President Trump is still battling to expose possible voter fraud in the 2020 election and secure a second term.
As Revolver has repeatedly pointed out, Republican state legislators should be rallying behind the president, and pledging to appoint a pro-Trump slate of electors to the Electoral College if they are not adequately convinced the 2020 vote was fair and free of fraud.
Instead, state-level Republicans are doing nothing. Perhaps they are convinced that no fraud occurred. The truth, of course, is that America’s electoral system is a mess, and it is nearly impossible to detect or prevent competent fraud.
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Republicans only have themselves to blame for what happened in the 2020 election. And whether Trump succeeds or fails in his legal challenges over the 2020 election, the party has an obligation to make sure this mess never repeats.
For the past decade, Republicans have been handed victory after victory at the state level. The party has had undivided control of a majority of state legislatures after every single election since 2010. Entering this year, they controlled thirty. In the key 2020 swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, and Florida, they have controlled both houses of the state legislature for the entirety of the past decade. In every single one of those states, Republicans also controlled the governor’s mansion for at least four years. In Georgia, Arizona, Texas, and Florida, they had total control of the state government for the entire decade.
Power is useless when it isn’t used. Yet when it comes to elections, Republicans wasted their power, and allowed Democrats to create the situation the prevailed in 2020, the situation that may have let a presidential election be snatched away from them.
For years, Republican efforts to prevent voter fraud have focused narrowly on requiring voter ID. Meanwhile, Democrats seized upon the 2020 coronavirus to create a massive national mail-in and early voting system, all while stripping voter fraud protections to a bare minimum. Beyond any doubt, they will try to repeat this system in all elections to come, even after the coronavirus is long gone.
Fortunately for Republicans, they still did well in downballot races in 2020. They still control a large majority of state legislatures, and they have total government control in several key swing states. Republicans must use this power to make sure that the 2020 voting debacle is never repeated.
If Republicans are serious about stopping voter fraud, rather than just whining about it after elections don’t go their way, here’s what they must do:
1. Make absentee voting rare again.
Even before the arrival of coronavirus, absentee ballots were becoming more and more common as a means of voting in the United States. In 2016, 24 percent of all votes were cast by mail, and 41 percent were cast early.
America’s love affair with absentee ballots obscures the obvious truth: Such ballots blatantly invite fraud. Mail-in ballots can easily be requested by other people, filled out by other people, and submitted by other people. Paying for votes is illegal, and with normal voting this law is easy to enforce. With absentee voting, enforcement is impossible.
It’s for these exact reasons that mail votes are banned or sharply restricted by many other functional democracies. In France, postal voting has been banned since the 1970s for all except those living overseas. Finland also restrict mail-in votes to those outside the country. In Japan, voting by mail requires a doctor’s certification that one is disabled. A similar system was suspended in Poland this year due to the coronavirus, and leftists immediately screeched that the system would enable widespread fraud:
Aside from the legal difficulties, there are enormous logistical obstacles. Poland lacks experience with widespread postal voting. The postal service would have to safely and promptly deliver more than 30 million items in the middle of a pandemic, and the authorities would have to make sure that the return boxes where voters deposit their ballots are secure from tampering.
In the absence of sufficient oversight, this could open the door to fraud, such as the spoiling of ballots, as well as other problems, including family voting, where one member of a household delivers everyone’s votes, allowing them to pressure the others to vote a certain way. Already some ballot packages seemed to have disappeared, and ballots were seen strewn on a sidewalk in Warsaw, raising questions about the security of the vote and the capacity of the Polish Post to administer it. [Foreign Policy]
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What makes the situation any different in the United States? Nothing at all, except this: That the left has deduced that chaotic drawn-out mail voting benefits them while hurting its enemies.
To confirm that, one only has to go back 15 years, before Democrats recognized the potential advantages of mail voting for their side. In 2005, the Jimmy Carter-chaired Commission on Federal Election Reform warned that absentee ballots posed by far the biggest danger to America’s electoral integrity.
“Citizens who vote at home, at nursing homes, at the workplace, or in church are more susceptible to pressure, overt and subtle, or to intimidation,” the commission said in its report. “Vote buying schemes are far more difficult to detect when citizens vote by mail.”
This isn’t theoretical. In 1997, for instance, rampant absentee ballot fraud forced the Miami mayoral election to be rerun (and the original winner lost). In Texas, officials have repeatedly investigated mail voter fraud cases of varying severity.
Carter’s report was completely correct, and conservatives should take its findings to heart. There is no need to ban absentee voting. But it should be returned to how it was intended: As a means to vote for those unable to vote on Election Day. Absentee ballots should be restricted to those working overseas (such as soldiers), those working critical jobs on election day (like a 12-hour hospital shift), or those who are genuinely disabled (and no, ‘fibromyalgia’ and ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’ don’t count). They should not be available to everyone purely because they are more convenient. Ordinary people should be expected to vote, in person, at a polling place.
