MOMENT OF TRUTH: IT’S ON
Polls are open in all US states and more than 100 million Americans have already cast pre-election day votes according to a survey of election officials by CNN, Edison Research, and Catalis. The survey also found that at least six states had already surpassed their 2016 total turnout figures.
Speaking to friends at Fox News, Donald Trump has again denied he will attempt to claim victory before final figures are clear. In the inconceivable scenario he is lying or attempts further legal action, Politico reports that Joe Biden — if and when declared the official winner — has a plan to address the country as president-elect (basically, the opposite of what Al Gore did in the contested 2000 election).
And in their latest shot at voter suppression, Republicans have asked a Pennsylvania court to stop alleged “pre-canvassing” of absentee ballots and to then stop contacting anyone whose mail-in ballot contains a perceived defect, so as to update the ballot. The party had previously failed to block mail-in ballots being counted in the swing state if they are received up to three days after election day.
PS: As Crikey explained yesterday, most major broadcasters are covering the election today from 11am AEDT and — keeping in mind postal and pre-poll votes will take days to count — national polls close at 4pm.
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SOMETHING OF INTEREST
As the ABC reports, the Reserve Bank has cut interest rates to a record low of 0.1%, confirmed it would buy $100 billion worth of government bonds to lift inflation and encourage lending and investment — a historic mechanism known as quantitative easing — and predicted unemployment is likely to peak at 8% and drop to 6% by the end of 2022.
The Conversation’s Peter Martin also explains that the board’s promise not to increase the new cash rate until “actual inflation” is sustainably within a 2-3% target range means that — with inflation set to come to 1% under Friday’s forecasts — “not only will it be as cheap as it has ever been to borrow (for a mortgage, a business, for anything) [but] there’s no risk of that suddenly changing because the bank gets rush of blood to the head”.
PS: In other financial news, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian exporters face a “$6 billion cliff” following unconfirmed instructions from Chinese customs authorities threatening to ban Australian wine, copper, barley, coal, sugar, timber and lobster from Friday.
MILITARISATION OF HOME AFFAIRS CONTINUES
According to the Herald Sun ($), more than 20 Australia Border Force officials were secretly given federal police powers to execute search warrants in response to migration, visa, trade, citizenship, and custom matters.
AFP sources reportedly slammed the move — which was conducted as part of a leaked secret Home Affairs ceremony for another multi-agency crime-fighting taskforce — as unnecessary and potentially unlawful, as the AFP Act only allows non-members to be sworn-in to assist the AFP, not to act alone.
PS: This is only the latest example of the militarisation of Australia’s immigration regime under Peter Dutton, who oversaw the creation of both ABF and Home Affairs, a plan in 2015 to randomly check people’s visas at taxi stands as part of the ABF’s botched “Operation Fortitude”, attempts to arm customs officials with stun guns, and more money spent on medals than defence in 2017.
THEIR CUP RUNNETH OVER
According to nine.com.au, seven horses have now died across the last eight Melbourne Cups after Anthony Van Dyck broke his leg on the run and was, shortly afterwards, euthanised.
The Guardian also notes that jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who finished second aboard Tiger Moth, received a $50,000 fine — one of the largest in Australian racing history — for breaching whipping rules. The RSPCA has since called for a review of industry practices.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one. It will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws. It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!
In yet another message hidden by Twitter for spreading misinformation, the US president claims allowing mail-in ballots sent before polls close but received up to three days later could somehow result in violence. Good thing no one has been, at best, tacitly encouraging hate groups and political violence since assuming the presidency.
“Well, it is the eve. Any commentary on the imminent US election is best done from one of the states. Luckily I’m in one — that being post-operative inflammation. So if the following reflections are a little more disorganised than usual, that’s probably appropriate to the event itself.
“The American state has lost its capacity to reproduce power in a stable manner over the course of eight years. The 2012 election, looked at in retrospect, was as formal and bounded as a game of chess, with some voter suppression and gerrymander that now seems trivial.”
“Red mirage: This could be significant and very worrying. Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to take coronavirus seriously and thus far more likely to avoid the crowds and vote by mail. It will take days or even weeks to tally these mail-in ballots. This means Donald Trump, thanks to Republicans doing almost all their voting in person, could hold big electoral college and popular vote leads on election night.
“This is the scenario Josh Mendelsohn — chief executive of Michael Bloomberg’s data group Hawkfish — calls the “red mirage”.”
“The Morrison government’s 363-page draft law to create a Commonwealth Integrity Commission (CIC) is finally out, almost a year after Attorney-General Christian Porter received it from his department. Must’ve been a lot of typos.
“Porter also announced there would be a leisurely six months of consultations on the bill, ostensibly because it’s all so hard, kicking the can so far down the road that it’s unlikely to turn into an actual law before the next election. One really gets a sense of urgency from the government on this.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Even if Joe Biden wins, it won’t be the end of America’s problems — Jim Malo (Junkee): “The United States is going through a reckoning. That it’s happening during a major election year should be a brilliant opportunity to forge a brave new path. But instead, as Joe Biden said, ‘nothing will fundamentally change’. The problems in the USA are almost too numerous to list. The entire country is plague-stricken and their healthcare is the most expensive in the world. A whopping 8 million Americans have been plunged into poverty by the coronavirus crisis.”
US election 2020: Today is a great test for the American democracy ($) — Paul Kelly (The Australian): “The historical meaning of the US 2020 election is whether this democratic opportunity promotes national healing and rebuilding the political centre or is another staging post in the long road of failure — deepening America’s internal decline and the political civil war pulling the country apart. The two great political traditions in America — liberalism and conservatism — are being trashed in a struggle of mutual hate and debasement.”
Aged care reform proposals are in: now for the hard part — Rachel Lane (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Lawyers assisting the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety have outlined 124 recommendations, including mandated staffing ratios, compulsory registration of workers and a new independent watchdog, in a major major shake-up for the aged-care sector. However, the proposed reforms, to be rolled out over the next five years, reveal a lot more about how broken our aged care system has become and what it is going to take to get us from what has been described as ‘a 2.5-star system’ to ‘a 5-star system’.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd will discuss “Murdoch, the media and the US election” in a Crikey Talks event with editor-in-chief Peter Fray and political editor Bernard Keane.The webinar starts at 6pm and will be available to all Crikey subscribers.