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♪ ("LAST WEEK TONIGHT" THEME PLAYS) ♪
Moving on. Our main story tonight concerns the 2020 election,
among other things, the inspiration
for the single best voting PSA the world has ever seen.
Do you know who elects the DA?
But you don't wanna vote.
Can't make it rain if you locked up on some bullshit.
Wanna end cash bail?
Well, then vote for the sheriffs
and county officials that feel the same way you do.
But you talkin' about,
"Oh, they gon' pick who they pick, shawty."
Ferguson just elected their first Black mayor.
You know how that happened?
NARRATOR: For information on how and where to vote
as well as resources to find out who's running where you live,
go to getyourbootytothepoll.com.
♪ Get yo booty to the poll Get yo booty to the poll ♪
Excellent!
They hit prosecutors, cash bail, sheriffs,
and the importance of down-ballot races.
All subjects we've talked about on this show,
but they did it in less time and more entertainingly
while also providing a much better
"get out the vote" message than anyone currently working
for Joe Biden. I have no notes.
And even though Trump is currently in the hospital
with coronavirus and everything is up in the air right now,
we're taping this show on Saturday,
so who knows what things are like
whenever you're watching this.
We do need to talk about this election
because it's happening right now.
More than three million votes have already been cast,
and yet Trump and his supporters have engaged in
a deliberate campaign to undermine the process.
For months now, Trump has been questioning whether
he will even leave.
In general, not talking about November,
are you a good loser?
I'm not a good loser. I don't like to lose.
-I don't lose too often. -But are you gracious?
You don't know until you see. It depends.
I think mail-in voting is gonna rig the election.
I really do.
Are you suggesting that you might not accept
-the results of the election? -I have to see.
Yeah! He has to see, and by that, of course,
he means he has to see if he wins
because if he doesn't he'll refuse to accept the results.
Deep down, you know there is no scenario in which Trump loses
but decides the process was legit and then shows up
to Biden's house with a congratulatory ice cream cake.
That is just not going to happen.
And look, given the frequency with which one party has been
trying to destabilize this election.
We thought tonight it might be a good idea to take a look
at the ways they've tried to do that,
and even more importantly how we can help prevent that
from happening.
And first, let's acknowledge there's nothing new
in Republicans attempting to depress turnouts.
They've done it for years.
Sometimes with a veneer of fighting voter fraud
and tactics like strict voter ID laws
and aggressive purchase of voter rolls.
But sometimes, they've just said it out loud.
I don't want everybody to vote.
Elections are not won by a majority of people.
They never have been from the beginning of our country,
and they are not now.
As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections
quite clearly goes up as the voting populous goes down.
Now, that man is Paul Weyrich,
a founding father of modern conservatives
and the co-founder of right-wing groups like
The Heritage Foundation and The Moral Majority.
Although, I'm not sure you can really keep calling it a moral majority
when the philosophy
of one of your founders is immorally suppress
the majority of voters.
But the fact is that this year, the Trump campaign is
turbocharging efforts to mess with the vote.
For starts, the president has repeatedly instructed
his supporters to go to polling places
and monitor for instance of fraud.
Watch those ballots.
I don't like it.
You know, you have a democrat governor.
You have all these Democrats watching that stuff.
Be poll watchers when you go there.
Watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing they do.
Yeah. That's not good because he's not describing
official poll watchers there.
People whose role is to monitor elections so everyone is treated fairly.
He's essentially giving his supporters the greenlight
to walk into polling places
and start playing fucking ballot Batman.
And it's not like we haven't had problems with
aggressive poll watching in the past.
In 1981, the year after Weyrich spoke, the RNC formed
a fake National Ballot Security Task Force and hired
armed off-duty policemen to patrol largely
Black and Hispanic precincts in New Jersey,
where they prominently displayed revolvers and armbands
with the task force's name.
And just as a general rule, revolvers and armbands
at a polling site is never a great look,
considering that the literal definition
of an actual Nazi is someone with guns
and armbands who threatens the safety of the polls.
That incident caused such an outcry
the Democrats sued and the RNC entered
into a consent decree, pledging to stop such behavior
in the future which is great.
Unfortunately, a judge lifted that consent decree in 2018.
Because if there's one thing Republicans have done
over the last few years is regain the nation's trust.
And the thing is, even if Trump supporters
don't show up to harass voters, there are plenty of
other reasons in person voting could be tricky this year.
Thanks to the pandemic, many poll workers are choosing
to stay at home and many polling sites may be closed
which can cause real problems especially for
Latino and Black voters who already face
substantially longer wait times than white voters.
