The media is full of conjecture about “chaos” in the coming election arising out of the extensive use of mail-in ballots, the identification of electors, election day intimidation at the polls, and mischief on social media through false reports of fictitious election results.

The flames have been fanned by Trump. He claims, without evidence, that there will be extensive use of “fake” ballots that will lead to “massive fraud.”

Although five states have permitted voting exclusively by mail-in ballots for some time, no evidence of fraud has been adduced. Four additional states have required vote by mail for the 2020 election. (In all of these states voters may deliver their ballots to their boards of elections and do not have to use the post office so “mail-in” is not literal.)

In addition to (a) the mechanics of distributing ballots to voters and the subsequent delivery and counting of voter-returned ballots,  a matter engaging the concern of both sides, doubts and fears have arisen among Biden supporters about  (b) the procedures in the states for the selection of electors; (c) violence and intimidation at the polls; and (d) willful false statements about the election results on social media.

Let’s examine these issues.

Mail-in mechanics. The boards of elections around the country have bad reputations for incompetence and error. This is because they are inactive (except for wan attempts at planning) between elections, are underfunded, and run by people of limited ability.

Even if the secretaries of state of the states are competent, they are often saddled with local election officials who are not. There are exceptions.

The solution to the collection and tabulation of millions of ballots is the addition of thousands of temporary employees to serve as counters. In the atmosphere of unemployment and economic dislocation around the country, governors and legislatures must immediately institute a Marshall Plan for ballot tabulation.

Selection of electors.  This is covered by Article Two, Section 1, and the 21st and 23d amendments of the constitution. (The 23d amendment gave the District of Columbia three electors.)

There is no “electoral college” in the constitution, just electors.

Since voters in every state vote for the electors for the candidates and not directly for them, the fear is that electors will be selected for Trump in states with republican legislatures even if he lost the popular vote there.

While it is true that Article Two, Section 1 states that electors shall be appointed “in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct,” all states require selection of electors pledged to the winner of the popular vote.

In July of this year, the Supreme Court held that rogue electors in Washington and Colorado in 2016 could not vote for someone other than the popularly selected candidate.  The vote was unanimous. Justice Thomas wrote a concurring opinion. (Chiafalo v. Washington). Justice Sotomayor recused herself in the companion Colorado case because she knew the plaintiff. The vote was unanimous in that case as well.


The fear is that a drawn out count might convince the legislature that no one was popularly elected so it can select electors for one of the candidates as it sees fit.

Since the court decided the elector cases just this summer and because they essentially involve election integrity,  I do not believe that such a state legislature’s action would survive a Supreme Court challenge even if Judge Barrett becomes Justice Barrett.

Violence and intimidation. Elections are run by the states. Fortunately, most of the battleground states have democratic governors. These governors control  law enforcement. Thus, there is reason to believe that law and order will prevail at the polls.

Post-election manipulation on social media. The fear is that Twitter or Facebook will post a statement of, say, “The Federal Election Authority,” complete with the great seal of the United States, falsely averring who won and giving false statistics to prove it. I don’t think that the thousands employed by Facebook and Twitter to halt these frauds will be effective to do so.

I have a simple–if radical–suggestion. Both Facebook and Twitter should take down their sites on Election Day and until a valid result is ascertained. To those who say this violates the freedom of speech, I call to their attention that only states and the federal government can illegally abridge that right, not private companies such as Facebook and Twitter.

Temporarily taking down these services will cool down the malefactors. One prominent name comes to mind.

But not to worry. Fox will be around!