06:07 GMT05 December 2020
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    As incumbent US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden cross swords in the heated fight for the Oval Office, the United States awaits key states as they count the last votes.

    As the 2020 presidential election has been named "historical" and "unprecedented" by many due to the unusually huge amount of mail-in ballots and the COVID-19 pandemic raging across the United States, American political analyst Don Debar elaborated on how the circumstances affect the outcome of the election and what the reasons could be behind the high Election Day turnout.

    Sputnik: Nevada has declared it will not announce the results of its vote count until Thursday at 9 a.m. PST. Should we expect delays in other states as well? How does this affect the outcome of the vote count?

    Don Debar: So we have the so-called swing states still in play with Wisconsin and Michigan. I believe North Carolina is still in play, Georgia, Pennsylvania, of course, with 20 electoral votes, Nevada and a path to 270, the magic number in the Electoral College still available to either Trump or Biden. We have for the first time, really, in the history of this huge number of outstanding ballots that they still don't know in some places how many there are.

    Normally, even when you have absentee ballots or other offsite ballots, you have a count still because they were requested from the Board of Elections and then the ballot was sent in response to a request. So if you have, say, a million people show up at the polls to vote and then you have a thousand ballot requests, you know that the total, the total ballots cast, are a million 1000. And if you counted a half a million, you know, the remainder is, you know, half a million, plus one thousand. They don't know that here because they sent out millions of ballots, almost like "Dear Occupant". They were not requested. It was almost like they dropped them out of an airplane onto the cities. And because of that we have no idea until they physically count them how many ballots there are. What that means is when you're looking at the count right now, I'd say Biden has a million votes here. And Trump has nine hundred thousand. If you have two hundred thousand outstanding ballots, then you know that the state is still in play.

    If you have two thousand ending ballots, you know, the state's not in play. The election is over there. They don't know how many ballots are in that pile over there, yet. And then that's a problem. So it's difficult to answer the other questions without knowing that.

    Sputnik: In Pennsylvania, where Biden was raised, Trump has a big lead  - over 11 points after 75% of the votes have been counted. What does this mean for the election and Trump’s campaign, taking into account that Trump has already taken such battleground states as Florida and North Carolina?

    Don Debar: And apparently, Texas, too, which became suddenly a battleground state with even more electors than Florida or North Carolina. You know, it seems to me likely that Trump is going to win. And honestly, given the fact that, you know, the uncertainty that exists at the moment is almost entirely the result of these new constructs that were added to the election, supposedly to deal with the COVID-19. But actually some of which were in the legislative process last year before there was a COVID-19. The context for this is that Trump wasn't supposed to win in 2016, according to everyone. And there was a huge institutional outcry that we still hear today - that's still heard from all of the intelligence agencies, from all of the media, from most of the vested bureaucracy across the board, whether inside the Pentagon or the FBI, the Justice Department, the State Department, everywhere - that Trump was essentially illegitimate, that Clinton was the rightful president. And we saw every effort on every level from Election Day forward to either block Trump from taking office or to remove him once he had taken office.

    So, you know, the same changes that were made to the election law practice in the United States for this election have to be considered in that context also. And now as we see them operate against Trump, we have to wonder, what is it really that we're looking at here?

    Sputnik: “We know that because of the unprecedented postal vote and early voting, the vote count will take some time,” Biden said. When do you think we will get the final result?

    Don Debar: That depends on the methodology that's applied. This election will either be settled according to the existing law, as provided for in the Constitution for the last, you know, since 1789, or whatever, or by the laws as they've been amended over the years. Or it will be settled some other way for the first time. In other words, you know, the latter - no matter what language you use to characterize it - means, essentially, a coup.

    A supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump holds a Cuban flag during the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in Miami, Florida, U.S., November 3, 2020
    © REUTERS / MARCO BELLO
    A supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump holds a Cuban flag during the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in Miami, Florida, U.S., November 3, 2020

    So there will either be, you know, an election result that is legitimate under the law, or there'll be a coup d'etat. We don't know which one there is yet. Both are possible, and there is, according to the existing process, the latest date that all of this has to be settled by is 6 January 2021, which is the date of the joint session of Congress when they ratify the vote taken in the Electoral College that has to take place by 14 December. And so there are deadlines to take place between now and then. Very quickly, the procedure they'll follow is that, between now and 14 December, they are going to assemble into each of the 50 state capitals, the electors that were chosen in the election yesterday. And, you know, the vote that took place over the last two weeks or so, any questions about what those numbers actually are, are raised. They have to be settled in time for the electors to actually meet on 14 December. If that hasn't happened, then there's going to be already some difficulties with following the legal procedure. On the outside when the legal procedure cannot be followed, then the law provides - first, the Constitution provides that the choice will be made in the House of Representatives.

    Now, the House of Representatives has 435 members right now, representing the 50 states. Each one represents a number of population. Each state gets a representative for a certain number of people. It's based on population.

    So if you have about 300 million people, about 435 members of the House, you could see that, you know, you're talking about three quarters of a million people roughly, per member of the House.

