Looking ahead to the general election, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is calling for extending the period for states to choose presidential electors.
Rubio is championing a bill “to extend the federal safe harbor period for states to determine electors from December 8, 2020 to January 1, 2021 for this year’s presidential election” insisting it “would give states the flexibility needed in a pandemic to help ensure each and every legal vote cast is counted.” Rubio’s proposal would also have electoral college members cast their votes on January 2, 2021 instead of December 14.
Pointing to hostile powers–namely China and Russia–Rubio warned about foreign interference in the upcoming election.
“We cannot escape the pandemic-induced reality of increased mail-in voting, and the logistical challenges associated with it will be difficult for some states to resolve in the next couple of months,” Rubio insisted. “We should give states the flexibility to provide local election officials additional time to count each and every vote by moving the federal safe harbor deadline for states from December 8 to January 1. … [I] urge my colleagues to join me in giving states more time to collect, verify, and count votes without fear of having the results challenged in Congress.
“We know with certainty that Russia, China, and other nations are actively exploiting our domestic political divisions and looking for opportunities to undermine confidence in our elections. Given our nation’s current challenges — a perfect storm of a global pandemic, public lockdowns, subsequent economic turmoil, and social unrest — these efforts could be like throwing a match on an oil slick,” Rubio added.
“But it gets worse,” he continued. “Local election officials in critical swing states like Pennsylvania, which saw a 17-fold increase in mail-in ballots for its June primary, are warning that, absent changes, ‘there is no way anybody can responsibly call the presidential race in November.’ …Beijing and other hostile foreign actors would throw their full weight behind a misinformation campaign, complete with falsified evidence, asserting that the results are rife with fraud and the election is in the process of being ‘stolen.’ They would use unassuming, but fake social media accounts to spread and magnify allegations that some mail-in ballots are being removed from the post office and destroyed, while others are falsified.
“Congress should immediately pass and President Trump should sign my bipartisan Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act,” Rubio insisted before calling for a “news media dedicated to truth and country instead of ratings … To emphasize the point: a free, independent press is vital to our democracy, but a media that prioritizes sensationalism and inflammatory content in a race for ratings, clicks, and retweets would be an unwitting partner as foreign adversaries attempt to push disinformation and undermine Americans’ confidence in our electoral system. We’ve seen it before.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee. So far, there is no version over in the U.S. House.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.