We've already seen the impact of fewer polling places
in this year's primaries.
Because watch this Georgia voter show you how long his line was.
Seven hours, 45 minutes and 13 seconds
it took for me to vote in Fulton County, Georgia.
As soon as I saw the line, I hit the stopwatch on my phone.
I spent the first couple hours listening to
the new Run the Jewels album and then I ended up listening to
the entire discography.
And then I started watching season eight of
Curb Your Enthusiasm and it's five hours.
It is one o'clock in the morning and somebody was like,
"Hey, y'all remember we came to vote yesterday, right?
Holy shit!
Can you imagine watching five hours
of streaming video on your phone,
while standing in line to vote?
You can't? Well what if each video
was less than 10 minutes at a time with commercials?
Still no? How about if you could watch
the show vertically or horizontally?
No again? Okay, sorry Quibi,
I guess it's official, you're a bad idea.
MAN: Bad idea!
Yep, I hate to break this to you two billion dollars in,
but you know what, who knows,
maybe one of your shows will be a hit.
You know, like the one about flipping houses
where grisly murders took place?
MAN: Bad idea!
Really? Aww, come on, stranger things have happened.
After all, HBO Max still exists,
-and they charge 14.99-- -MAN: Bad idea!
You know what? You're absolutely right,
you're completely right, I can't argue with that.
And when you take all of this together,
the long lines, the possibility of harassment,
and the looming threat of the pandemic,
it's frankly no wonder that around 40 percent
of Americans say they'll be voting by mail this year.
But that has actually opened up
a whole new front in republican's war
on democratic votes. And to understand why,
it helps to understand one key statistic...
The majority... (READS PROMPT)
While the majority of Biden supporters
say they'll vote by-mail.
So it's clearly very much in Trump's interest
to try and discredit voting by mail,
claiming it's rife with fraud.
Despite the fact, as studies and court cases
have repeatedly shown, it isn't.
And it's not just Trump claiming they're illegitimate.
Even Bill Barr, his attorney general
has joined in, saying shit like this.
When-- When state governments start adopting
these practices like mail-in ballots,
that open the floodgates of potential fraud,
then people's confidence in the outcome
of the election is gonna be undermined.
And that could take the country
to a very dark place if we lose confidence
in the outcomes of our elections.
Yeah, but you're the one undermining our confidence.
You're doing it right there.
And as for the notion that this could take
the country to a dark place, I don't know
if you've noticed but everything
within driving distance of Disneyland
is covered in smoke, there's a global pandemic
that just infected the president,
and you're on television in stupid Woody Allen glasses,
calling the legitimacy of our democracy into question.
We're in that "very dark place" already,
Billiam.
Trump himself has gone out of his way
to claim that all manner of ballot fraud
is already taking place. He even rattled off examples
during Tuesday's debate.
They're sending millions of ballots all over
the country. There's fraud,
they found them in creeks, they found some
with the name Trump-- Just happened to have
the name Trump just the other day
in a wastepaper basket. They're being sent
all over the place, they sent two
in a democrat area, they sent out 1,000 ballots
everybody got two ballots. This is going to be a fraud
like you've never seen.
Okay, I know that sounds like a lot,
but as you've probably already guessed,
that was a 12-course tasting menu of horseshit.
Because he is wildly misrepresenting
every single one of those cases.
First, on the "ballots in the creek" example.
He seems to be referring to reports
of a few absentee ballots in Wisconsin
being found in trays of mail that were found in a ditch.
But, you should know, the trays were full
of all sorts of mail, and state election officials
later clarified that they actually...
(READS PROMPT)
As for the "wastepaper basket" example,
that was an instance where a temp worker
who'd only worked at the county election office
for three days, mistakenly discarded
nine ballots. And when his bosses realized
what he'd done, they immediately reported it...
(READS PROMPT)
And just spare a quick thought for that temp there.
'Cause imagine if some stupid mistake you made
at work, ended up being held up
as evidence of a leftwing conspiracy
against the president.
Just imagine buying the wrong K-cups for the breakroom,
and next thing you know, Tucker Carlson is on TV,
screaming about how the radical left
is decaffeinating the suburbs.
And finally, as for those thousand extra ballots
he mentioned, that was a fuck up
where some voters in Fairfax County, Virginia,
were sent two mail-in ballots by mistake.
Which sounds bad, but the key thing
to understand there is that because ballots
are matched to individual voters,
the system is designed to prevent people voting twice.
