Why flawed election results should be accepted

Click to enlarge.

A new poll shows that a majority of American voters believe that fraud determined the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. This is astonishing.

For this to have happened, there had to have been a vast conspiracy, implicating, at a minimum, election officials in half a dozen states, state and local legislatures and governments, judges up to the Supreme Court, and the national press, news networks and social media.

They would all have to be complicit in stealing the presidential election while nonetheless allowing the Republican Party to gain House seats and state legislatures. The entire apparatus of the American government would be implicated in such a belief.

As improbable as all these seems, millions of hard-core Trump supporters believe it.

Of course it’s not as if Democrats would have accepted the results if Donald Trump had been re-elected.  After the 2016 election, some Hillary Clinton supporters tried to influence Electors pledged to Trump to vote for Clinton

I think that there are some voting irregularities in almost every election, and also some attempts by foreigners to influence the outcome of the election.  But the time to deal with these issues is before the election is held. 

Once votes are cast, it is too late because there is no way to know how the outcome would have been if the irregularities hadn’t taken place.  It is like asking the results of the baseball World Series be changed on the grounds that an umpire made bad calls.

The time to deal with voter suppression, voting fraud or election fraud is before the election.  The time to start fixing the system is the day after the previous election.

I thought Al Gore was the legitimate winner of the 2000 election.  But the courts ruled otherwise and I never thought George W. Bush should have been prevented from being sworn in..

In 2000, Democrats charged that Al Gore was cheated of his victory in the Presidential election by improper counting of ballots in Florida.  The Florida courts granted him a recount, but the recount was disrupted by Republican protesters and halted by a U.S. Supreme Court decision.  Gore then conceded victory to George W. Bush.

Although I accepted the Supreme Court’s authority to decide the issue, I thought at the time that the court decided wrongly.  I now think the Republican justices may have had a point. 

Their point was that the counties in Florida did not have a uniform system of counting votes.  Also, Gore did not ask for a recount in all counties, just the ones he lost.  So, the justices argued, unless there was a uniform system for recounting the votes, there was no assurance the recount would represent the Florida voters’ will any better than the original count did.

Another problem the 2000 Florida election was that a large number of voters, many of them black, were purged from voter rolls for bogus reasons. 

Felons were barred from voting in Florida, and many registered voters were purged without warning or further checking because their names matched the names of people in other states with felony convictions.  A large number of these voters had typically African-American names or lived in majority-black districts.

This was the beginning of two decades of systematic voter suppression by Republicans—which, strangely, was largely ignored by Democrats and the press, except in a few months preceding elections.  An investigative reporter named Greg Palast is one of the few who pursued this issue.

State legislatures gerrymandered congressional and state legislative districts so as to help Republicans.  Local election officials reduced the number of polling places in districts with large black and other minority populations. 

Voters were purged from voter rolls for bogus reasons, and a lot of purged voters had typically black, Hispanic or Muslim names.

Donald Trump, by making baseless claims of illegal voting, has maneuvered Democrats into defending a system that, in fact, is stacked against them.

Many districts employed touch-screen voting machines that are subject to undetectable tampering.  Palast and others have suspected for years that Republicans could be tampering with the machines.  Now Republicans accuse Democrats of doing the same thing. 

Either suspicion could be justified.  Maybe there’s room for agreement here that the touch-screen machines should be replaced with hand-counted or machine-scanned paper ballots.

Republicans see the possibility of fraud in mail-in ballots, which on average are used more by Democrats than Republicans.  Greg Palast does, too, although for different reasons.  He pointed out that there is no way to prevent or detect crooked election officials from discarding mail-in ballots based on the party registration of the voter.

I think there is more evidence of voter suppression, which favors Republicans, than there is of illegal voting, which would favor Democrats.  That’s not to say illegal voting doesn’t take place. 

A friend of mine who teaches a Pennsylvania state college said students have told her they voted twice—once in the college town and once in their home town. 

If true, double voting should be stopped.  But there’s no way to tell whether it determined the result or whether it was offset by some corrupt practice on the other side.

The way to assure elections that are fair, and are accepted as fair, is to have uniform voting standards that are accepted by both parties and in every state. 

It can be done.  California under the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger set up a nonpartisan system of apportioning legislative and congressional districts, which is generally accepted as fair.

The way to bring that about is to get a large enough vote for reform that the bias in the system can be overcome.

Mass protest is justified as a way to help open up the franchise and reform the system.  Mob violence to overturn an election already held is another matter.  A flawed process is better than mob rule.

A flawed process can be reformed.  Mob rule cannot.

LINKS

Democrats lavishly praising U.S. elections are overlooking a major weakness by James Kwak for the Washington Post.

QAnon and the Fragility of Truth by Nathan J. Robinson for Current Affairs.

A list of Trump campaign, Republican lawsuits challenging 2020 election by Jacob Shamsian and Sonam Sheth for Business Insider.

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I added a couple of sentences about 12 hours after making the original post.

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