The Assault on Democracy

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Two longtime friends served as poll workers on Nov. 3. Both are about my age and thus by definition considered high-risk to COVID-19. Still, they felt it was their patriotic duty to assist voters in the Central Texas cities in which they live. I admire their willingness to volunteer. To be clear, they weren’t poll watchers for one party or another. They were there to direct and assist voters as they cast their ballots.

Across this country, people both paid and unpaid performed the arduous task of working this election, with the highest turnout in American history in sheer numbers, and the highest percentage of voters to turn out in 120 years. They worked through the night and in the days after the election. They are still working now, though the results are clear. Their mandate is to count every legally cast ballot, not just for president, of course, but for other statewide races, and down to the local level — county commissioners, justices of the peace and such. They do so in the midst of a raging pandemic, no less. Already, poll workers in five states have tested positive for COVID-19.

The notion that hard-working folks processing and tabulating ballots across the country are engaged in some type of conspiracy to steal an election from the short-timer occupant of the Oval Office is far-fetched and absurd. Not a single lawsuit brought by his lawyers has gained significant traction. The aspersions it casts on election officials and workers trying to do their jobs are shameful.

For some reason, some people have no problem accepting the results in the county in which they live but cast suspicion on ballots cast elsewhere. It certainly doesn’t help matters that Trump, 14 days after the election fired the administration’s top cybersecurity election official, went on Twitter to say, “there were massive improprieties and fraud — including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, ‘glitches’ in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more.”

Twitter quickly labeled his claims as “disputed.” You think?

To believe that in the states of Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada — the states that Trump lost, clinching Biden’s electoral win — a vast conspiracy succeeded in rigging an election, a conspiracy that would involve thousands of people willing to risk prison terms, is simply beyond rationality. The facts are that as of this writing Biden won:

  • Michigan by 155,629 votes.
  • Wisconsin by 20,608 votes.
  • Pennsylvania by 81,775 votes.
  • Arizona by 10,457 votes.
  • Georgia by 14,007 votes.

By comparison, in 2016, Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes; Wisconsin by 22,748 votes; and Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes. He won Arizona and Georgia as well. While there is proof Russia interfered in that election, there was really never any dispute Trump had won 306 electoral votes and the presidency. I was dismayed by his 2016 win but never doubted its legitimacy. I don’t know anyone who did. Hillary Clinton received nearly 3 million more votes nationwide, but the nearly 80,000 votes Trump won over Clinton in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania gave him the presidency. That is the same number of electoral votes that Biden won this year. In addition, Biden, as of this writing, garnered 5.9 million more votes nationwide than Trump. That hardly sounds like a stolen election.

To continue this charade damages our democracy, impugns those election workers in the disputed states, and further polarizes this nation. We have devolved into a nation where millions of citizens subscribe to whacky conspiracy theories, refuse to listen to science and wear masks amidst a pandemic that has killed a quarter-million Americans with no end in sight, and now believe an election was stolen.

I concede that election fraud occurs occasionally. A Gregg County commissioner (where I live) and three others were indicted recently on charges of vote harvesting and fraudulent use of mail ballots. That case has yet to be adjudicated. But to make the leap from that case, which involves a few hundred mail ballots in one precinct, to a multi-state effort to steal hundreds of thousands of votes is ludicrous. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University of Law last summer published a piece titled, “Debunking the Voter Fraud Myth” that examined claims of voting fraud going back a decade. It concluded that it is more likely that an American, “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.

This charade is likely to end soon, as states certify their poll results ahead of the members of the electoral college meeting on Dec. 14 to cast their votes. Trump’s shenanigans likely will continue at least for a time, besmirching the hard work done by folks all over the country to ensure we had a free and fair election. As for those who continue to hold Trump trains and rallies, claiming the election was stolen, to quote the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

The fact is that Donald Trump lost, and Joe Biden won.


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