I’m thinking about what comes next. I know these six days are critical ones for getting out the vote. Not just for the Presidential race, but for Senate, house, and state and local races. But in places like Seattle, New York, and here in D.C. — places where Electoral College votes are sure to go to Biden — there is a lot of talk turning towards what to do if Trump refuses to concede defeat, if the election is close, or a landslide for Biden, if Trump does what he has always done: refuse to be civil and respect democratic norms. There is a long period between November 3 and Inauguration Day that could be contentious. Trump’s win in 2016 makes him Commander In Chief until noon on January 20, 2021 regardless of the outcome on Tuesday.
Both parties are involved in a flurry of lawsuits. Democrats are suing to make it easier to vote. Republicans are suing to make it harder. Yesterday, Republicans won a case that will limit ballot drop off boxes to one per county in Texas. That means Houston’s Harris county, with a population of 4.7 million will be that much harder to turn in early ballots in. It means many people will not be able to walk to a drop box at their neighborhood library, as I did. They’ll have to drive or take a bus across town. Harder means fewer people will have the time and energy to take up the task. I expect Houston organizers are working out Covid-safe transportation to the drop box and the polls. Other lawsuits concern which ballots to count. Some states allow comparison of signatures to disqualify a ballot. But there are no standards. It’s easy to imagine disqualifying signatures based on the slightest variation if the name and neighborhood suggest the voter is a likely Democratic voter. Republicans are preparing to call anything after prime-time TV election viewing ends late Tuesday a fraudulent vote. But no state certifies its election during that window. The certification process normally takes weeks. It is reasonable that it would take even longer this year given the huge interest in this election, pandemic precautions, and the huge number of absentee and mail ballots.
Gaming out the possibilities for Tuesday night, Wednesday and on and on in to November is wise. I remember the long season of ballot counting in 2000. Trump may do much worse than the Brooks Brothers riot of well-dressed Republican operatives that his friend and convicted felon Roger Stone drummed up to end the Florida recount and deny Al Gore the presidency. Making plans now for after Election Day is only reasonable.
Regional labor boards are passing resolutions calling for a general strike. Locally, 730DC alerted me to a group organizing bicyclists to swarm the streets of D.C. Cyclist swarms were ever present over the summer. Nimble and more socially distant than a march, and able to disperse quickly, their chants and bike-trailer sound systems brought me to my window and out to U Street over and over again in support of June and July’s Black Lives Matter protests.
I expect that people on foot will take over the streets regardless of Trump’s response to the election results, but cyclists can move faster on the outskirts of a crowd, can see more of the city quickly. And individual cyclists can get in and out of an area quickly depending on an individual’s level of comfort with a fast-changing situation. It’s a good technique for writing poems that tie together different neighborhoods on the same night. It may be just as good for mobilizing against a fascist coup.
This is one way that D.C. residents are able to support democracy even though we don’t have statehood and lack a vote in Congress: freedom of assembly at the heart of the capital.
I’m thinking ahead to next week. But it’s important to keep getting out the vote. To make sure Trump loses in as clear and dramatic fashion as possible as early as possible. A win by one vote is still a win to be respected, but a big win will save everyone a lot of drama and stress and headaches.