's our right to choose our representation and to to have a say in the path our country takes in the future.
This election and I said this, too, on an a passed podcast, the outcome of this election is going to decide the framework that your grandchildren grow up in. It's going to decide if Donald Trump is not soundly and overwhelmingly defeated, then we are going to continue into the next generation and in an America where Trump ism has influence.
So when you were chair of the party, the Republican Party in New Hampshire, did you have opportunities or did you have tools at your disposal to combat delays and ensure voters stayed in line? Oh, absolutely.
Any any good state party, any well-organized state party on Election Day, especially on a presidential cycle, has a legal team in place ready to respond. And we certainly did in New Hampshire. And we didn't just you know, when I was chairman, I was there for two cycles. We had in both cycles, we had senatorial races on the ballot in both cycle. You know, you have a legal team in place that's literally hopefully dozens of experts that are sitting in a room together with the telephone.
And you've got the you know, the number your emergency phone numbers out to all of your operatives, all of your poll watchers on your website, any voter know. And so you have that rapid response ability to address it immediately. We've we've had situations where we've had to go to the secretary of state's office and request that they leave a polling place open beyond the hours because of the number of people that are waiting on line outside. We know that that's happened in a lot of other states as well.
The secretary of state's and most states have the authority to do that if it's denied, you have the ability to immediately take it to the courts on Election Day. The most important thing, if you're a voter who's online and they're trying to close your your polling place, do not leave. You don't get offline and go home, stay there, demand that you have the right to vote. At the very least, what some will do is allow that everybody online to vote and and then create a pile of provisional ballots so that as this is as the issue of whether or not they should have closed or should not have closed, the polling place can be adjudicated in the courts.
You're at least your ballot has been cast and has the ability to be counted after the fact. If you're a voter and you're online and they are trying to close your ballot, your ballot location, your voting location, do not get offline called. You can do it. You've all got a smart phone call. The Secretary of state's office. Call your party. If you're a Democrat, call your state Democratic headquarters of a Republican. But don't but don't get offline.
You if you are online before the normal closing time for your polling place, you have a right to cast a ballot. Don't leave.
So we're going to put some links to resources in the show notes for this episode so that folks can begin to prepare themselves with that information. And the phone numbers have them handy on their cell phones and read. I want to touch on one of the thing, because we found that that article about about Georgia. So it's it's often black voters who bear the brunt of these long lines. And in Georgia, for example, these polling places were closing after midnight in their June primary.
And the Atlanta The Atlanta Journal Constitution conducted an analysis of election data in an article from July twenty eight by Mark McNiece and Nick Timal and found that only sixty one percent of majority black precincts closed on time, compared with 80 percent of mostly white precincts.
So what can we do? What can Georgia voters do? What can we do to ensure every voter is able to cast their vote and and combat this kind of systematic discrimination and disenfranchisement in minority communities that are obviously likely to vote against the president? Well, the thing they can do legislatively is demand that the U.S. Senate, the Republican Senate leadership, take up the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and put the preclearance pieces back of the 65 Voting Rights Act back in place that the Supreme Court struck down several years ago.
But in the immediate term, I think it is you know, I think, you know, it's been a long time since we as Americans had to really plan to do anything other than probably go on vacation. Right.
If you think about it, you know, for for a lot of us, it's you know, we haven't in years had to do any real planning or everything. You know, we you get up, you eat, you sleep, you go to work. But all those things are pretty rote, at least they have been in the past, but they're not now. And voting never has been and is certainly less now. And so if you just think about going to the grocery store or getting gas or whatever, you know, you need your mask, you need your hand sanitizer, you know, you want to keep six feet apart, you know, that's that's a pain in the ass enough as it is to just do the sort of normal things to be able to get food to the house.
But when you're talking about standing in a line for several hours, you know, it could be cold, it could be raining, whatever the case might be, you know, you have to do a lot more planning to make sure you've done that. And so I know it sounds almost silly to have to say these things, but again, it goes back to understanding how you can vote, when you can vote, where you can vote all those different things to ensure that your ballot is counted.
