Election Day will be a fiasco unless we act now. Like, right now.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

"All of our scenarios ended in both street-level violence and political impasse." — Rosa Brooks, the co-organizer of the Transition Integrity Project, a group of 80 former officials who modeled what might happen if the results of the Biden-Trump election are contested.  "The law is essentially … it's almost helpless against a president who's willing to ignore it." 

WHAT'S HAPPENING

Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images; Clancy Morgan/Business Insider

Congress and the White House aren't close to an emergency relief bill. Unemployment benefits expired on Friday, and Democrats and Republicans negotiated over the weekend, but they remain far apart. The president is considering taking some kind of unilateral action on unemployment benefits and eviction by declaring an emergency.

The wild fight over TikTok continues. After Trump talked to CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft is again considering buying the US arm of the company. Microsoft had backed away after Trump continued threatening to shut down the Chinese-owned company in the US. Trump's given Microsoft 45 days to complete the deal.

The Florida teen charged in the Twitter hack has a history of running Bitcoin and Minecraft scams. 17-year-old Graham Clark was suspected of being involved in an $856,000 crypto heist, but was never charged. 

Those mystery Chinese seeds are hibiscus, mint, and rosemary. The sinister seed packets that have transfixed the nation appear to be ordinary plants. They're almost certainly part of a "brushing" scam in which an online merchant tries to boost its reputation by sending unsolicited products to customers and then writing favorable reviews in their names.  

VIEWS OF THE DAY

Multiple presidential candidates want to make election day a national holidayShutterstock

Election Day will be a fiasco unless we act now. 

It's becoming clearer every day that the mechanics of the election could go horribly wrong. 

  • The USPS, under a new Trump-allied boss, is already delaying mail delivery in certain parts of the country, raising legitimate worry that mailed-in ballots could get waylaid until it's too late. 
  • Confusion over postmarks may disqualify mailed-in ballots. This already caused chaos in New York's primary election, and could create large-scale confusion during the general. 
  • Elderly poll workers anxious about COVID are shunning the job, leaving states without enough poll workers and without time to train new ones. 
  • The pandemic will require states to close or consolidate polling places, but they have only weeks to figure out how to do that, and direct voters to their new polling places. 
  • States are overwhelmed by the demand for mail-in ballots, and lack enough workers to process the ballots in a brisk way. In some states it may take weeks to open and count them all. 
  • Congress hasn't provided enough funding for states to manage the logistics of pandemic voting and widespread voting by mail. 

And I'm just getting started! 

Chinese or Russian hackers could be targeting our insecure electronic voting systems. Hundreds of thousands of voters have been purged from the rolls for various, largely ridiculous reasons, and there will be tumult when they try to vote. 

Meanwhile the President himself is overtly sabotaging the electoral process, ensuring that whatever the results are, a huge percentage of Americans will doubt them.

None of these problems is insurmountable, but the combination of pandemic, toxic partisanship, and Trump's meddling ensures that we won't fix them, at least by this Election Day. The challenge for American democracy in the long run is whether we can ever fix them. 

The American system has always been ugly and incomplete — excluding women, Black Americans, and others from the franchise, corrupted by vote-rigging and political machines — but most Americans trusted in it. 

If we let the voting problems fester too long, that trust will rot, and we'll be in even bigger trouble than we are now. — DP

Democrats should prove they can competently run the government, by running a competent election.

Actually, Plotz, the time to act was three months ago, when it was clear from Wisconsin's mess of a presidential primary (which also proved to be a COVID-spreading event) that we urgently needed a national effort toward making mail-in voting a reality. 

It sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud, but our presidential election is more like 57 separate elections. All the states, DC, and the US territories are in charge of allocating their electoral college electors. 

This unwieldy federalist system requires both a state and federal commitment to funding the infrastructure necessary to print, mail, and count millions of ballots. We already know how Trump feels about mail-in voting (when he and his vice president aren't mailing in their votes), so the states are on the hook to work it out themselves. 

They shouldn't shrink at the opportunity. 

A COVID outbreak could make polling worthless in blue states that haven't voted Republican since Reagan in 1984. If enough people stay home, weird things could happen — like Trump winning New York, for example. 

