Politics How to prevent electoral violence at home
Electoral College has raised questions for centuries. Some have linked it to white supremacy
The US Electoral College will again determine who'll become President this year, as it has for more than two centuries of confusion and controversy. And Americans will once again ask why?In five US presidential elections -- including in 2016, when Donald Trump edged Hillary Clinton -- the eventual winner has lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College.
I have spent more than three decades covering conflict as either a journalist, State Department official or senior executive at the United States Institute of Peace. Global conflict does not scare me. But America in this election season does.
People are on edge. Voters are being texted, e-mailed, coaxed and cajoled. A pandemic has sickened and killed thousands, spreading viral particles and understandable fear and panic. Desperate people do desperate things, and my biggest concern is electoral violence - something I have always associated with overseas conflicts.
The battle to be the president of the swing states of America (opinion)
Robert Alexander writes that supporters of the Electoral College often contend that without it, presidential elections would be decided by the coasts, ignoring most of the country. Yet, most of the country is ignored in the current process. As Trump suggests, campaigns focus their attention on voters in a handful of swing states where the outcome is uncertain. Voters in these key "battleground" states are most heavily courted by the presidential campaigns. In 2016, 94% of all campaigning took place in just 12 states and two-thirds of the events took place in just six states.
Election-related violence affectswith the ferocity varying from a few incidents of intimidation and destruction of property to large-scale deaths and mass population displacements. It is why we often have international observers present at elections.
The notion of heavily armed extremists hell-bent on disrupting our democracy should keep all of us awake at night. Think about the notion of an FBI agent saying last week that some of those charged in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer"taking" Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. The disturbing allegations about politically motivated violence surfaced during a day-long court hearing over what law enforcement officials say was a plan to abduct Michigan's highest elected official and either leave her on a boat in the middle of a lake or put her "on trial" before a self-styled militia.
Why your House vote could decide who becomes president
If no presidential candidate receives 270 or more electoral votes, the 12th Amendment requires that the House choose the president.Against this backdrop, both campaigns are assembling legions of lawyers to press their cases on Election Day, during the ballot count and potential recounts and election contests. The Biden campaign has announced a national team that includes two former solicitors general, a former U.S. attorney general and a national law firm with experience in many recounts. The Trump campaign has hired a law firm with multiple former U.S. Supreme Court law clerks to counter them.
We cannot dismiss rumors of violence as just one-offs.by the non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations says that the problem is that we are not talking about a monolithic or even coherent movement but myriad national, state and local groups, cells, collectives and other entities with varying degrees of organization and cohesion. Many of them are heavily armed and espouse a spectrum of white-supremacist, anti-government, pro-Second-Amendment and anarchist views.
It is hard to put an exact number on supporters or groups, but some estimates suggest there are some 300 different militia groups, with perhaps as many as 15,000 to 20,000 well-armed and often military-trained members active in every state of the union.
So, what must be done to avoid a violent November election season and promote peace?
The first and most important step is for the president to call for calm, distance himself from all extremist groups and demand that voting places be safe and devoid of vigilantes or armed citizens.
Domestic violence's constant pattern and what needs to change
At least 5 million domestic violence acts occur annually to women over 18; another 3 million men are victims of domestic violence each year. Awareness cannot be limited to October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month or when news stories highlight celebrities discussing domestic violence experience.Domestic violence is deeply interwoven with other forms of violence. Traditionally, child abuse was considered a separate issue, but now it is accepted that child abuse and domestic violence are linked and strong predictors.Less recognized is the link between community violence and domestic violence.
In 2020, with gun violence at epidemic levels in the United States, the presence of armed individuals angered by false claims of voter fraud creates a real security risk and should be strongly discouraged.
The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a group started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), isthe dangers of guns on election night. Giffords and at least 17 others were shot in 2011 when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket where she was meeting with constituents. They have released a comprehensive state-by-state guide for election officials and workers to be ready to protect the right to vote from any potential acts of firearm intimidation.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are on the frontlines, sending out advisories and ensuring that incitement is neither promoted nor tolerated in advance of the election. Police departments and officers will ensure that polling places are peaceful, and that law and order is maintained.
Lastly, we need to clean up the information space where rumors and conspiracy theories are metastasizing. Social media giants are doing their part to spot and remove hateful content that might inspire violence. But we as individuals can do more to monitor tweets and posts and avoid the temptation to pass along bad information. A useful guide for how to both understand the threat environment and reduce hateful disinformation isproduced by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and American University.
This is a time for vigilance. It is a time to remind ourselves of our duty to protect our communities and our country from chaos. It may seem trite to say, but so much is at stake.
Tara D. Sonenshine is former U.S. under secretary of state for public diplomacy and is a fellow at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.
What’s the same and what’s different about the polls this time .
Biden has a much bigger lead, but state polling reliability is still dubious.It all sounds a bit too familiar to many liberals who remember the overconfident forecasts of a Clinton victory at this time in October 2016 — forecasts that only seemed to be reinforced by evident GOP infighting and a sense of foreboding doom in the Trump camp.