Posted on November 03, 2016 in Countdown

Click here to subscribe to Countdown, AAI's weekly take on news from Washington, around the country, and abroad.


The Voting Has Begun

There is only 5 fast and furious days left until Tuesday, November 8th - Election Day! Even amidst the scandal, both candidates are zeroing in on the simplest message of the campaign season: turnout, turnout, turnout. Clinton's voter mobilization machine is already paying dividends for the embattled candidate, with early bird voters in swing(ish) states like Nevada and North Carolina are trending for Clinton as predicted. However, with some estimating that nearly one-fourth of all ballots have already been cast, there is reason for concern in the Clinton camp because that number is not nearly as high as they want it to be. Even more concerning for Clinton - and for American democracy - is how those low early voting numbers are correlating to some of Trump's "voter suppression" (or, "voter demoralization") strategies to keep people from casting their vote for Clinton. And for all the hoopla about the polls being rigged against Trump, the only reports from the polls so far are about Trump supporters hatching plots to intimidate voters. In fact, they're already being sued for it in at least four states and there's also one woman is sitting in jail because she tried to vote twice, for Trump. We'll remind you one more time that we've set up a one of a kind Yalla Vote Hotline with English and Arabic language services if you run into any problems or questions on Election Day. Yalla Vote!


Hillary Clinton's Campaign Swan Song

There haven’t been many easy moments for Hillary Clinton throughout her quest to become the first female President. From the unexpectedly close primary challenge from Senator Sanders to the email server scandal that just keeps getting worse. Clinton's bad media cycles are dogging her all the way to Election Day. Last week's bombshell announcement by FBI Director James Comey regarding more Clinton-connected emails was a shot to the gut of the Democratic strategy going into the home stretch. With the discovery of new emails and the tightening of national polls, Clinton might have a new reason to regret making such strong plays in long shot swing states like Arizona and Texas. Clinton's narrow 3-point lead over Trump has gotten too close for comfort for the campaign, and if you just take one quick look at the campaign's speaking schedule over the next few days you can almost feel the fear the campaign has concerning polling numbers in North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida. The path to 270 is still in Clinton's grasp - but this election season we've learned to expect the unexpected. 


Donald Trump May Have Finally Managed to Reign Himself (and new Voters) In

Tides might be turning in Donald Trump's favor at the exact right time. With 5 days to go, Trump is deploying a tactic made popular by Hillary Clinton earlier in the campaign season: and that's the "sit back and watch 'em self-destruct" strategy. Following FBI Director Comey's infamous letter to Congress about a disgraced former Congressman's emails (and Hillary Clinton's server), Trump finally got to stop crying wolf and start crying "I told you so." But Trump is also being helped by his new ability to stay on message, which he has managed to do thanks in part to his own very public reminders to himself. The Comey drama and the policy focus is paying off as the polls tighten in the states where Donald needs them to, including FloridaColorado, and New Hampshire. And it's no small thing that Trump has managed to mount a "Hail Mary" surge while allegations about his campaign's connections to Russia are gaining more veracity. But the FBI has chosen to only speak about one of the candidates' issue with the law this week, so the media is giving Trump a pass. While his path to 270 is still looking unlikely, Trump is certainly keeping it interesting in the final stretch.


NYPD Gets a Big New York "NO"

Speaking of bad police practices as we so often do these days, the NYPD's nefarious "Muslim mapping" project after 9/11 continues to stain the name of the country's largest, most expensive, and most renowned police department. The ongoing litigation between the NYPD and victims of the mapping project got served an unexpected twist this week when a New York judge rejected a negotiated settlement because, in the judges words, it did "not furnish sufficient protection from potential violations of the constitutional rights of those law-abiding Muslims and believers in Islam who live, move, and have their being in this city." The judge’s judgement smacked down the plan to have a civilian lawyer oversee the NYPD's counter-terrorism activities, saying that the NYPD has become "accustomed to disregarding" court orders and has a "systemic inclination" to violate constitutionally protected rights to free speech and religion. The judge’s decision reflects an alarming report by the NYPD's Inspector General back in August that echoed many of the same concerns. Now both sides of the court case will enter re-negotiations to find a settlement that will be acceptable to the judge. And the judge has made clear what he wants: he suggested that this civilian lawyer and overseer file confidential reports to the court on a quarterly basis, and that the position be a permanent one not up for elimination after 5 years as the settlement had stipulated. It's nice to see that reform is being taken seriously in the trend-setting police department of New York City when reform is desperately needed in less high profile municipalities across the country.


Standing with Standing Rock

The story playing out in the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota has finally managed to earn mainstream media coverage after four months of a media blackout. The battle of the Sioux tribe members against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline has caught fire on Facebook this week as the masses finally find a way (and a reason) to show solidarity with the Sioux. And while the online supporters might feel strongly about the alleged violation of the Sioux's ancestral lands and general bullish, unsympathetic machinery of the oil industry - the Facebook protest focused on another issue entirely: protecting the protestors from being silenced by surveillance. The rowdy activists protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near Sioux land and water sources have been subject to some heavy handed police tactics, including intrusive surveillance explicitly meant to "find out who is at [Standing Rock] in order to target them in attempts to disrupt" their activities. Indeed, the Standing Rock protests have finally struck a nerve with other communities and activists who can sympathize all too well with protesting historical injustices and being silenced for doing so.