    They don't get that kind of representation when they have this vote. There will be 50 votes in the House of Representatives, one for each state. So looking at the electoral map, for example, Pennsylvania has 20 electors. That's because they have 18 members of the House of Representatives and two senators based on their population. Now you see Nevada has, whatever, six or something, that's based on their population? Also, each of those numbers that you see on that map represents the number of members of the House of Representative plus two, that each state has two Senators.

    Now, if you take a look at how that operates, each of those places that should have eighteen, twenty, twenty-three, fifteen members of the House, or Senators, will, instead, have only one. And so a state like Pennsylvania, that should have 20, as opposed to Nevada, that should have six, will each have one in one. And so the smaller states will be overrepresented and that will go to Trump.

    Biden's big numbers are New York, California, Massachusetts, the north, eastern and western states, the Pacific states, which are the high population, and Illinois. Rather than those having fifteen or twenty or twenty-five votes, like they do in the Electoral College, they only have one vote. So now the ball goes to Trump instead of Biden, under those circumstances.

    Sputnik: What are the chances that, because of the protracted results, the election results will be accepted in court?

    Don Debar: The issue is how to allocate the vote. I guess I have to explain this. We didn't have one election yesterday. We had 50. Each state conducted their own election. The law governing the selection of members of the electors - that law is state law. It varies from state to state. The practice in New York is different from the practice in Connecticut, is different from the practice in Nevada. And in some states, if I win the vote in New York, I get all of the electors, all of the New York members of the Electoral College. If I win in some other states, if I win 51 percent, I only get 51 percent of the electors rather than 100 percent.

    People line up at the Supervisor of Elections Office polling station as early voting begins in Pinellas County ahead of the election in Largo, Florida, U.S. October 21, 2020
    © REUTERS / Octavio Jones
    People line up at the Supervisor of Elections Office polling station as early voting begins in Pinellas County ahead of the election in Largo, Florida, U.S. October 21, 2020

    So in each case, the laws are different. And in each case, they're going to be litigated first in the state courts. "Am I entitled to all of these electors" And then, they get certified and presented to the Congress in joint session. And, you know, first to the archive, the federal archives. Then they go to the federal government, in other words. Now, suddenly these things are actionable in the federal court. And in addition to that, there are federal issues that can be raised in the state court litigation. There is a federal law, for example, equal protection under the law. That's a federal issue. If there's an equal protection question between the way I get treated in New York and you get treated in Nevada, the venue for settling that is federal court. So, you know, we might be looking at litigation in several or maybe 50 states and then ultimately the federal courts and then ultimately there the US Supreme Court, which if you look at the end game, if you were going to believe that whoever appointed the judges aren't going to be the favorite child of any decision coming out of their court - just, you know, you can pretty much set up the Supreme Court for this moment.

    Sputnik: According to some estimates, taking into account active early voting, a record number of voters - 150 million or more – have participated in the elections this year. What are the reasons for such an unprecedented turnout, in your opinion?

    Don Debar: There's a couple reasons. First reason -  I would say is opportunity. You know, all of these efforts that were made to increase the vote revolved around, you know, revolved around making it easier, you know, rather that people that have to go and stand in line. Yesterday, they had two weeks to go, sometimes stand in line, sometimes not. A lot of it was made very easy for people, including, as I mentioned, some places you didn't even have to ask for a ballot. They dropped one off at your house or several, you know, like a mass mailing. And then all you had to do was fill it out, drop in the mail or in a box somewhere in town. It was being made. It varies. The opportunities is one reason.

    Another reason is that there's been a massive public relations effort to get people to vote again since Trump was elected. There's been a media hysteria in the United States. I mean, literally, a media hysteria that has just been sort of like Hitler being appointed chancellor, just waiting for the enabling act to be passed. And that is the end of democracy in Western civilization. And everything's gonna go now. I mean, you've had people, editorials in The New York Times, directly saying that he's guilty of treason for meeting with President Putin and suggesting that he be removed from office and tried for treason.

    Books on the New York Times bestseller list that openly called for his assassination and which has been a unique experience motivating a good part of the electorate that would vote against him, you know, just normally, for being a Republican president, or whatever. Definitely, that vote was excited by this massive public relations effort.

    And then you have the absolute fear that's been struck in to everyone over this virus. The media, I don't know what the media is like elsewhere about it. I do suspect it's more calm and medical science based. OK. So here's how things are going today. That's what we should do to make sure we stay safe here. Oh my God. The numbers are going up again. The fear motivates people also. And they have made Trump's handling, quote unquote, of COVID-19 a primary campaign issue, as if somehow he is responsible for everybody getting sick.

    So I think those three things we're responsible for, for the motivation. All of that said, by the way, the turnout in the United States that we're talking about is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of about 55 percent, 60 percent, tops. So we're not talking about anything comparable to almost anywhere else in the world. In Russia, with turnout for presidential election is more like 80 percent. And the same, you know, in most of Europe and elsewhere. So, you know that it was excited by these factors that I mentioned, but it's not extremely unusual for the rest of the world. Generally, Americans have a lower turnout rate than the other so-called industrialized countries.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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