We should not assume that the secretary of state of Georgia, who I assume is a is a Brian Kemp stooge, is going to do anything to ensure that it's easier for communities of color to vote in November. We already saw in Ohio just this last weekend that the secretary of state said they're going to, quote, consolidate polling places and that you'll be able to vote, you know, is so long as you're in the right county, you can vote at any polling place.
Well, my concern as a you know, as an armchair electoral scholar is that that means that if you do not go to your precinct, that that ballot probably automatically becomes provisional, which means that it gets counted last, if at all. Right.
So you might say more about provisional ballots. Just really briefly, a provisional ballot and Jennifer will probably no more than I do, but is one where there is there is some issue, probably technical in nature that allows you to cast a ballot, but it will need additional scrutiny and review. After all the mail in ballots, Election Day ballots, early day ballots are counted. Then they'll go through these provisional ballots again. Maybe it's that you again voted in the county in which you live, but not in the precinct in which you live.
Well, that doesn't mean that your ballot and your vote are invalid. It just means that you're not on the roll for that precinct. So eventually some place at the registrar's office, they got to go match you up to the right place, make sure you are who you are and eventually, you know, tally tally the vote in that way. But if you do that for a state the size of Ohio, right. You could have potentially hundreds of thousands of provisional votes and you know, who knows what effect that has.
And so, you know, we should not underestimate. And, you know, look, I spent five weeks in Florida during the during the recount in 2000. And if you don't think that it mattered that Jeb Bush was governor and Katherine Harris was secretary of state, one happened to be the president, presumptive president elect's brother, and the other one happened to be a dyed in the wool Republican. You got another thing coming. And so, you know, this is why these elections matter and why elections do have consequences, because, you know, how how elections are conducted, how votes are counted, the rules that can be put in place administratively, which by which I mean that they're already existing rules and regulations that allow elections officials to do things have massive potential impact on the outcome of election.
So, you know, the best thing we can do and we will do on our part from the Lincoln Project's standpoint is ensure that every voter that we can reach understands how it is they need to prepare and ultimately cast that ballot, whether or not it's in Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Wisconsin, any of the places we've seen trouble so far this year.
Generally, in my experience, certainly the majority of the ballots have become provisional. Ballots have to do with identity issues. Could you did you do you have a voter? Do you have ID required in your state? And you forgot to bring your your license with you? It becomes a provisional ballot. You have the opportunity to go home and get your license or to fill out paperwork or the secretary of state, depending on what the you know, every state is different proof who you are and that you had a right to be there.
In Manchester, New Hampshire, for example, we have a lot of people who move from one district to the next within the city, you know, and so they've moved in between and didn't register to vote in their new district. So they're generally provisional ballots are there's nothing. Nefarious about it, there's it's just it's like it's an administrative thing more than anything. And in an election like this where every vote is going to matter, those ballots are going to take time to go through that administrative process and and be confirmed as legitimate as legitimate votes.
And so it's just one more thing that's going to add to how this is all going to unfold after November 3rd, the actual day passes. But again, I go back to what I said before about don't get offline, cast your ballot. If they tell you it's going to be a provisional ballot, that's OK. Do it. Cast it. Do do what you have to do. Yeah. Get it into the process.
Yeah. The thing that I always remember about provisional ballots is that if you end up casting one, understand that in some places provisional ballots may not actually ever be counted unless the election totals are within a certain margin of victory. So if it's an overwhelming victory, one direction or another, they're not going to even count those provisional ballots. But if it is close, they will they will open them and they will go through the administrative process that you describe.
And one of the one of the challenges that people who really care about ballot integrity have faced over time is that depending on the state, it can be hard to get the get accurate information about how many provisional ballots are sitting in a box that, you know, to make the determination whether or not it's worth it in quotes, to count all those ballots. I'm a believer that every ballot should be counted, no matter what in every state, no matter what the results are, no matter what the process is, you know, but that that just becomes another issue that all of the folks on the legal team for each of the parties, for Republican or Democratic parties, are going to kind of struggle with how many provisional ballots are there really, and then what process do we have to go through to make sure they're all counted.
