Common Dreams

'Banking for the People': Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez unveil bill to foster creation of public banks across US

"It's long past time to open doors for people who have been systematically shut out and provide a better option for those grappling with the costs of simply trying to participate in an economy they have every right to—but has been rigged against them."

That's according to Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and a handful of other progressives in Congress introduced legislation on Friday they say "would provide a much-needed financial lifeline to states and municipalities, as well as unbanked and underbanked residents, that have been left in dire straits by the Covid-19 pandemic."

Specifically, as a joint statement from the congresswomen explains, the Public Banking Act (pdf) would enable "the creation of state and locally administered public banks by establishing the Public Bank Grant program administered by the secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board which would provide grants for the formation, chartering, and capitalization of public banks."

"We spent $30 trillion in the global crisis from 2007-2009 propping up financial institutions that held the country hostage for their reckless behavior. Only $8 trillion dollars has been committed thus far in the Covid-19 pandemic," Tlaib noted. "These banks have been, are, and will continue to depend on the public dollar. It is time for this relationship to be reciprocated and have the banks work for the people and not solely privatized profits wreaking havoc on communities of color."

In addition to allowing the Treasury secretary and the Fed's board to give grants to public banks for "bank formation, capitalization, developing financial market infrastructure, supporter operations, covering unexpected losses, and more without the requirement to provide matching funds," the bill:

  • Allows the Federal Reserve to charter and grant membership to public banks, and in conjunction with the appropriate federal agencies, establish a separate regulatory scheme with respect to these.
  • Establishes public banking incubator program to provide technical assistance to public member banks to develop technologies, practices, and data that promote public welfare.
  • Establishes new liquidity and credit facilities at the Federal Reserve to provide direct federal support to state and local public banks and their communities;
  • Prohibits investment in fossil fuel projects.

Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez argue that public banks not only would benefit city and state governments and aspiring entrepreneurs due to lower interest rates and fees, but also could result in broader community benefits by, for example, funding public infrastructure projects. Ocasio-Cortez called their legislation "monumental."

"Public banks are uniquely able to address the economic inequality and structural racism exacerbated by the banking industry's discriminatory policies and predatory practices," she said. "The creation of public banks will also facilitate the use of public resources to construct a myriad of public goods including affordable housing and local renewable energy projects. Public banks empower states and municipalities to establish new channels of public investment to help solve systemic crises."

The other half of the Squad—Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)—and Reps. Jesús G. "Chuy" García (D-Ill.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Al Green (D-Texas), Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) are backing the bill, as are 29 outside groups.

Organizations supporting the measure include the California Public Banking Alliance (CBPA), Take on Wall Street, Americans for Financial Reform, Beneficial State Foundation, Communications Workers of America, Friends of the Earth, Food & Water Action, Americans for Financial Reform, California Reinvestment Coalition, Center for Popular Democracy, Community Change, Farm Aid, Institute for Policy Studies, Jobs With Justice, NJ Citizen Action, Oil Change International, Oil Change International, People's Action, Strong Economy for All, UNITE HERE, Working Families Party, Democracy Collaborative, ACRE, and Public Citizen.

Climate Justice Alliance policy coordinator Anthony Rogers-Wright expressed excitement that "our values regarding the need for a rapid Fossil Fuel phaseout" are represented in the bill, highlighting evidence that economically, "Big Oil is in big trouble and the people don't want the money they keep in their banks utilized to bailout or finance an industry that's killing people and planet."

Take on Wall Street campaign director Porter McConnell explained that her group supports the Public Banking Act "because public banks can create jobs and boost the local economy, save cities and states money, and lend counter-cyclically to blunt the impact of Wall Street booms and busts."

"As we learned recently from the Paycheck Protection Program, when you pay big Wall Street banks to provide public goods, they inevitably reward themselves and their friends at the expense of white, Black, and brown working families," McConnell said, referencing the business loan program established in March by Congress' last Covid-19 relief measure. "We deserve a financial system for working families, not the big banks."

Experts warn Trump HHS is 'endangering people' by covering up key data

s surging coronavirus hospitalizations across the U.S. push already-strained medical facilities to the brink of full capacity, internal documents obtained by NPR show that the Trump administration is withholding from the public critical hospital data that experts say would be extremely useful in helping communities prepare for, track, and overcome Covid-19 outbreaks.

