Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Election Fraud

Via Althouse, the AP has done an encompassing investigation and found that the provably fraudulent votes were not numerous enough to change the election results in any state.  The AP has a leftish bias - we will return to that presently - but I suspect they are approximately correct. I think even if this was slanted that people recognise there is a limit to what you can overlook and pretend is fine.  Yet there are two issues here and always have been, and I believe conflating the two causes us to see the issue wrongly.

If there are mistakes, whether by incompetence or design, then those are a problem for elections in and of themselves. We should want to get things as clean as possible, and perhaps just as important, not have any appearance of chicanery or incompetence. People need to believe it's worth voting. So whatever the final total, there were clear appearances of error, and identified places where error or cheating could have occurred. Were these exaggerated by people who were certain that there must be widespread fraud who believed every rumor?  Sure. But there were things that even I shook my head at, thinking "this has to at least look better for the sake of our mutual sanity."

Whether Trump was robbed is a separate issue from whether things were done correctly.  He certainly conflated them, as did many of his supporters.  And opponents. Look at the AP article, which also focuses on the "does Trump look bad" aspect rather than dividing the two issues. That may be sexier, but it's not good reporting. (I don't want to make this messier than it has to be, but the issue above could itself legitimately be split into two, reality and appearance, but I don't think that is necessary here.)

Voter ID is an excellent example here.  Apparently Voter ID laws don't favor one party over the other in the total, even though conservatives are certain those would help them and liberals are convinced their voters will be cast out. So it may be mostly symbolic to insist on ID, but it is a symbolism I strongly approve of, whether it helps my side or not. It gives some reassurance that everyone is trying to do their best here.

For the vote totals there is the issue everyone seems to be most focused on,which is counting up the votes and seeing if Trump had the election stolen from him, was blowing smoke, or some of both.  The final count is all they see. I have problems with that. There are Type I and Type II errors - that is, denying someone their legitimate vote and giving someone an illegitimate vote are equally bad. Whenever we are filtering voters, we want to reduce both types of error. There are also no guarantees that votes that smell bad all went one way. Especially when it's just incompetence, who knows who will benefit? Also, what people believe - even very smart people who get paid lots of money to assist campaign strategy believe about which side a policy favors - may not be accurate. You could make good cases that both Republicans and Democrats have been adopting tactics they thought would work that have blown up in their faces, so why not voting as well? We take educated guesses that suspicious activity in highly Democratic districts likely favor Democrats, yet even at that, do they favor them 55-45 or 90-10? If 10,000 suspect votes are at issue, it doesn't mean "those 10,000 votes could have swayed the election" if the margin of victory was 8,000.  In fact it means it almost certainly didn't. Just because it might technically be enough votes doesn't mean there is any reality in which that actually happens. Incompetence is messy and cheating doesn't work as well as the cheaters hope.

I hoped that at least one state was shown to have been stolen (as Kerry stole Wisconsin) just to get everyone's attention to take election cleanness more seriously.  I think we got some improvement this time, but I'm not sure how much.

Moral: Everyone should live in NH or VT.


Christopher B said...

I've come to the conclusion that Stalin was right in the end. ID matters little unless you're also going to force most people to vote in person. Absentee and other types of voting outside of spaces where access to ballots can be controlled range from mere invitations to positively government-supported fraud (California has a program that allows voters to print ballots from an online form).

David Foster said...

There are really four separate levels to the question of whether this was a Free, Fair, and Legal election:

--Was the actual counting of the ballots, and the aggregation of those counts, correct?

--Were people able to cast their votes free from intimidation?

--Were the people who were allowed to vote legally qualified to do so, and were any changes made to qualifications and procedures (and there were quite a few) in accordance with legal requirements?

--Were people able to cast their votes free from intimidation?

--Was the media's information dissemination about the candidates and their positions sufficiently objective and accurate , such that people who don't live and breathe politics could reasonably understand the realities?

james said...

"Moral: Everyone should live in NH or VT." Is this an invitation to the Bostonians?

