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Stopping the '24 Insurrection in '22
Our last best chance to protect the integrity of the 2024 election is right in front of us
Moments of good news for democracy are rare these days; and bipartisan efforts to protect democracy are basically non-existent. Therefore, it was notable when Senator Mitch McConnell endorsed the bipartisan efforts to reform the Electoral Counts Act. No American walking the planet has done more to undermine our democracy than McConnell. I don’t blame anyone for being skeptical, but McConnell received validation from none other than Donald Trump. The former President/future inmate took to Truth Social to obliquely encourage the Senate Minority Leader’s murder. It would be easier to laugh off these threats if Trump had not dispatched a murderous mob to the Capitol to hang his Vice President.
Lo and behold, McConnell does something good. While the proposed Electoral Counts Act reforms are far from perfect, they are sensible improvements on a flawed loophole-ridden law. According to the New York Times:
One crucial piece of the measure spells out that the role of the vice president, who presides over the counting of the electoral votes as the president of the Senate, is strictly ceremonial … The legislation also seeks to prevent state officials from submitting electoral votes that do not align with the popular vote in a state, another answer to Mr. Trump’s election subversion attempt, which included a bid to have allies submit slates of pro-Trump electors in states won by Mr. Biden. It would substantially increase the threshold for Congress to consider an objection to electoral votes, requiring that at least one-fifth of each chamber sign on to such challenges, which currently need only one senator and one House member.
These reforms undoubtedly raise the difficulty for Republicans in 2024 as they try to succeed where Trump failed in 2022. Everyone involved deserves praise for coming together to fill this pothole on the road to a peaceful transition of power. I would note that McConnell’s actions are the equivalent of giving someone a dose of a vaccine after sawing off their leg, but I guess that’s better than nothing (or sawing off the other leg). I digress. This is a good thing. I fear, however, that fixing the Electoral Counts Act gives too many people false comfort about the next election.
Donald Trump failed to steal the last election due to a bad plan concocted by lunatics and executed by the dumbest people in American politics. The next insurrection will not happen in the Capitol; it will happen in every polling place in America. It will be less overt and harder to stop.
The plot to steal the 2020 election took shape after the votes were cast and counted. It involved efforts to stop the certification process, slates of alternative electors, and a cockamamie scam to have Vice President Pence simply declare Trump President. Discussion of the Electoral Counts Act reforms would render such a plan null and void. There are many reasons why that plan failed. First among them was that when the vote counting ended, Biden had more votes. Taking votes off the board or handing the election to the person with fewer votes is nearly impossible. Even Republicans with huge appetites for voter suppression, like Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, were unwilling to go along with that plan. In 2024, the Republicans plan to steal the election by stopping votes from being counted.
Steve Bannon actively promotes this plan on his podcast. Using his media platform, Bannon recruits his listeners to sign up to be poll workers so that the MAGA movement can seize the electoral apparatus in this country precinct by precinct.
At Bannon’s urging, thousands of Big Lie-believing MAGA adherents are signing up to be precinct officers, giving them real influence in how elections are conducted. The strategy is working. According to a recent report:
ProPublica contacted GOP leaders in 65 key counties, and 41 reported an unusual increase in signups since Bannon’s campaign began. At least 8,500 new Republican precinct officers (or equivalent lowest-level officials) joined those county parties. We also looked at equivalent Democratic posts and found no similar surge.
The Steve Bannon-led insurgent operation isn’t the only group trying to rig elections. The Republican National Committee is recruiting poll workers for this very same purpose. According to Politico, the RNC:
… has been relying on a stable of the party’s most prolific spreaders of false stolen-election theories to pilot a sweeping “election integrity” operation to recruit and coach thousands of poll workers in eight battleground states, according to new recordings of organizing summits held this spring in Florida and Pennsylvania obtained by POLITICO.
Unlike Trump’s dumb ass plan, this one could really work. The Republicans are putting people in positions to prevent legitimate votes from being counted. Biden’s insurmountable advantage in the post-election shenanigans relied on his being ahead in the vote count. This new plan aims to ensure that never happens. To borrow a phrase from my friend Jon Lovett, this is “pre-surrection.” If the Republicans successfully implement this strategy, the much-trumpeted reforms to the Electoral Counts Act will never come into play.
How to Stop It
There is a way to stop Steve Bannon and his MAGA goons from stealing the 2024 election. For Republicans, the midterms are a dress rehearsal. For Democrats, the midterms are our last, best chance to cut them off at the pass. As the Washington Post documented last week, most Republican nominees on the ballot this fall are Big Lie proponents. Whether those folks win or not — particularly in the state and in offices that oversee elections — will help determine whether the winner of the 2024 election resides in the White House in 2025. I imagine there is a level of exhaustion in knowing that democracy depends on every election, but these are the times in which we live. The stakes will remain incredibly high up until the moment the Republicans are forced to walk away from MAGA extremism due to multiple asskickings in a row. The only language they understand is brute political force. Our opportunities to deliver that message come every two years. None of us chose to live at a hinge point in history, but we do.
In an effort to be more constructive than yelling “Vote!” at the top of my digital lungs, I want to offer four specific courses of action:
First, go to Vote Save America to find volunteer and donation opportunities related to the most important races and organizations protecting the vote.
Second, support Run For Something, which is working with local progressive candidates and focusing on the local offices in charge of election administration.
Third, sign up to be a poll watcher via Power the Polls
Finally, find the people in your life and convince them to vote like their democracy depended on it. Because it does (annoyingly).