You may have two ballots, but you can only cast one.
And look, mistakes are going to happen
in an election with over 100 million ballots.
They shouldn't, but they will.
And when they do, we should move fast
to correct them. But none of those examples
that Trump cited, all of which
have lit up rightwing media, appear to be part
of any scheme to steal votes.
And if they are, the scheme seems to be
horribly coordinated, totally nonsensical,
and extremely dumb. So the fact is,
that fears over mail-in ballot fraud
have been wildly overblown. And to the extent
there is any danger with them,
it's actually a far more mundane one.
And that's that you could end up having
your ballot rejected for technical reasons.
REPORTER: In the 2020 primaries, more than 550,000 ballots
were rejected in 30 states. Due to missing signatures,
missed deadlines, or signatures
that could not be verified.
Think about that. Over half a million ballots
were rejected in the primaries. That's practically
an entire Wyoming disappearing into thin air.
That is really bad. Unless of course
it's the actual Wyoming disappearing, in which case,
it really might be for the best.
It's a semi-arid sandbox filled with fluffy cows
and nothing. The most famous part of Wyoming
is the state trying to swallow itself up.
And the second most famous part is it spitting itself out again.
It's clear that even you don't like you, Wyoming.
And it's getting hard for the rest of us to watch.
And to be fair to voters, ballots can be tricky.
Some states have secrecy envelopes,
which you don't sign. Which you then have
to put inside a decoration envelope, which you do.
It can be confusing, so do make sure
that you read the instructions carefully.
And it's also surprisingly important
to think about the signature that you're using.
Because they match them against the one
that they have on record for you.
Either from when you registered to vote,
or the one you have on file at the DMV.
And replicating your own signature,
can be more difficult than you might expect.
As this handwriting expert explains.
REPORTER: Orsini says no two signatures
are identical, and vary over time.
Hand size and age and illness, medication,
the writing position they were in,
were they depressed? All of those kind of factors
come into play.
REPORTER: Look at these actual signatures
from former president, Richard Nixon,
over a six-year period.
It does not look like the same person.
Exactly. But it is,
it's the same signature.
Yeah. The truth is,
our signatures change over time.
And sometimes they change over the course
of a single day. 'Cause let's be honest here,
we all have at least two signatures.
The real one, and your coffee shop signature.
Which is usually just a line and depending on your mood
a couple of loop de loops. Look, you're getting a muffin,
what are you gonna do? Calligraph the iPad?
Of course not, it's your pointer finger.
It's not your art finger, it's for pointing.
And in theory, some states are supposed
to let you know if your ballot was disqualified,
but in practice, that doesn't always happen.
Just watch one California man
learn that it happened to him in 2018.
REPORTER 2: Tattoo artist Johnny Trevino loves to create.
JOHNNY TREVINO: You good to go?
REPORTER 2: Drawing on human skin.
JOHNNY: Look at how smooth it is too...
REPORTER 2: That's why Trevino says it came as a shock
when we showed him that the way he draws his signature
actually caused his ballot to be rejected
during the last major election in 2018.
The reason is no signature matched.
I wish I would have known this.
Does that frustrate you?
Yes, because I'm a tattoo artist,
and sometimes I write it beautiful,
and sometimes I just sign it quick.
And I bet you a lot of people do that.
Okay, that is unfortunate to find out,
although, I will say, "Sometimes I write it beautiful,
and sometimes I just sign it quick,"
is one of the last things you want to hear
from someone giving you a tattoo.
It's right up there with,
"You know, I'm more of a hands-free artist."
But look, let's say that none of what
I've talked about so far turns out to be a problem.
Everyone behaves themselves at polling places,
the lines aren't too long,
and nobody fucks up their mail-in ballots.
There is still one more potential wrinkle
in this election, and it happens after you voted.
Because mail-in ballots in particular
can take a long time to count.
Which does make sense, it's a logistical nightmare.
REPORTER 3: Before the count can begin,
a series of procedures needs to be followed.
Like, making sure the vote count from a particular precinct
matches up with the actual number of ballots received.
The city of Grand Rapids has issued
some 35,000 absentee ballots.
Just the simple process of opening that many envelopes,
that takes a long time.
Yeah, of course it does!
35,000 is a shit ton of envelopes,
and opening them is gonna take a long fucking time.
Which, by the way should probably be the official tagline
of every single awards show.
The Oscars, there are a shit ton of envelopes to open,
so it's gonna take a long fucking time.
Sunday, 8/7 Central on ABC.
