This is going to be a close election. It was always going to be close. Talk of a Biden “blowout” or a Trump “landslide” is just that — talk.
Since the election will come down to a few battleground states — or perhaps one or two — counting votes in those states will be critical. And the question of who gets to do the counting matters more in this election than in any other since the 2000 presidential contest.
Then, Republicans had the advantage in Florida with a GOP secretary of state. Katherine Harris followed the letter of the law in stopping the recount and the Supreme Court agreed. But most election legal experts think that Harris had some legal leeway in determining when to stop the recount.
As it turns out, a later study by a group of several leading newspapers found that, in most instances, Bush would have won even if disputed ballots had been counted.
But Harris’s actions in interpreting the law was decisive to a Bush victory.
Now, in 2020, the same scenario may present election counters with similar decisions. And in most battleground states, it means that Democrats will be making those decisions.
If the outcome of this November’s election comes down to fights over counting mail-in ballots and claims of fraud by President Donald Trump, Democrat Joe Biden may have a quiet advantage: The top election officials in many of the key states that could decide the election are Democrats.
In Michigan and Pennsylvania — two Democratic-leaning states Trump won in 2016 — the top elections officials belong to Biden’s party. That’s also true in Arizona, which Trump carried but Biden is now leading in the polls, and Minnesota, which the president has targeted.
Democrats are understandably confident that their secretaries of state will do whatever is necessary to assure a Democrat will win in a close contest.
“It will be all hands on deck, but defending election results will definitely start with secretaries of state as the chief election officer,” said Alex Padilla, a Democrat who was elected to serve as California’s secretary of state. “In my mind, it’s definitely good that we have secretaries in swing states committed to strengthening and defending the voting system.”
If you’re operating under the delusion that politics don’t matter, former Ohio Secretary of State Republican Kenneth Blackwell begs to differ.
“You can’t take politics out of politics,” said Blackwell, now a member of the Trump campaign’s board of advisers. “It’s the way our system is set up. I don’t all of a sudden become a non-Republican when I have to make a judgment associated with my job in the political sphere.”
In their eagerness to “count every vote,” Democrats are likely to keep counting and keep counting until Biden wins.
Something else to consider: Most Democratic secretaries of state were supported by George Soros’s’ Secretary of State Project, an organized effort to affect close elections that Soros and radicals like Tom Steyer have contributed to. With Democrats in charge in most battleground states, and the real possibility of many court challenges to ballots and how they’re being counted, the election may very well hinge on decisions made by radical Democrats whose views reflect those of Soros and the most radical elements of the Democratic Party.