More And More Americans Aren’t Religious. Why Are Democrats Ignoring These Voters?

“Democrats are mostly ignoring a massive group of voters who are becoming an increasingly crucial part of their base: people who don’t have any religion at all.”

“The unaffiliated are a key demographic for Democratic candidates in particular. More than one-third of the people who voted for Clinton in 2016 were religiously unaffiliated, making them just as electorally important for Democrats as white evangelical Protestants are for Republicans. Yet despite constantly hearing about the importance of white evangelical voters in an election cycle, Democratic politicians have been slow to embrace the growing number of nonreligious people who vote for them. Why?

In the past, the challenges of organizing the religiously unaffiliated have made it easy to understand why Democrats haven’t made a real effort to appeal to them more. As most don’t regularly gather like a church congregation, religiously unaffiliated Americans can be difficult to reach. A lack of institutional leadership also means there aren’t many prominent people or groups showing up to nudge politicians to pay attention to their issues. And despite rising tolerance for atheists and nonreligious people in American culture, overt appeals to the nonreligious still run the risk of turning off the majority of voters who are people of faith.”

“1 in every 4 Americans who are now religiously unaffiliated, including 40 percent of millennials. Meanwhile, there’s no sign that nonreligious Americans are returning to religion as they get older.”

“One reason we haven’t heard as much about religiously unaffiliated people is because they are often dismissed as less likely to vote, even as their share of the total population has grown. But that perception of nonreligious voters as less engaged could be increasingly wrong, as there are indications that the voting gap between secular and religious Americans has shrunk in recent elections.”

“there are ways to make appeals to secular voters that can also speak to religious Democrats — for example, emphasizing the importance of protecting religious minorities and nonreligious people through the separation of church and state, or focusing on science-based issues like climate change. That kind of big-tent strategy isn’t without risk, though. “The last thing Democrats want is to be portrayed as the godless party, because that would probably turn off a lot of voters,” Campbell said. But he added that Democrats may be missing a big political opportunity if they don’t start thinking about ways to engage with nonreligious voters as a group.”

How Asian Americans Are Thinking About The 2020 Election

“Asian American voters didn’t always lean Democratic. In 1992, less than a third of Asian Americans voted Democratic. But nowadays, most Asian Americans identify as Democrats, with more than half saying they plan to back Joe Biden and less than a third saying they’d vote for President Trump, according to the latest Asian American Voter Survey released this week.”

“The different groups that comprise Asian American voters are divided over how much — and whether — they will back Biden for president.1 For instance, Filipino Americans are more evenly divided among supporting Biden and Trump than Japanese Americans. And Indian Americans, who have been reliably Democratic for years, now show some signs of slowly shifting to the right. Finally, Vietnamese Americans lean pretty consistently Republican.”

“it’s important that we don’t read too much into one survey. Only about 250 respondents were in each subgroup, putting the margin of error at +/- 6 percentage points for each group.”

There’s No Such Thing As The ‘Latino Vote’

“One of the biggest factors in a Hispanic voter’s political identity is how long his or her family has been in the United States. For instance, foreign-born Latinos and the U.S.-born children of Latino immigrants tend to be more Democratic than Latinos whose families have been in the U.S. for at least three generations. According to Latino Decisions’s election-eve poll, first-generation Hispanic Americans1 were 12 percentage points more likely than third- or higher-generation Hispanic Americans to support Clinton in 2016 (84 percent vs. 72 percent), although both groups strongly supported her over Trump.

“Many Latino Americans can trace their family history to before the United States was the United States,” says Melissa Michelson, a professor at Menlo College who studies Latino politics. (Specifically, 32 percent of Latino registered voters are third generation or higher, according to Pew Research Center’s 2019 National Survey of Latinos.) “And they have a very different perspective from folks who are closer to the immigration experience.”

