Biden: You bet I'll go to court to fight this thing out

As predicted by virtually everyone, the late night of election-watching has turned into a bleary morning of… more election-watching. President Trump clearly defied media expectations in a number of places, but some key states are still counting ballots so nothing is certain yet and I refuse to jinx us by declaring victory prematurely. Both presidential campaigns appear to be settling into a litigious mood, however. For reasons that don’t appear clear at all, the President was already talking about going to court to stop the mail-in ballot counting from dragging on forever. But that’s not exactly what he said. Trump talked about “going to the Supreme Court” because he wants “all voting to stop.” Of course, the actual voting has stopped in all but a couple of states where Democrats instituted some seriously loose rules for how and when mail-in ballots can be submitted. At this point, we’re just waiting for the massive pile of mail-in ballots to be counted. That didn’t stop Joe Biden from jumping in on the action, of course. He declared that he’s ready to go to court as well. (Associated Press)

Democrat Joe Biden’s campaign says it will fight any efforts by President Donald Trump’s campaign to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent ballots from being tabulated.

In a statement sent before 4 a.m. Wednesday, Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon called Trump’s statement that he will “be going to the U.S. Supreme Court” and that he wants “all voting to stop” “outrageous, unprecedented and incorrect.”

O’Malley Dillon says the Biden campaign has “legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist that effort.” And she says, “They will prevail.”

The idea that the Supreme Court would step in this early and halt the counting of legitimately submitted ballots is pretty far-fetched. I’m pretty sure we all knew that the massive number of mail-in ballots was going to leave a huge mess to clean up, but there’s nothing illegal about it. Is this a good way to run a national election? Obviously not. But every year there are some number of people who vote by mail and all of those ballots have to be counted. There’s just a boatload more of them this year.

There’s enough flexibility in the system that the remaining states can finish counting and report their totals before the courts need to step in, assuming one very big factor. If any of them are so razor-tight that they go into mandatory recount territory we could be waiting quite a while. Visions of 2020 are already haunting everyone who’s considering that possibility. Barring that scenario, however, we could still have a winner announced as soon as later today or almost certainly by the end of the week.

Should we expect to take away any sort of lesson about massive mail-in voting from this fiasco? The system is undergoing its true test at this moment. But is this the new normal? Or do we go back to mostly in-person voting if there’s a vaccine available next year? In an op-ed at the WaPo, Michele Norris has already staked out the liberal position, declaring that we should make these changes permanent.

2020 will be remembered as a year when record numbers showed up at the polls despite an unprecedented effort by the Republican Party leaders to suppress the vote.

Their continued and desperate attempts at suppression need to stop. A party that can’t win an election without rigging the system is not worthy of leadership. I know that a party that uses online campaigns of misinformation and encourages and condones intimidation tactics at polling places is undermining the foundations of a democracy for which so many have died.

You can’t wrap yourself in the flag while working to strangle all that it represents.

Wow. Could you be any more dramatic? I’m not going to argue that more turnout is better. The larger the percentage of Americans who cast a vote, the more confidence we can have that the ultimate winner was truly the preferred choice of a majority of the country. But at the same time, we set an “election day” for a reason. Elections that drag on for weeks and months just wear the country down and create uncertainty that impacts everything from the economy to people’s mental health.

All of the candidates in every race, as well as the voters, deserve to have a fixed window of time to campaign and make their case. When that period ends, we make our decisions and go to the polls. Everyone who votes weeks in advance does so without all of the information they might want when considering their choices. And dredging up huge numbers of additional votes as ballots are “found” after election day saps the confidence of the public in the legitimacy of the outcome.

Perhaps we can excuse the surge in mail-in voting in 2020 because of concerns over the pandemic. But it’s not something we should make a habit of.