That's why the New York fiasco of which Plotz wrote is so disheartening. No state was hit harder and therefore, no state was more acutely aware of the need to get voting right. And yet for the primary, they failed.

New York Democrats have already squandered precious time to preserve election integrity and prove their philosophy that the government can be competently-run when they're in charge. 

City and state governments in other states should heed this warning and make all necessary preparations now to ensure sure mail-in ballots are available and clearly postmarked (so as not to confuse the post office).

Because if they don't, and every state's election is as big of a mess as New York's — it's all the ammunition Trump supporters will need to say "fake election!" —Anthony Fisher

Gen Z your hero is… Microsoft?

Microsoft now has 45 days to put together a deal to buy the US arm of TikTok, a popular social media platform owned by China's ByteDance. If it cannot do this, President Trump has threatened to shut down TikTok's US business over privacy concerns.

The fact that TikTok has two options – sell yourself or leave the United States – tells you that US-China policy has veered into a very aggressive lane in the last few weeks. 

In my column this weekend I wrote about how – now that Trump thinks China bashing will amp up his base before the election and has let go of trying to secure a trade deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping – he is trying to pack four years worth of hardline China policy into the next four months. So if it feels like all of this is happening fast, that's because it is. 

The China hardliners in the White House and GOP, like adviser Peter Navarro, have Trump's ear now. That's why he was prompted to take a draconian measure like shutting down an app beloved by millions of young Americans. He wants to punish China more than he wants to find solutions. 

Suddenly, when it comes to China, the self-named "king of deals" is saying things about the US like "we are not an M&A country."  (Since when?!!)

For China what's really dangerous about this moment is that Democrats and Republicans are unified in their distrust of its government. And that distrust runs even deeper when it comes to Chinese technology. In a Senate hearing last month the only difference between the two parties' stances on China had to do with strategy – as in, Trump doesn't really have one.

"There's a common theme in all our testimony," Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland said when he had his turn at the mic. "We all have five minutes and no one can list all their concerns [about China] in five minutes." 

That is why Democrats, like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, are supporting the TikTok sale. Now that Trump isn't even trying to keep a modicum of civility, Beijing is going to see how few friends it has left in Washington. —Linette Lopez

The comprehensive, appalling account of how the virus defeated us. 

The Atlantic's Ed Yong, one of the world's best science journalists, delivers the blow-by-blow of how the US botched the pandemic. You know all the pieces already — the poor preparation, the testing fiasco, the magical thinking, the divisive social media — but Yong assembles them into a tragic whole. And if we're this bumbling with coronavirus, a relatively mild threat, how will we tackle a deadlier disease or the slow-motion catastrophe of climate change? "It is now abundantly clear what happens when global disasters collide with historical negligence." — DP

This headline has literally everything in it. "Inspired by Steve Jobs' use of psychedelics to boost creativity, a sex-toy entrepreneur explains how he came up with his business idea while microdosing." Also the name of the business is "Emojibator."

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Check out this searchable Pitch Deck Library. Look through more than 150 decks that companies such as Uber, Postmates, and Airbnb used to raise millions. 

Another Ubisoft executive fired in sexual harassment scandal. Tommy Francois, the gaming giant's vice-president of editorial and creative services, is the latest to go following Insider's investigation of the company's toxic culture.  

LIFE

Douglas Smith

The Rock and his ex-wife/business partner bought the XFL. This is not an episode of Ballers. They and investment firm Redbird Capital paid $15 million for the defunct league, hours before it was going to be sold at a bankruptcy auction. 

Real-life Jack and the Beanstalk. A British man has grown a sunflower taller than his house, because his son asked him to.

THE BIG 3*

A boat with a person waving a Trump flag passes close to the Crew Dragon capsule after splashdown, August 2, 2020.Screenshot; NASA Live TV

Egypt invites Elon Musk to visit the pyramids. And see that they were not built by aliens. 

Boat flying Trump flag disrupts NASA feed of Crew Dragon landing. It's one of a number of boats that ignored NASA's warnings to stay away from the capsule. 

18 facts about Voldemort even Harry Potter superfans may not know. Such as, Harry Potter and Tom Riddle are distant cousins. 

*The most popular stories on Insider today.

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