Fight to Vote: the final countdown to the election begins

Ankita Rao
·3-min read

Hi there Fight to Vote readers,

It’s the final countdown to election day, with less than a week to go.

The election is in full swing, so we thought it would be helpful to highlight some of the BIG battles and themes we’re looking at next week:

  • Voter intimidation: From the president’s promise of 50,000 poll watchers to online militia groups getting ready for election day, we’re on the watch for any attempts to pressure voters at the polls or incite violence thereafter.

  • Court drama: With legal fights raging over ballot counting deadlines, postmarks and other technicalities, we’ll be watching for last-minute decisions in state and federal courts that could shape the outcome of the election and leave voters without representation.

  • Historic turnout: As of Wednesday, more than 74 million Americans had voted early, either in person or by mail, surpassing 2016 numbers by more than 19 million, according to the US Elections Project. Experts are still expecting a huge surge of voters on election day but long lines and poor election infrastructure could get in their way.

  • Calling the results: The Guardian will be working closely with the Associated Press to call election results accurately, but it’s likely that politicians (not least of them Trump) will try to call elections before all the votes, especially mail-in ballots, are counted. Be sure to have a few reliable sources at hand next week to find out who wins.

  • Mail-in ballot counts: In an unprecedented year for mail-in ballots, we’re about to see if election officials were able to distribute and count these ballots in time, and accurately. This could change how Americans choose to vote in the future, and possibly expand access to some who have a hard time getting to the polls.

But it’s also helpful to note that so many of these issues started before 2020

Republicans restricting voting rights access have taken center stage in this election – from the governors limiting the number of mail-in ballot drop boxes to the groups filing lawsuits to limit the number of days votes can be counted.

But those efforts didn’t start this year. This week our reporters Sam Levine, Spenser Mestel and Open Secrets’ Anna Massoglia took a deeper look at three conservative lawyers – J Christian Adams, Hans von Spakovsky and Kris Kobach – who have spent much of their careers making the myth of voter fraud and election insecurity mainstream.

Their work, bankrolled by conservative donors, has helped set the stage for Trump to falsely claim Democrats are rigging the election by making it easier to vote or have votes counted. And while they peddle misinformation and skew statistics in their favor, they’ve done a lot of damage. Things like:

  • Suing small rural counties for allegedly bloated voter registration rolls

  • Helping craft strict voter ID laws that have disenfranchised minority voters

  • Creating a database of supposed voter fraud cases, with incorrect information

Ready to go?

We’ll be back next week with an analysis of the election results, and a specific focus on the voters who were left out of the political process. Those are voters like the men at San Quentin state prison in California, who ran a mock election in prison with help from the Guardian and Solitary Watch.

I highly recommend taking some time to read through their experience behind bars this year, and why they want to vote. You won’t regret it.