November 3, 2020-Renee Van Vechten, PhD., Professor of Political Science, University of Redlands-Meeting via Zoom

 Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Member/Alternates Only Meeting

Virtual meeting via ZOOM

Present:   Patti Arlt, Deborah Barmack, Peter Barmack, Carole Beswick, Mike Burrows, Mark Cloud, Ken Coate, Jennifer Cusack, Michelle Decker, Kevin Dyerly, Louis Goodwin, Otis Greer, Milford Harrison, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Bill Lemann, Dan Little, P.T. McEwen, Darcy McNaboe, John Mirau, Dan Murphy, Viki Ostermann, Bansree Parikh, Catherine Pritchett, Brian Reider, Thomas Rice, Michael Rivera, Dan Roberts, Dan Schenkel, Kristine Scott, Paul Shimoff, Phil Southard, Sol Teh, Pete Van Helden and Ray Wolfe.

Guests:  LaDonna DiCamillo, Sheriff John McMahon, Tom Nightingale and Todd Warden.

Announcements: 1) Former County Supervisor and Inland Action Member Jerry Eaves whose political legacy in San Bernardino County spanned nearly 30 years, died this week at his Palm Desert home after a brief battle with lymphoma. He was 81.  While serving as an assemblyman, Eaves’ AB 419 allowed for the redevelopment of the former George and Norton Air Force bases in Victorville and San Bernardino, respectively.  2)  Members are again encouraged to review and share the lists of available State appointments and commissions in order to assist the Inland Empire obtaining a stronger voice in the state.

Louis Goodwin, Chair, presiding.

Motion by R. Wolfe /Second by K. Dyerly/Passed:  Minutes from October 27, 2020.

Kevin Dyerly introduced Renee Van Vechten, PhD., Professor of Political Science at the University of Redlands who teaches courses on U.S. institutions, including Congress and the Presidency.  Professor Van Vechten discussed the 2020 Election Challenges, Threats, and Opportunities.  She shared insights on the unique issues associated with the 2020 election, ballot counting, and voter inclusion.

We have seen an unusual and extremely high turn out this election year with 100M votes cast from the 240M eligible voters as of yesterday.  Nationally, voters have cast 72.3% of the total votes counted in the 2016 general election.  Until now, the highest rate of voters in modern times was the 2008 general election but we have exceeded that by some 61.6%.  Younger voters are participating in record numbers and will break all prior voting records of their age group.

States with party registration data indicate that Democrats have shown a preference towards voting early by mail where Republicans are favoring in-person voting.

The disinformation we have been experiencing will not only continue but will likely increase; technology is making it easier for individuals to make realistic videos etc. spreading whatever information they choose.  The public is increasingly wary and suspicious, trying to find what is true or not.

Voter intimidation has sharply risen this year.  Campaigns have been spreading disinformation and violence and sabotage have been reported.  Texas and other states have long lines at polling centers as they experience reduced access to ballot boxes and polling locations.

The voting system is safe and proven to be reliable.  Voter fraud, a felony, is extremely rare and the systems are designed to catch duplicate and phony ballots.  Signature matching is conducted by both machines and the human eye.  Ballot forms are difficult to reproduce and many states have initiated ballot tracking.  Issues with mail-in ballots are virtually nonexistent.

The voting rules and procedures are mandated by each state and county not the federal government.  The procedures vary widely from state to state.  California has addressed voting during the COVID-19 pandemic and made numerous accommodations, but many states have not.  California has:

  • No stamp needed for mail-in ballots
  • Vote Centers/ballot drop-off locations open 29 days prior to elections
  • Polls open for 4 days
  • Ballot tracking: “Where’s my Ballot?”
  • Time off from work (2 hours, no loss of pay)
  • Ballots accepted (if postmarked on or before 11/3) up to 17 days later (other states on average are 3 to 10)

Challenges in counting the votes include a reduced number of workers due to COVID-19 restrictions.  Only 9 states expect 98% of unofficial results by Wednesday.  Twenty-two states, including California, have post-election due dates for technical corrections called “curing” where voters are contacted to correct/cure a missing signature or date on their ballot.  Key battleground states have cure deadlines that are up to 9 days after the election.

All states offer voters a way to submit a ballot prior to election day.  Several states now automatically send all registered voters a ballot.  There are now more than a dozen states that no longer require an excuse/permission to cast an “absentee” aka vote by mail ballot.

Actual threats to our election include foreign interference that spreads misinformation/disinformation.  Older voting machines are vulnerable to hacking and due to USPS mail delays many ballots will not be delivered on time.   The delegitimization of our election process by leaders has created a real threat to public confidence and our democracy.

Litigation regarding the election is likely as the current President continues to use this as a strategy.  Results if uncertain or close in enough states will create court challenges that will focus on:

  • Arrival / timing / timeframe for counting of ballots
  • Signature matching
  • Damaged/legible or not
  • Completed (date, signatures missing?)

A Q & A period followed.
Meeting adjourned at 8:59 a.m.