So to sum up the conversation so far before we move to our upcoming week, make your plans now. Make some noise now to raise awareness about. All the things that you can do to ensure that everybody cast their vote in November read as you're making your plans to vote this November. What story is going to be watching next week?
I mean, what aren't we watching next week? I mean, we've spent we spent the entire episode talking about voting. So if there's if there's other other things that folks need to be aware of.
No, I think, look, we've just passed one hundred and fifty thousand Americans who've died of covid-19.
We reported today, which is I think what prompted Trump's tweet about the voting was that the United States economy shrunk by nearly a third in the second quarter, worse than anything that ever happened in the Great Depression. We have, I believe, what is a vastly underreported story on not only rising unemployment, which I think will happen and will skyrocket again, but also a really I think what will be a rupturing eviction and foreclosure crisis that is probably weeks, if not months, if not weeks away.
And and so I think that my fear as you watch all these data points come both politically and electorally and economically, is that, you know, the first week of September, the second week of September and October could be some of the most devastatingly unsettled economic times since my grandparents were alive who lived through the last Great Depression. And I think it all lays at the feet of Donald Trump. He is to blame. He is singularly to blame. And I think that we must continually tell our voters that if you are a Lincoln Project supporter and listening to this, make sure your friends and your family know whether or not it's the economy, whether or not it's health, whether or not it's dead Americans, whether or not it's kids going back to school, which we are struggling with on a daily basis in my house, whether or not it is college football.
Right. Doak Walker, the big house, the Horseshoe, they're going to be empty this fall. And why are they going to be empty? Because Donald Trump couldn't do the job, won't be able to do the job and is incapable of doing anything other than preserving what he believes to be his own best interest. And what am I watching? What are going to be the next manifestations out of this guy to prove that point to us? As we have said repeatedly, he tells you who he is.
It's never been a surprise. You know, maybe we were maybe we were the sirens screaming into the wind for four years, five years. But now, more than ever, I think you see a president who is in a corner. There's a reason why he's at sixty one percent disapproval in this country, right in like hard 50 percent, because the the scales have fallen from the eyes of the American people. And now it's up to us. We got three months.
Do what you got to do. We'll do what we have to do. If you need us, we're there for you. But I'll tell you this like it's on us now. This is our country and it's time to show, you know, I don't even want to call him a Bozo the Clown because it didn't. It diminishes the level of ugliness and destruction that he's capable of just by being who he is.
Here, here. Jennifer, what stories are you watching?
It it's hard to follow. It's hard to follow that because, I mean, that was very inclusive of what's happening in the world, what we all need to be following.
And you know that the I think the piece of what Reid just said that will probably end up being more influential than people are even realizing right now is the back to school, because when that moment hits, when parents would normally be sending their kids back to school and they're trying to decide whether or not it's safe for their children to be in a classroom at the same moment that infections are continuing to spike, that we're seeing deaths continue to to increase the first time that a teacher is infected or God forbid, loses his or her life to this after being in the classroom.
The the economic, health and emotional turmoil that Americans are going to be experiencing as we go into the fall, I think is immeasurable. It's unlike anything that we've seen. But if you want a new an additional contribution to that conversation about what to look at going ahead, the story as we're all sitting here on Thursday morning recording this to give people a time frame here. The story has just come out seconds ago that Trump has said that he will not be withdrawing federal officers from Portland, even though yesterday there was some kind of withdrawal agreement reached.
He will not be withdrawing those unidentified fatigue, wearing paramilitary looking guys from Portland who are essentially we've seen on video snatch somebody off the street and throw them into an unmarked van. All under the excuse in the guise that they are somehow defending a single building, a federal courthouse there, and and I think that the reason this is so important is because it's just another step that connects everything that we've been talking about today. And to your point, at the very beginning of this conversation, Rod, the the behaviors and the actions that this president has engaged in that are so similar to I oppose the idea of trying to make real Hitler comparisons.
I'm a I'm somebody who believes that, you know, if six million people have not died in the genocide, we shouldn't be saying, you know, he's just like Hitler. But when you look at the totalitarian actions of this president, the way that he has tried to abuse the office of the attorney general, the way he is now abusing the office, the the postmaster, every every appointment that he has made, the way that he has tried to abuse them to protect his banana republic.
