As was first reported here on Saturday, Amazon is seeking reconsideration of a ruling by an NLRB Hearing Officer that 6000 workers at an Amazon facility in Alabama will be allowed eight weeks time to vote by mail on whether to unionize the workforce. Amazon — owned by Jeff Bezos, also the owner of the Washington Post — opposes the use of mail-in only balloting in the union election on the basis that — quoting an Amazon spokesperson — “… the best approach to a valid, fair and successful election is one that is conducted manually, in-person….”
The scheduled vote is no small matter to Amazon. None of Amazon’s facilities anywhere in the country has a unionized workforce. The vote in Alabama is the first unionization effort in the United States by Amazon workers in seven years. Amazon has staunchly opposed unions at its US facilities and has hired Morgan Lewis & Bockius, a top anti-union law firm used to successfully defeated a union representation effort by maintenance and repair technicians at a Delaware warehouse in 2014.
But, a case of serious schadenfreude arose yesterday when conservatives on Twitter began to circulate messages calling out Bezos — and by implication, the Washington Post — for asserting the very position that supporters of President Trump made repeatedly both before and after the Nov. 3 election, i.e., that in-person manual voting on paper-marked ballots is the most secure method for conducting an election, while mail-in balloting presents issues with regard to ballot integrity.
Jack Posobiec, with 1.1 million followers on Twitter, sent out the following Tweet, and shortly thereafter Twitter had attached the warning to it that you see below.
The owner of the Washington Post has officially stated that mail-in ballot elections have serious and systemic flaws
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) January 24, 2021
Because of this warning, it was not possible to simply “Retweet” the message. When I attempted to do so, the only option I was given was the “Retweet With Comment”. Apparently, Jeff Bezos and Amazon are inciting violence among … Twitter users?… by asserting to the NLRB that, as an employer, it believes in-person casting of ballots in union elections is preferable to mail-in balloting.
My recollection is that Twitter first employed this tactic with regard to Tweets involving the allegations made about Hunter Biden in the New York Post story concerning materials found on the laptop he left at a computer repair shop in Delaware. Twitter’s goal was to limit the circulation of Tweets with that information by making users go through multiple steps to push the information to their own followers.
Twitter employed the same tactic in the aftermath of the Nov. 3 election with Tweets that made claims about election fraud in any one of a variety of states which were disputed between the two sides in the weeks following Nov. 3.
Twitter’s warning banner on Pososbiec’s Tweet — and likely on any others attempting to distribute the claim in the manner Posobiec did, had the same limitations attached for the same purpose.
But this wasn’t a claim about the Presidential election or the processes employed by many states to greatly expand the use of “mail-in” voting in 2020. Pososbiec’s Tweet simply repeated the argument made by Amazon in opposing a ruling by the NLRB that “mail-in” voting would be the exclusive means for conducting the unionization vote in Alabama that is set to begin in three weeks.
Twitter has now made itself the arbiter not only of what claims related to the Nov. 3 election are “disputed”, the promotion of which might increase the “risk of violence.” It has also decided on a “going forward” basis what debate it will allow unencumbered on its platform about the best way to conduct elections in the future, knowing that many conservative and GOP groups are going to promote efforts to roll-back the expansion of mail-in voting that was ostensibly justified by public health concerns about COVID. Will the coming debate over the expanded use of mail-in voting be subject to similar efforts by Twitter?
Presumably, we’ll see a Washington Post editorial soon challenging this action by Twitter to usurp the functions of the “public square” in this debate over democratic processes.
Maybe the Editorial Board, taking the lead from Amazon, will come out in opposition to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden’s proposal for nationwide “vote-by-mail” in Presidential elections. Weyden has been on this “hobby horse” for more than a decade, pointing out to all who will listen that Oregon has been voting by mail since 2000.
He never mentions that Oregon has become a one-party state during that same timeframe. Believe it or not, Oregon elected Republicans to statewide offices in the past 40 years — just none since 2002. That trend sort or runs parallel to the adoption of “vote by mail” in Oregon.