2. Get rid of electronic voting.
President Trump and his allies have mounted a fierce attack on Dominion Voting Systems, a company that sells voting machines and vote tabulating hardware. The company’s software, they say, may have been manipulated to shave votes from President Trump, or even transfer those votes to Joe Biden.
Every single election, there are cases of “computer glitches” being blamed for vote counting errors, some of them substantial. In Michigan this year, thousands of votes in Antrim County were mistakenly given to Biden instead of Trump after an incompetent (or corrupt) official failed to properly update election management software. 2,600 missing votes were just found in Georgia, supposedly after being forgotten on a voting machine’s memory card.
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Whether or not these mistakes and others like them reflect broader attempted fraud, a bigger question is worth asking: Why are any states relying on electronic voting software at all?
There is absolutely no need for voting to be a high-tech operation. All this technology does is introduce complexity while reducing the public’s confidence in what is happening. Vote counting machines can be hacked, programmed incorrectly, or simply malfunction. In all three cases, it is possible for this to happen without ever being detected.
In fact, several other countries have banned electronic voting, recognizing the risks it poses. In the Netherlands, leaders abolished electronic voting in favor of hand-counted paper ballots in order to make any concerns about election hacking a moot point:
Authorities in the Netherlands are to abandon electronic vote counting in favor of old fashioned methods following reports of foreign interference in other countries’ elections.
The country’s general election on March 15 will instead be all-paper and all-manual, Politico reported.
Electronic voting was banned in the country in 2007, but software has since been used to count votes electronically.
“I don’t want a shadow of doubt over the result in a political climate like the one we know today,” Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said. “I can imagine some party or professor somewhere will say there is a remaining risk that it was hacked… and that would keep haunting the election outcome.” [Newsweek]
The same practice prevails in the United Kingdom: Votes for Parliament are all cast by hand and counted by hand. Even though polls are open until 10 p.m. there, election officials have no difficulty counting almost every ballot by the following morning. Atrocities where localities take weeks or even a month to tally every vote are unheard of.
In Germany, the country’s chief constitutional court actually banned electronic voting systems after their widespread adoption, on the grounds that they made the voting process impossible to understand without specialist technical knowledge. A fair election, the court said, must be easy to understand even for ordinary citizens.
It’s time Americans followed the same principle. U.S. states should get rid of their voting machines and return to more old-fashioned methods. Ballots should be cast on paper, and they should be counted by hand with auditors on hand to prevent fraud. This system is easy to police, easy to understand, can easily be done quickly, and will enjoy the public’s trust.
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3. Count the vote immediately.
The single biggest reason that so many supporters of the president justifiably suspect fraud in the 2020 result is the ridiculously drawn-out nature of the vote counting itself. On Tuesday night, President Trump enjoyed massive, seemingly insurmountable leads in states like Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Those leads held up throughout election night, only to vanish as counting went on for many days. In Georgia and Pennsylvania, Joe Biden only took the lead on Friday, three days after the supposed “Election Day.”
There may be perfectly valid reasons that so many states needed days on end to count a few million pieces of paper. But none of those reasons sound convincing. To the average voter, drawn-out voting intuitively means only one thing: Somebody is trying to manufacture votes, and hide what they are doing.
Often, these slow tallies are deliberately encouraged by state law (or judicial rulings). In Pennsylvania, mail-in votes were allowed to arrive three days after Election Day, and be counted even if they lacked a postmark. In California, mail-in votes can arrive weeks later and still be counted.
This is a gross absurdity, and Republicans should fight to ban it everywhere they can. Voters casting mail-in ballots already have several weeks to make sure their vote is counted. It is perfectly fair to expect them to have their vote returned by the date of the election. If they cannot do that, their vote should not count.
A model already exists to do much of this. After the recount debacle in Florida in 2000, the state drastically overhauled its election processes.
In Florida, absentee ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. on election night, period, with no shenanigans about postmarks. The state requires a matching signature for mail-in ballots. Ballots that are returned earlier are opened and verified early before being stored securely, and critically, they are counted first, meaning they can never be used to play “catch-up” against a surprising election-night deficit. Florida had plenty of mail-in and early votes, but it still had no difficulty having ballots almost completely counted by midnight. That performance should be the norm everywhere.
Everywhere they can, Republicans should seek to imitate Florida’s performance on election night this year. Republicans should insist on a process where at least 99 percent of votes are entirely tallied within six hours of polls closing. The faster votes are counted, the harder it is to smuggle fraudulent ballots into the process, and the more likely the public itself is to regard the process as legitimate. Faster counting also limits fraud in another way: It requires more personnel, causing each individual person to handle fewer ballots and making a fraud operation require more participants.
The American people deserve a Republican Party who will fight to the bitter end against any and all fraud perpetrated against Trump and his supporters in the 2020 election. The American people also deserve Republican state governments that will do everything in their power to ensure that such a mess never happens again. It is no secret that the Democrats will do anything it takes to win, by hook or by crook. It is incumbent on Republicans to stop them. When the stakes are this high, incompetence and lack of preparation are complicity. Over 70 million patriots are watching the Republican response with eagle eyes.
Time to get smart or suffer the consequences.
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