Gary Segura, a co-founder and senior partner at Latino Decisions, sees both economic and cultural factors at play. First, higher-generation Hispanic Americans are likelier to be higher income, which nudges them toward the Republican side of the aisle. But their Hispanic identity also tends to be weaker. For instance, a 2017 Pew report found that only about one-third of self-identified Hispanics whose families have been in the U.S. for at least three generations had parents who took them to Hispanic cultural celebrations or who spoke often about their heritage while growing up, and relatively few live in predominantly Hispanic or Latino neighborhoods. According to that Pew report, Latinos are more likely than white or Black people to marry people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds — which means that Latinos with deeper family roots in the U.S. are also more likely to be of mixed ancestry. Simply put, the longer a Hispanic family has lived in the U.S., the likelier they are to have assimilated — and vote more like white Americans, who lean toward the Republican Party.”

Last week was a disaster for voting rights in the courts

“If last week is any indication, the right to vote is unlikely to fare well in a judiciary that is increasingly dominated by Republicans: Voting rights cases out of Florida and Texas handed important victories to the GOP. At least one of those victories is likely to disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters altogether. (In Wisconsin, Democrats fared better this week in a ballot-printing case.)

The Florida case involves a longstanding dispute over individuals with felony convictions. In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment intended to restore felons’ voting rights. But the state’s Republican-controlled legislature almost immediately enacted legislation seeking to prevent most of these individuals from actually being able to vote.

On Friday, in a party-line vote on Jones v. Governor of Florida, the Republican-controlled United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit backed the state legislature’s play — effectively disenfranchising most of the people Floridians voted to reinfranchise.

One day earlier, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit handed down its decision in Texas Democratic Party v. Abbott. That case involves an unusual Texas law that allows voters over the age of 65 to obtain an absentee ballot upon request — thus avoid voting in-person in the middle of a pandemic — but prevents most younger voters from voting absentee.

This kind of age discrimination is highly dubious under the 26th Amendment, which provides that “the right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.” Nevertheless, a majority of the Fifth Circuit panel upheld Texas’s law in Texas Democratic Party.”

Obama accuses Trump of trying to “kneecap” the Postal Service

““What we’ve seen, in a way that is unique to modern political history, is a president who is explicit in trying to discourage people from voting,” Obama said on Cadence13’s Campaign HQ podcast in a discussion with his former campaign manager David Plouffe. “What we’ve never seen before is a president say, ‘I’m going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to [discourage] voting and I will be explicit about the reason I’m doing it.’”

“That’s sort of unheard of, right?” he added. “And we also have not had an election in the midst of a pandemic that is still deadly and killing a lot of people, and we still don’t know the long-term side effects of contracting the illness.”

Obama’s comments were a response to Trump’s admission on Thursday that he opposes providing additional funding for the Postal Service — which is under huge financial strain due to the coronavirus pandemic and unprepared for a massive influx of mail-in ballots — because he doesn’t want everyone to be able to vote by mail.”

The White House says USPS isn’t removing mail-sorting machines. Postal workers say it is.

“after being updated by a producer, Tapper fulfilled Meadows’s request: He cited Chris Bentley, president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 297, which covers Kansas and part of Missouri, who told CNN that postal management “has already taken out four machines in Kansas City, two machines in Springfield, Missouri, and one machine in Wichita, Kansas, that is earlier this year — under this new postmaster general.”

Meadows denied the claim that it was the result of the current postmaster general and said that it was an “already scheduled reallocation” and that there isn’t “a new initiative by this postmaster general.”

But reports from NBC News, CNN, and the Washington Post indicate that 671 machines are being taken offline under a new policy. NBC reports that, according to internal Postal Service documents it obtained, the new postmaster general appointed by Trump in May, Louis DeJoy, is responsible for the decommissioning initiative. And postal workers say the process of taking machines out of service under this initiative began in June.”

“Experts on voting behavior have said that before the pandemic, an estimated 25 percent of voters would’ve been expected to cast their ballots by mail; they now estimate that 60 percent or more will attempt to vote by mail because the pandemic is discouraging in-person voting.