And making it worse, in some key battleground states
like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,
they're not even allowed to begin processing mail-in ballots
until Election Day itself.
Which brings us to something very important,
because there is a natural vulnerability here
that the Trump campaign may be able to exploit
if we're not extremely careful. Remember, he may receive
a larger proportion of in-person votes,
and those will get counted faster
leading to a potential problem.
REPORTER 4: Election experts say
one possible election scenario is what is known
as the blue shift, with Trump ahead on election night,
and Biden pulling in front after election night
through mail-in ballots.
There is no such thing as election night results.
They're only partial results
and they always have been partial results.
Exactly.
Many votes are counted after election night.
And this year, the discrepancy in how people vote
could lead to a so-called blue shift,
which I know sounds like
a euphemism for a Smurf's bowel movement,
but it actually refers to the idea that since
more Biden supporters are voting by mail,
Democrats could initially be behind,
then pull ahead once all the mail ballots are counted.
And the concern is, that in that early stage,
the Trump campaign could declare victory
and claim any additional ballots are fraudulent.
He himself has tweeted that we "Must know election results
on the night of the election, not days, months,
or even years later," but here's the thing,
we don't need to know on the night at all.
Projecting winners on election night can be a bit like
summarizing Get Out when you've only seen the beginning.
Oh, it's about a young man who meets
his girlfriend's parents for the first time,
which is obviously nerve-racking.
But luckily, her parents seem like a couple of real sweeties,
so everything's cool.
Yeah, that is how it starts, but maybe
you should stop talking until you know the whole story.
And in an election with so many mail-in votes,
it may take significantly longer to get the final results
than it has in the past.
And the swing could be even more pronounced.
That is why election officials are so anxious
to reset our expectations.
The expectation is election night,
like most election nights, around midnight, one o'clock,
we know who the president is going to be,
and in 2020 that is simply not going to be the case.
The expectation should be that we will probably not know
the president of the United States
until mid to late November.
Yeah, if this election is close, we may not know for a while.
So it might actually help to stop thinking of it
as election night, and more as an election month,
which is a lot like when someone says
it's their birthday month, in that the very concept
makes every decent American want to vomit.
And this is going to take
an adjustment on everybody's part.
From individual voters, to TV networks
that are accustomed to going all out
and selling election night as an event,
to social media networks that could become
cesspools of misinformation.
So, they are a lot of places where Republicans might
be able to put their thumb on the scale of this election.
And if you think any of this is me being paranoid,
you should know it's already started.
In Wisconsin, Republican legislators threatened to sue
election officials for holding an early voting event
where 10,000 people cast ballots,
suggesting they might seek to have
all those votes invalidated.
Meanwhile in Texas, their governor has insisted
that drop off locations for absentee ballots be limited
to just one per county, whether it's Loving County
which has just 169 residents, or Harris County
which has more than four million.
Although that does track with Texas's famous slogan,
"Don't mess with Texas, unless you're directing them
to a single voting nexus, even while some of them
could be dangerously infectious."
That slogan honestly never made sense to me
until just now.
And this brings us to our final point.
What can we do to help the system run smoother?
Well, luckily there are steps you can take.
First, as an individual, make a plan to vote.
You can find information for your state
at canivote.org.
If you want to do it in person, on Election Day, that's great.
Although, we don't want everyone doing that,
because remember, with fewer polling places open this year,
that could lead to a Run the Jewels listening party
that nobody wants.
So, if your schedule is flexible enough,
and you live in a state where you can vote early,
you should do that especially to make the line
shorter on Election Day, for those who don't have that luxury.
Now, if you wanna vote by mail, that's great too.
But we should be trying to flatten the voting curve
to take the pressure off the system.
So, request your ballot as early as possible,
read all the instructions,
and send it back or drop it off
as soon as you filled it in.
Oh, and also, do be careful with your signature
unless you want some local news reporter to show up
two years from now and tell you that
your vote didn't count and throw your skills
as a tattoo artist into significant doubt.
And by the way, if you are still worried
about mailing your ballot in, it is worth knowing
46 states have some sort of ballot tracking so you can
be sure it was received and counted,
and you should absolutely use that resource if you can.
The really important thing to remember is,
this election is already very different
from all those before it.
So we all need to be on top of not only our own voting plans,
but making sure our friends and family
are on top of theirs as well.
Because, I have to say, if you plan is to just sit back
and expect the system to just magically work itself out,
and that this man will have a three-quarter life crisis
and suddenly turn into a good loser,
I'm sorry to tell you, that is simply a...
MAN: Bad idea!
It really is.