NPR reported Friday that the documents—which are based on hospital data collected and analyzed daily by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—"highlight trends in hospitalizations and pinpoint cities nearing full hospital capacity and facilities under stress. They paint a granular picture of the strain on hospitals across the country that could help local citizens decide when to take extra precautions against Covid-19."

"The documents show that detailed information hospitals report to HHS every day is reviewed and analyzed—but circulation seems to be limited to a few dozen government staffers from HHS and its agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health," NPR noted. "Only one member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Adm. Brett Giroir, appears to receive the documents directly."

Dated October 27, the most recent internal report obtained by NPR shows that around 24% of the nation's hospitals—including facilities in major cities like Atlanta and Minneapolis—are utilizing more than 80% of their intensive care unit capacity and names specific hospitals that are over 95% capacity. The document also shows an uptick in ventilator usage over the past month as coronavirus infections continue to rise at a record-shattering rate.

Experts said the detailed local data currently only circulated among a small group of Trump administration officials would, if made widely available, play a significant role in better informing Americans and health officials about nearby hotspots and encouraging greater safety precautions.

"The neighborhood data, the county data, and metro-area data can be really helpful for people to say, 'Whoa, they're not kidding, this is right here,'" Lisa Lee, former chief science officer for public health surveillance at the CDC, told NPR. "It can help public health prevention folks get their messages across and get people to change their behavior."

While some state officials are able to access HHS reports for their own state, the inability to view broader regional data leaves them without potentially crucial information.

"Hospitals in Tennessee serve patients who are from Arkansas and Mississippi and Kentucky and Georgia and vice versa, and so we're a little bit blind to what's going on there," said Melissa McPheeters, adjunct research professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "When we see hospitals that are particularly near those state borders having increases, one of the things we can't tell is: Is that because hospitals in an adjacent state are full? What's going on there? And that could be a really important piece of the picture."

Ryan Panchadsaram, co-founder of the website Covid Exit Strategy and a former data official in the Obama administration, said the decision to keep the detailed hospitalization data out of public view is "reckless," particularly in the face of soaring coronavirus cases and hospitalizations nationwide.

"It's endangering people," Panchadsaram told NPR. "We're now in the third wave, and I think our only way out is really open, transparent, and actionable information."

In a tweet Friday, Panchadsaram wrote that "there's a mismatch: the rigorous work that's happening internally by the rank and file at HHS/CDC/USDS [United States Digital Service] and what is being shared externally by the administration."

According to publicly available data analyzed by the Covid Tracking Project, more than 46,000 people in the U.S. are currently hospitalized due to the coronavirus as of Thursday, which saw a daily record of 90,400-plus new cases.

"Approaching the eve of the election, President Trump has downplayed the steep rise in cases, attributing much of it to increased testing," the New York Times noted earlier this week. "But the number of people hospitalized for the virus tells a different story, climbing an estimated 46 percent from a month ago and raising fears about the capacity of regional healthcare systems to respond to overwhelming demand."

Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at George Washington University's Milken School of Public Health, tweeted Friday that the HHS hospitalization data "needs to be available to the public."

"It is critical to hospital surge planning and guiding local and state policies," said Wen.

Federal judge invokes 'extraordinary measures' to ensure mail-in ballots get delivered on time

A federal judge on Friday ordered the United States Postal Service to take "extraordinary measures" at numerous processing centers in order to guarantee the timely delivery of millions of ballots by Election Day.

Reuters reports U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said the order is in line with the USPS's October 20 "Extraordinary Measures Memorandum," (pdf) which states that "the proper handling and timely delivery of election mail... remains our number one priority."

USPS said the measures include, but are not limited to, "expedited handling, extra deliveries, and special pickups... to collect blank ballots entered by election officials to voters, or completed ballots returned by voters."

Affected locations include: Alabama; Alaska; Atlanta; central Pennsylvania; Colorado; Detroit; Fort Worth, Texas; Indiana; Louisiana; the mid-Carolinas; Mississippi; northern New England; Oklahoma; South Carolina; and other areas.

Sullivan said the measures apply to places where election mail processing scores did not exceed 90% for at least two days between October 26 and 28.

The Washington Post reports Sullivan also ordered the Postal Service to provide written explanation for each district where less than 80% of ballots are delivered on time each day. Attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice blamed staffing issues and increased mail volume for such delays.