If Meadows is claiming that a new machine removal initiative doesn’t exist when in fact it does, then his promise that new ones won’t be taken offline is, at best, questionable. How can the White House reverse a policy it claims doesn’t exist?”

“Meadows said that Trump is open to injecting emergency funds into the Postal Service if he can come to a fair deal with Democrats. But that contradicts Trump’s admission on Thursday that he opposes providing additional funding for the Postal Service because he doesn’t want everyone to be able to vote by mail.”

“Trump has persistently attempted to delegitimize the reliability of mail-in voting, describing it as acutely vulnerable to fraud — without presenting evidence and despite the consensus among voting rights experts that it’s secure when funded properly.”

How Trump’s mail voting sabotage could result in an election night nightmare

“Imagine this election night scenario: With a decisive number of mail ballots yet to be tallied, President Donald Trump enjoys a narrow lead over Joe Biden. But before all the votes can be counted — a process that could take days — Trump declares victory, citing purported irregularities with mail-in votes.

You can even picture Trump insisting that the preliminary election night tally must stand as final with a tweet that reads similarly to this one he posted in November 2018, when Florida’s US Senate and gubernatorial elections were still undecided: “The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!””

““You know, you could have a case where this election won’t be decided on the evening of November 3,” Trump told Axios’s Jonathan Swan in an interview that aired on HBO last week. Asked why that’s a problem — after all, there’s no rule that elections have to be decided on election night — Trump said, “lots of things will happen during that period of time; especially when you have tight margins, lots of things going to happen.”

Then, during a media availability on Sunday, Trump claimed that Democrats are using mail ballots to try and “steal an election.””

“”None of the five states that hold their elections primarily by mail has had any voter fraud scandals since making that change. As the New York Times editorial board notes, “states that use vote-by-mail have encountered essentially zero fraud: Oregon, the pioneer in this area, has sent out more than 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000, and has documented only about a dozen cases of proven fraud.” Rounded to the seventh decimal point, that’s 0.0000001 percent of all votes cast. An exhaustive investigative journalism analysis of all known voter fraud cases identified only 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud from 2000 to 2012. As election law professor Richard L. Hasen notes, during that period “literally billions of votes were cast.” While mail ballots are more susceptible to fraud than in-person voting, it is still more likely for an American to be struck by lightning than to commit mail voting fraud.””

“Trump has repeatedly cited episodes of attempted fraud on behalf of Republican Mark Harris in a North Carolina congressional race in 2018 and more recently in New Jersey as evidence there’s good reason to be worried. But as Berman explained to me, there’s an irony in Trump citing instances where attempted fraud was detected and ultimately unsuccessful.”

“According to Emerson College polling conducted late last month, a whopping 76 percent of voters who plan to vote by mail plan to vote for Joe Biden. By contrast, 65 percent of those planning to vote in person say they’ll vote for Trump.”

“A normal politician’s response to those numbers might be to work harder to appeal to voters who plan to vote by mail. Trump, however, is no normal politician.”

Trump Urges Floridians To Vote by Mail While Suing Over Remote Voting in Nevada

“After months of casting suspicion on the whole concept of mail-in voting, the president is suddenly behind it… for states where he has a stronghold. “In Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!” Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. “Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True,” the president opined on social media.

Meanwhile, his campaign is suing to stop the state of Nevada from expanding its mail-in voting protocol.”

“Nevada went for Clinton in 2016, and Florida went for Trump, so that might be one clue. The president has also criticized the prospect of expanding mail-in ballot access in California, a reliably blue state.”

For Native Americans, voting rights were hard-won. Mail-in voting could undo the gains.

“In 1924, the US Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act, granting citizenship for Native Americans. But the law left it up to the states to decide whether to grant Native Americans the right to vote, and it would take nearly four more decades for all states to do so; Utah was the last in 1962. When Native Americans started voting and running for office, white election officials were not always friendly.”

