“How a post-election crisis was manufactured in Pennsylvania”

Marshall Cohen for CNN:

It was the nightmare scenario everyone saw coming: a nail-biter presidential election that was too close to call on election night, with the entire world forced to patiently wait on slow results from Pennsylvania as it sifted through millions of mail-in ballots.

President Donald Trump held Florida and Ohio, which quickly reported their mail-in results on election night. By the next afternoon, Democratic nominee Joe Biden had flipped Michigan and Wisconsin. But for four arduous days, the outcome of the 2020 election lingered in purgatory.

All eyes fell on Pennsylvania, with millions of still-uncounted votes. The delay was largely caused by Republican state lawmakers who defied local officials and nonpartisan experts, and refused to let counties process mail ballots before Election Day, as is allowed in other states.So the election went into overtime. As the days crept by, Trump’s massive election night lead of 700,000 votes slowly disappeared as Pennsylvania’s 67 counties churned through their mail-in ballots, revealing a narrow win for Biden.

This predictable shift gave rise to a bevy of conspiracy theories, disinformation and baseless accusations of voter fraud, stoked chiefly by the President…

Rick Pildes, a CNN contributor who’s a law professor at New York University, recently wrote that the federalism at the heart of American elections has become more of a liability than a strength. He said federal voting legislation is needed to “adapt to the reality of the political culture within which we now exist,” which is a culture overrun by partisanship, distrust and disinformation.

At least two Republicans, Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Josh Hawley of Missouri, now say states should be allowed to process absentee ballots much earlier. Experts are hoping that with a Biden presidency and a likely GOP-run Senate, there could be room for compromise.

“We face a vicious cycle,” said Larry Diamond, a democracy expert at the conservative Hoover Institution. “We need to reform and improve our voting procedures precisely because distrust and disinformation are so rampant. But it’s hard to get agreement on these reforms because of the partisan polarization that distrust, disinformation and irresponsible politics are fomenting.”

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