"At the same time that staffing unavailability has become a factor, there has been an increase volume in package and market dominant products," John Robinson, a DOJ lawyer, said in a legal filing reported by the Post.

Friday's order comes three days after Sullivan directed postal employees to complete as many late trips as needed to boost USPS's on-time delivery rate. Earlier this month, the judge—who is an appointee of President Bill Clinton—ruled that it is in the public interest to block USPS policies that have caused widespread delays since July.

Earlier this week, USPS urged voters to mail their ballots by October 27 in order to ensure on-time arrival and counting eligibility by Election Day, which is November 3.

While postal workers have tried to keep up with deliveries, the sheer number of early ballots cast, as well as what critics call politically motivated delays caused by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, have resulted in major issues affecting delivery times.

Last week, the USPS inspector general issued a report (pdf) that found changes made by DeJoy—including reducing extra delivery trips and changes in the way mail is sorted—"negatively impacted the quality and timeliness of mail delivery."

On Thursday, USPS said it had delivered over 122 million ballots, both blank and completed, as Tuesday's election fast approaches. Early voting has occurred at a record pace in 2020—according to the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida, more than 85 million Americans have already cast their ballots.

Horrifying video shows Philadelphia cops assaulted a family in a car — then tried to use it as propaganda

The conduct of Philadelphia police officers and the nation's largest law enforcement association this week amounted to what one journalist called "an extraordinary mix of police violence and disinformation," after it was revealed Friday that officers beat a young mother who had accidentally driven into a protest and then snatched her toddler from the car and later used his image in pro-police propaganda.

Along with several posts urging voters to support President Donald Trump, the Fraternal Order of Police on Thursday night posted a photo of a toddler who the union falsely claimed had been found by Philadelphia police "wandering around barefoot" amid the "lawlessness" of the fourth night of demonstrations over the killing of Walter Wallace, Jr.

But the union soon deleted the post after being confronted by the Philadelphia Inquirer and lawyers for the two-year-old boy's mother, Rickia Young, said the officers forcibly removed the toddler from his mother's vehicle after smashing the car's windows and violently arresting Young after she accidentally drove into an area where protesters were being confronted by lines of riot police.

The reality of what the photo shows, tweeted HuffPost reporter Ryan J. Reilly, offers "a tremendously valuable lesson in why you always need to treat initial police narratives with intense skepticism.


According to attorneys Riley H. Ross III and Kevin Mincey, Young attempted to turn around immediately after she turned down a street where police were clashing with protesters Thursday night, while her son and teenage nephew were in the car with her.

While she was trying to make a three-point turn as directed by officers, the police suddenly surrounded her SUV, smashing Young's windows while the toddler sat in the back seat. The police violently dragged Young out of the car, beat her with batons, and then threw her to the ground.

A nearby resident, Aapril Rice caught the police violence on video:

While Young was left with a bloodied head and badly bruised left side from the police attack and was detained and separated from her son for hours, a female police officer was photographed holding the toddler in what was later used for what Ross called "propaganda."

"Using this kid in a way to say, 'This kid was in danger and the police were only there to save him,' when the police actually caused the danger," Ross told the Washington Post. "That little boy is terrified because of what the police did."

The child was also hurt during the attack and was taken to Children's Hospital to be treated for a head injury after being reunited with his mother. According to the Post, the family still has not been able to locate the SUV or their belongings, including the toddler's hearing aids, which were inside.

Observers on social media expressed shock at the story, with filmmaker Peter Ramsey tweeting that accounts like that of Young and her child are evidence of a police force that is "begging to be defunded."



"This is state sanctioned terror," tweeted Vox journalist Kainaz Amaria.

Elizabeth Warren rips into the plot to sabotage the Postal service — and the election

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday blasted members of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors for "acting as accomplices" to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy while he sabotages the mail—and, as a result, the election—after the panel rejected her request for financial disclosure filings and refused to commit to reversing DeJoy's destructive policy changes.

"The USPS Board of Governors has refused to release information about their own financial ties and has doubled down on their support of Louis DeJoy," the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement. "Once again, I call on the board members to release their financial disclosure forms, remove DeJoy, and do their jobs by reversing DeJoy's actions."

In August, as Common Dreams reported, Warren sent a letter demanding that the six members of the Board of Governors—all of whom were appointed by President Donald Trump—release their federal financial disclosure documents so lawmakers and the public could determine whether they "have investments or outside responsibilities that potentially pose conflicts of interest."