And now we see that he is refusing to withdraw these paramilitary troops out of our cities where there is a good argument to be made. They don't have a right to be there where they are clearly conducting themselves in a way that is intended to intimidate and silence free speech amongst Americans and where they are obviously conducting themselves in a manner that is intended to somehow bolster Donald Trump's self-image of being a strong man that he thinks is going to lead him to a better chance of winning this election.
So the fact that we're just learning that even though he came to an agreement yesterday to withdraw those troops, he's now saying, at least for now, that he will not do that. I think that this action in and of itself puts Americans in danger, puts people who are engaging in their constitutional right to be heard in danger and certainly puts our country at large in danger.
Yeah, and let me just say that now that we've seen what what you know and and I don't believe the Chad Wolf is bright enough to come up with any of this stuff. So we should assume Bill Barr is playing his, you know, Eastern European interior minister game somewhere in D.C. But this is a wake up call for Governor Pritzker of Illinois or Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania, Governor Wittmer of Michigan, you know, Governor Cuomo of New York, any place and every place like governors are I mean, states.
I know it seems weird, but in our federal system, states are sovereign. Right. And they have their own they have their own rights. And this is one more thing. Just on the you know, these Republican senators, I mean, think about this. If any Democratic president had sent federal officers into the streets of America, oh, my God, Republicans would be screaming the 10th Amendment, individual liberty, states rights, federal oversight, our federal overreach, all this other stuff.
And so, you know, the governors of these states, the secretary of state of these states, you know, need to be prepared for these guys coming to their to their towns and they need to say, what am I going to do about it? Because I think they caught Governor Brown and Mayor Wheeler off guard. I don't believe that they'll be able to do that to Governor Whitman or Governor Pritzker or Governor Wolf. And, you know, they're not going to stand for it.
They're not going to they don't. The last thing in the world anybody wants is a standoff between DHS officers and the highway patrol or the National Guard. And that's why these things become so dangerous, because it only takes one guy popping off around four really bad things to happen. And so, you know, I think that those leaders at the state level need to make it very clear to the president, to Chad Wolf. To Bill Barr, your goons are not welcome here.
And if you need to call your governor and your senator and your member of Congress and your state legislator and state senator to remind them of that, you should probably do that. And say they're not welcome here. And I can remember very clearly during my four years as chairman in New Hampshire how many times the Republican activist Republican voters, even in our at the state level, Republican elections were sure they were just convinced that Barack Obama was going to try to somehow, you know, send the military in and for the purpose of initiating violence in the streets so that he could take advantage of that to expand his executive powers, to keep the White House for a third term, like all these crazy, completely unsubstantiated worries and conspiracies that the Democratic president was going to do this.
And and I remember very clearly for those who are listening in, those of you who are my my friends in the Republican Party from those days, I know how you reacted. I know what you said. I know what your your your you know, your your goal was and your what you know, what the roots of that were.
And you were so and and I remember. So all of you tell if this happens, I'm going to get my gun and I make no mistake, I will defend my house. I will defend my family. I will. Well, what's happening right this second is that your Republican president is doing exactly what you were sure Barack Obama was plotting to do. And you are standing silent. You are doing nothing to protect your family. You are doing nothing to protect your state.
You're doing nothing to protect your country. You are doing nothing to protect the constitution of this great country. I don't want people to get their guns and go out in their streets, but I want them to stand up and use their voices and finally, finally stand on the principles that all of us, as Republicans, have campaigned on for so long. Because right now you are allowing the Republican president to run roughshod over our Constitution. It's inexcusable.
Thank you both for being on today. And thanks to everyone at home for listening. You can find more information about our movement at Lincoln Project, not us. If you have any questions, comments or just want to give us some advice, you can reach us at a podcast at Lincoln Project. Got us even if we don't respond. Please know that we read everything we got. If you haven't yet, it would really help us if you would subscribe and review the show wherever you get your podcasts.
This actually helps new voters find us and join our mission to beat Trump at the ballot box. And now it's more important than ever for the Lincoln Project. I'm Wran's destler. I'll see you in the next episode.