Friday, November 6, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He asked a rhetorical question about military votes, which was a mistake.

In his middle-of-the-night press conference yesterday, Trump flatly asserted that votes going against him were "illegal" and that he had already won the election. Today, aides scrambling to manage public opinion while they figure out how to break the news of his impending loss to him succeeded in keeping him away from cameras. But they couldn't keep him off Twitter—although the social media company continued to hide many of his tweets as disinformation.

One of the visible tweets, though, asked a question about military ballots in Georgia.

It's a reasonable question. Trump trails Biden by about 4,400 votes as of late Friday evening, and mailed military ballots—along with provisional ballots—could make up the difference. 

The answer is that there are no missing military ballots. In fact, it's not clear who if anyone other than Trump thinks there are. 

Military ballots sent from overseas tend to be counted late, because they arrive from farther away, but under Georgia law any such ballot postmarked by Election Day and received today must be counted.

Trump's entire legal strategy, in states where he is losing to Biden, has been to insist that only ballots counted on Election Day itself are "legal votes." No such law exists in any state, but by that logic, Trump would disqualify virtually all overseas military ballots.

Still, suppressing the military vote would probably have helped him. Trump is historically unpopular with American troops for a Republican, and pre-election polls showed him losing among active duty servicemembers to Biden.

Georgia's Secretary of State defended the state's election process against Trump's insinuations today. He is a Republican endorsed by Trump in 2018.

How is this a problem?

  • Conspiracy theories and social media posts don't invalidate the results of an election.
  • Votes choose the president, not the other way around.