But in a letter (pdf) to Warren dated last week, USPS Board of Governors Chairman Robert Duncan—who previously served as chairman of the Republican National Committee—said the board "respectfully declines to publicly release the financial disclosures of its individual members," citing ethics regulations that exempt so-called Special Government Employees from financial disclosure requirements.

Warren has previously dismissed the exemption as a "dumb loophole."

In a separate letter (pdf) released by Warren's office Wednesday, Duncan made clear that the board has no intention of removing DeJoy—a Republican megadonor to Trump—or working to reverse his operational changes that caused major and persistent mail delays across the country, intensifying concerns about mass disqualification of ballots that arrive late due to no fault of the voter.

The Board of Governors, wrote Duncan, "remains fully confident that Mr. DeJoy is the right person for the job"—an assessment Warren slammed as "absurd."

"The ongoing postal delivery delays," Warren replied, "reveal that there is no reason for their confidence."

Economists warn against deceptive White House spin on new GDP figures: 'Don't be fooled'

With the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis set to release third-quarter economic growth estimates Thursday that are expected to show a historic surge in GDP following the worst contraction on record in the previous quarter, experts and Democratic lawmakers are sounding the alarm about President Donald Trump's election-minded efforts to portray the deceptive numbers as proof that the economy is roaring back under his leadership.

Even though the numbers have not yet officially been released, the Trump reelection campaign is already running Facebook ads touting the "fastest GDP growth in history" and celebrating the "Great American Comeback" that the figures supposedly show.

"The economic calamity threatening American households is largely self-inflicted, and will get even more dire unless Congress takes bipartisan action soon."
—Rep. Don Beyer

But several economists and analysts have warned in recent days that the new BEA statistics will likely paint a highly misleading picture of the economy, which remains mired in deep recession as the coronavirus continues to spread and Congress fails to approve additional relief spending, leaving tens of millions of jobless and hungry Americans without desperately needed assistance.

The BEA is expected to peg third-quarter GDP growth at over 30% at an annualized rate—a figure that would be staggering if it didn't come on the heels of the worst GDP drop in U.S. history in the second quarter.

"Some basic math and data can help pierce through the mirage," economist and Brookings Institute fellow Jay Shambaugh wrote in a blog post Monday. "One reason 30 percent growth doesn't mean the economy is healed stems from how percentage changes work when going down and then up. If you own a stock priced at $100 and it drops 30 percent, it is now worth $70. If it gains back 30 percent, it is then worth $91 (the gain is just $21 because 30 percent of 70 is 21)."

"In the same manner," Shambaugh continued, "the large drop in output in the second quarter followed by similar sized increases in the third quarter will still leave a large hole."


Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, noted Tuesday that "the economy would have to grow at a 53.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter to make up the ground lost in the first and second quarters."

Given that the BEA figures are likely to be among the last major economic indicators released ahead of the November 3 election, the Trump campaign has rushed to seize upon the numbers and the president is all but certain to hail them upon their release Thursday morning.

"Trump will claim credit. Don't be fooled," tweeted economist Robert Reich. "It follows one of sharpest drops in history. And the growth hasn't lasted. Latest indicators show big loss of momentum."

In a brief report (pdf) released Wednesday ahead of the new BEA statistics, Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee said Thursday's numbers "will not fully reflect the worsening public health crisis."

"Instead, on the surface, it will appear to suggest a dramatic economic turnaround," the committee says. "However, even record-breaking third quarter real GDP growth of 30%-35% will leave the U.S. economy substantially smaller than when the year began."


The Trump campaign's touting of the GDP figures as evidence of a booming economic recovery also ignores the deteriorating material circumstances of countless Americans as millions remain unemployed and struggle to afford food, rent, and other basic expenses.

Shortly after confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court late Monday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) adjourned the Senate for recess until November 9, effectively killing the chances of a coronavirus relief package ahead of Election Day.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee, said in a statement Wednesday that "Republicans' failure to reauthorize unemployment supports is a catastrophic mistake that threatens to engulf the personal finances of millions of families."

"The economic calamity threatening American households is largely self-inflicted, and will get even more dire unless Congress takes bipartisan action soon," Beyer added. "We are no longer talking about stimulus, we are talking about life-preservers for millions people who have been terribly hurt and face worse personal tragedy."