“Voting disenfranchisement for Native Americans has moved from the outright denial in the 1950s and 1960s, before the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, to other, more subtle ways that voting access has been made difficult. Before Montana’s satellite offices were set up, Fort Belknap tribal members said, they’d show up to their designated polling place to vote, only to find local election officials informing them they had to go elsewhere.”

“Problems have persisted. Attorneys told Vox that as recently as 2016, one local election official in Alaska kept more than 100 Native voters from being registered, refusing to send more than 25 registration applications per village because, the official said, they didn’t think the Native villagers would fill out the forms.
“When we called and asked about that, [the official] said [Native voters] really aren’t interested in voting, and if we send 150 registrations, we’re only going to get a handful of them back,” said Natalie Landreth, an Alaska-based staff attorney at the Native American Rights Fund. “We see that all over the place, these local, county-level decisions that will have huge impact on registrations, ballot access. A lot of those decisions aren’t set in statute.”

Native tribes have had some success to get the same basic rights afforded to other Americans, but these suits can drag on for years and drain tribes of their financial resources. Whereas tribes have to foot their bills, state and local governments have more resources through municipal insurance and aren’t on the hook for court fees.”

““Vote-by-mail is perfectly fine voter reform. It’s great as part of a package of voter-friendly reform to get more people access to the ballot,” said Claremont Graduate College researcher Joe Dietrich, who works on Schroedel’s team. “The problem starts to arise when you make [it] the only option to get people the ballot.””

“The problems related to mail-in voting are myriad for Native communities, advocates say. A lack of reliable mail access and a proliferation of nontraditional addresses on reservations, including those in North and South Dakota as well as the southwestern Navajo Nation, make home delivery impossible for many. For those with cars, simply visiting a post office to pick up and drop off a ballot can mean driving many miles on unpaved roads.

Mail-in ballots written in English are indecipherable to voters who don’t speak it, including older Navajo speakers, or Yupik speakers in Alaska’s Native villages who rely on translators at the polls. And if a voter is able to get a ballot and mail it in, there’s still the chance that a local election official could toss it because of something like missing information or a signature that doesn’t match the one on file. (Recent studies found that local election officials in Georgia and Florida were far more likely to reject ballots from minority and younger voters in the 2018 midterms.)”

A Texas Supreme Court decision could disenfranchise millions during the pandemic

“The overwhelming majority of states allow any lawful voter to obtain an absentee ballot without having to justify their request. Texas, by contrast, allows only a minority of voters to obtain one. One provision of state law allows elderly voters to vote absentee. Another permits absentee ballots if a voter will be away from their home county on Election Day. A third provides that “a qualified voter is eligible for early voting by mail if the voter has a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on Election Day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter’s health” — a requirement that, according to the state Supreme Court’s decision in Texas, applies only to people who are ill or disabled.

Civil rights groups and the state Democratic Party argued that this third provision should be broadly interpreted to allow anyone who could become infected with the coronavirus to vote absentee. The words “physical condition,” they argued, includes the physical condition of being susceptible to a deadly pandemic disease. In other words, during a pandemic that requires social distancing to control the spread of said disease, nearly everyone has a “physical condition” that should enable them to vote absentee.

In recent elections, older voters have tended to prefer Republican candidates over Democrats. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, objected to the broader interpretation of the law. At one point, his office even threatened to bring criminal prosecutions against any organization that encourages younger voters to request an absentee ballot. The state Supreme Court’s nine Republican justices ultimately sided with Paxton, although two of the nine did so for different reasons.

The court’s decision in Texas will not be the last word on whether younger Texans may vote absentee in November. In a separate Texas lawsuit, a federal trial judge ruled last week that the state cannot discriminate against younger voters. Among other things, he determined that the Texas law violates the 26th Amendment, which permits all otherwise eligible voters over the age of 18 to cast a ballot.

But the federal decision has been appealed to the notoriously conservative US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and may ultimately be heard by a US Supreme Court that is frequently hostile to claims of voter suppression. So it is far from clear that younger Texans will be allowed to vote absentee.”