Americans admire decisive action, but there aren’t many handed out for going off half-cocked. Tens of millions of Americans tuned in Thursday night to watch Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden match wits in their final showdown before the 2020 election but, counterintuitively, it may not much matter. That’s because tens of millions more have already pulled the trigger and made their selection for president. For all but those facing real health fears or schedule conflicts, the rush to vote early is a choice to vote ill-informed.
TV and device viewers witnessed the debate at Nashville’s Belmont University tightly refereed by NBC’s Kristen Welker who, backed by a censorious mute button, kept the candidates more closely pinned to her pre-selected topics that included fighting COVID-19, challenges to American families and the state of race in America.
The irrepressible president, though, still made certain the plague-limited audience caught a bombshell that those snaking lines of early voters missed. A laptop purportedly belonging to Mr. Biden’s son Hunter has recently turned up containing emails, authenticated by business partner Tony Bobulinski, that purportedly detail influence-peddling schemes capitalizing on his father’s high office: The kind of things you’ve done and the kind of monies your family has taken and it’s all through you, Joe, and they say you get some of it. And you do live very well — you have houses all over the place.”
For his part, Mr. Biden hammered home his most potent appeal to voters, claiming his rival’s ineffective response to the coronavirus has led to fatalities topping 220,000: “If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this: Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.”
Early voters have had months to consider the candidates’ stock positions on the virus, the economy and race relations, but the more than 50 million early voters have missed their chance to weigh the fresh Hunter factor.
In this year of the blindside, the pandemic has altered normal life in uncountable ways, including preparations for a presidential election. Nearly all of the 50 states have measures in place that allow vulnerable Americans fearing polling-place virus exposure to either mail in their ballots or vote in person prior to Election Day. A handful of states have opened voting more than a month before Nov. 3, including Minnesota, which started accepting ballots 46 days prior to Election Day and 34 days before Thursday’s hard-edged presidential debate.
Originally a convenience for busy workers, early voting has been first transformed into a necessity for those vulnerable to the coronavirus. It has since morphed into a trendy competition by legions of Americans uninterested in a complete accounting of the candidates. For those who vote blind rather than informed, the question of whether late-breaking revelations would have altered their choice for president will, sadly, never be known.
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