Here's why Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg are so adamant about defeating Trump

"There is a kind of an official view about democracy—it says that you, the public, are spectators not participants," activist and scholar Noam Chomsky points out in a new video. "You have a function. The function is to show up every couple of years, push a lever, go home, don't bother the important people who run the world, you've done your job. We can't accept that."

At the same time, Chomsky is vehement about the urgent necessity of defeating Donald Trump. "Sometimes it's worthwhile to take a little time away from real politics, an interlude, and make sure you get somebody out. This time it is critically important," Chomsky says in the video (produced by my colleagues with the Vote Trump Out campaign). "There's a real malignant cancer that has to be excised."

Excising Trump from the top of the executive branch is essential. "Take the trouble to remove him from the political world," Chomsky says. "Then go on with the real work of politics. Creating. Understanding. Consciousness. Organizing. Activism and engagement. Everything from your local school board, your local community, on to the international world. All the time. That includes pressing whoever is in office to keep their word and go beyond."


Defeating Trump is a crucial—and certainly insufficient—precondition for making possible the kind of changes in government policies that are desperately required for social decency. "Under a Biden presidency, progressives would need to be persistent from the very beginning in challenging and opposing many of the things that he may propose," Daniel Ellsberg wrote this month in the Detroit Metro Times. "Yet, for now, the imperative need is to free the nation from Trump's unhinged and destructive grip."

Ellsberg, who has been an activist for peace and social justice ever since releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, has no illusions about the Democratic nominee. "Joe Biden's record is not at all progressive," he tweeted last week. "So how can I ask progressives to vote for Biden and urge others to do so? Three words: Trump. Climate. Democracy."

And Ellsberg added: "If you're not urging others to vote for Biden, you're not helping remove a would-be Mussolini from the White House balcony. Especially in swing states, by encouraging others to vote for someone else or not to vote at all, you're risking that Trump stays, and the Paris climate goals stay decisively out of reach." Ellsberg urged people to "do all you can" to "remove a climate-denier and would-be dictator from the White House."

President Trump is a dream come true for those who despise democracy. The year he moved into the Oval Office, a book by historian Nancy MacLean—Democracy in Chains—documented what she called "the single most powerful and least understood threat to democracy today: the attempt by the billionaire-backed radical right to undo democratic governance."

The forces aligned with Donald Trump have achieved enormous breakthroughs during the last four years in their quest to "undo democratic governance." The potential for democracy in the United States will largely hinge on whether Trump gains re-election.

'Dangerously authoritarian': Trump says 'hopefully' courts will stop states from counting ballots after Election Day

President Donald Trump on Wednesday once again openly voiced hope that U.S. courts—now packed with his right-wing judges—will intervene and stop states from counting legally submitted ballots after November 3, remarks that came just before the U.S. Supreme Court suggested it could invalidate late-arriving Pennsylvania votes after Election Day.

"Hopefully the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after November 3rd to count ballots, that won't be allowed by the various courts because as you know we're in courts on that," Trump said during a press conference in Las Vegas.

Trump went on to tout as a "big victory" the Supreme Court's ruling earlier this week barring Wisconsin from extending its absentee ballot deadline past November 3 at 8:00 pm local time.

"The president is essentially saying he will litigate to try and stop the count of absentee ballots (the count of which is never completed on Election Day)," tweeted Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. According to one estimate, "about 10 percent of all votes" cast in the 2016 election were counted after Election Day.

"Also, when is he imagining that military mail-in votes will be counted?" asked Ifill. "He is trying to make this sound normal. It's not."

Watch:


"He's saying it out loud: he wants courts to block legally cast ballots from being counted," said Brian Klaas, a Washington Post contributor and associate professor of global politics University College London. "This is so dangerously authoritarian."

The president's comments came shortly before the Supreme Court late Wednesday permitted North Carolina and Pennsylvania to extend their arrival deadlines for mail-in ballots, blocking Republican efforts to require strict Election Day deadlines.

But, as Common Dreams reported, the high court left open the possibility of invalidating late-arriving Pennsylvania ballots shortly after the election. Conservative Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, said he only "reluctantly" denied the Pennsylvania GOP's push for the rejection of ballots that arrive after Election Day and said the high court could take up the case again after November 3.

"The Supreme Court may throw out ballots that arrive after Election Day—even though they are valid under current law," warned Slate's Mark Joseph Stern. "DO NOT MAIL YOUR BALLOT. Drop it off or vote in person. Don't leave your vote in the hands of the Supreme Court."

