John Oliver urged Americans to come up with a concrete voting plan after breaking down the ways President Donald Trump and other Republicans are trying to suppress votes or undermine confidence in the results. The Last Week Tonight episode aired Sunday, October 4th.
Much of the segment focused on the confusion Trump and his administration are trying to sow about vote-by-mail, as a large swath of the country prepares to send in their ballots as opposed to voting in person because of the pandemic. At last week’s debate, Trump offered up what Oliver described as a “12-course tasting menu of horse shit” when he spouted off wildly off-base claims of fraud tied to discarded absentee ballots and voters receiving more than one ballot. The real threat to vote-by-mail, Oliver continued, is far more mundane, but no less sinister: Having a ballot rejected for technical reasons.
The host noted that more than 558,000 ballots were rejected during this year’s primaries, and that mail-in ballots can be confusing when they come with additional items like secrecy envelopes and declaration envelopes. On top of following those instructions carefully, Oliver said people need to be vigilant about how they sign their ballots; many can be thrown out if the signatures don’t match those on voter registration or DMV records, even though though peoples’ handwriting changes frequently.
“Let’s be honest here, we all have at least two signatures,” Oliver joked. “The real one and your coffee shop signature, which is usually just a line and, depending on your mood, a couple of loop-the-loops — look you’re getting a muffin, what are you gonna do, calligraph the iPad? Of course not. It’s your pointer finger, it’s not your art finger.”
Oliver closed the segment by urging people to make a plan to vote, highlighting the website, CanIVote.org, which features state-by-state voting information. He also encouraged those voting in person to do so early if possible to make lines shorter on Election Day, and for those voting-by-mail to request, fill out and send back their ballots as quickly as possible while following all the necessary instructions.
“This election is already very different from all those before it, so we all need to be on top of not only our own voting plans, but making sure our friends and family are on top of theirs as well,” Oliver said. “Because I have to say, if your plan is to just sit back and expect the system to magically work itself out, and that [Trump] will have a three-quarter life crisis and suddenly turn into a good loser, I’m sorry to tell you, that is simply a bad idea.”