Top election official immediately debunks Trump's attacks on counting ballots

Countering President Donald Trump's false suggestion Tuesday that tallying votes after Election Day is unlawful, a top official at the U.S. Federal Election Commission said that in fact "counting ballots—all of 'em—is the appropriate, proper, and very legal way to determine who won."

"An election is not a reality show with a big reveal at the end," Ellen Weintraub, an election attorney and a Democratic commissioner at the FEC, tweeted in response to Trump's insistence that a winner be officially declared on the night of November 3.

"All we get on Election Night are projections from TV networks," Weintraub noted. "We never have official results on Election Night."

Trump's comments Tuesday came amid growing fears that the president could attempt to take advantage of slower-than-usual vote counting—which is expected due to the unprecedented surge in mail-in voting amid the pandemic—to falsely declare victory on Election Night and dismiss as illegitimate legally submitted ballots counted after November 3.

Those concerns were intensified by Trump-nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh's falsehood-riddled concurring opinion in the Supreme Court's late Monday ruling that barred the battleground state of Wisconsin from extending its absentee ballot deadline. The decision means that ballots received by Wisconsin officials after Election Day cannot be counted, even if they are postmarked by November 3.

In his opinion, Kavanaugh declared that absentee ballots arriving after Election Day—which is allowed in more than a dozen states—could "flip the results of the election." But as Justice Elena Kagan noted in her dissent (pdf), "there are no results to 'flip' until all valid votes are counted."

"And nothing could be more 'suspicio[us]' or 'improp[er]' than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on Election Night," Kagan added. "To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process."

Slate's Mark Joseph Stern warned late Tuesday that "by deploying so many falsehoods in his 18-page opinion, Kavanaugh sent a signal to lower court judges: Uphold voter suppression at all costs, even if you have to ignore or contort the factual record to do it."

"Trump's dozens of hackish judicial nominees will hear this message loud and clear," Stern wrote. "At least one member of the Supreme Court is willing to construct a fantasy world that is utterly detached from our grim reality of mass disenfranchisement. If we cannot trust the justices to tell the truth now, why should we believe them if they decide the election next week?"

Top federal election official corrects Trump on what a 'proper' vote count looks like

Countering President Donald Trump's false suggestion Tuesday that tallying votes after Election Day is unlawful, a top official at the U.S. Federal Election Commission said that in fact "counting ballots—all of 'em—is the appropriate, proper, and very legal way to determine who won."

"An election is not a reality show with a big reveal at the end," Ellen Weintraub, an election attorney and a Democratic commissioner at the FEC, tweeted in response to Trump's insistence that a winner be officially declared on the night of November 3.

"All we get on Election Night are projections from TV networks," Weintraub noted. "We never have official results on Election Night."


Trump's comments Tuesday came amid growing fears that the president could attempt to take advantage of slower-than-usual vote counting—which is expected due to the unprecedented surge in mail-in voting amid the pandemic—to falsely declare victory on Election Night and dismiss as illegitimate legally submitted ballots counted after November 3.

Those concerns were intensified by Trump-nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh's falsehood-riddled concurring opinion in the Supreme Court's late Monday ruling that barred the battleground state of Wisconsin from extending its absentee ballot deadline. The decision means that ballots received by Wisconsin officials after Election Day cannot be counted, even if they are postmarked by November 3.

In his opinion, Kavanaugh declared that absentee ballots arriving after Election Day—which is allowed in more than a dozen states—could "flip the results of the election." But as Justice Elena Kagan noted in her dissent (pdf), "there are no results to 'flip' until all valid votes are counted."

"And nothing could be more 'suspicio[us]' or 'improp[er]' than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on Election Night," Kagan added. "To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process."

Slate's Mark Joseph Stern warned late Tuesday that "by deploying so many falsehoods in his 18-page opinion, Kavanaugh sent a signal to lower court judges: Uphold voter suppression at all costs, even if you have to ignore or contort the factual record to do it."

"Trump's dozens of hackish judicial nominees will hear this message loud and clear," Stern wrote. "At least one member of the Supreme Court is willing to construct a fantasy world that is utterly detached from our grim reality of mass disenfranchisement. If we cannot trust the justices to tell the truth now, why should we believe them if they decide the election next week?"

BRAND NEW STORIES
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.