Gavin Longmuir said...

David Foster: "Were people able to cast their votes free from intimidation?"

Why do we even give credence to such nonsensical fear-mongering? The Usual Suspects (in which we can include the AP) want to create the impression that unfortunate Americans of African Heritage were huddled outside the polling station in the rain, afraid to enter because of those evil Republicans with their bull whips.

It does not happen!

Yes, there have been a few incidents where blacks with baseball bats have assembled outside polling stations to convince citizens to vote the right way. But those are rare, and should be dealt with through the normal processes of criminal law. (Of course, they are not -- but that is another story).

Gavin Longmuir said...

Let's also all agree that the woman writing this hit piece for the openly-biased AP is not trying to get to the truth, simply scribbling another anti-Trump piece -- probably in the hope of getting a government job in the Biden Press Office.

So only 475 votes were questionable in those precincts? Is that credible?

Stepping back, Biden supposedly got 18 Million more votes than Hillary! in 2016, 11 Million more votes than the sainted Obama in 2012. Given the near-total lack of enthusiasm for Biden, does that sound likely?

The solution is to adopt the same rules the US imposed for elections in Iraq -- vote in person, purple finger. The refusal of the Democrat Party to countenance genuine reforms to increase confidence in the integrity of voting is all the evidence we need that Democrats are abusing the system.

David Foster said...

Gavin...I was thinking more of the kinds of intimidation that are enabled by vote-by-mail and other forms of in-home voting. A 'helpful' community activist, or an aggressive family member, could easily apply pressure to someone voting at home, especially if the voter has opinions that differ from those expected in the 'community' of which he is a part.

Gavin Longmuir said...

David -- that is an excellent point. Casting a vote in the privacy of the voting booth is different from filling in a mail-in vote at the kitchen table with friends & family around.

It seems that the sensible solution is to go back to in-person voting on Election Day; and make Election Day a public holiday to reduce time pressures on voters. Yes, some people will unfortunately not be able to vote in person for a variety of reasons -- but no system is perfect, and avoiding the taint of possible electoral fraud makes in-person voting worthwhile.

Additionally, the names of all the persons who voted should be published on the internet; not their vote, simply the fact that they did vote. Sunshine is essential!

Grim said...

I think the AP has chosen a weird metric. How many votes could the US State Department prove Saddam stole? None, of course; they haven't access to the data to know. That isn't how the State Department makes those calls. They work off issues of plausibility, transparency, the presence of known bad practices, and whether efforts at election audits by independent parties are stymied by official acts.

This is an issue I've followed closely, having been an election monitor in two countries (Iraq and Egypt) with serious issues. My sense is that all of the contested states were stolen, and that the proof of it cannot be had from the ballots because ballots have been destroyed; that all the bad practices we'd criticize in Ukraine existed in, say, Arizona; and that the steadfast and illegal destruction of evidence and lies by the government in the face of audits and reviews further establishes the case.

Is that proof by the standard the AP chose to adopt? No; it can't be. But it establishes to my satisfaction that if this were a foreign election, we would say that cheating was endemic.

Not that it matters, since the election as a whole was conducted illegally and therefore unconstitutionally in the contested states. Whether they cheated or not is, in a large way, beside the point.

By the way, here in North Carolina a freedom of information act request was filed after the Secretary of State's office asked for contractors to remove the modems from our voting machines. That office has until now denied that the voting machines had modems, but they were forced to admit that they'd been lying, and that the machines were in fact capable of being connected to the internet, and they'd now like a contractor to change that.

This happens with every one of these efforts. The governments of these states lie constantly and steadfastly about this stuff. It's significantly more deceptive, though no less effective, than the Egyptian model of being perfectly upright about the voting process and just denying the political opposition the right to field a candidate. I have far more confidence in the quality of the Iraqi election I monitored than in any recent election in Georgia, whose problems I've been publishing about since 2018.

David Foster said...

"Additionally, the names of all the persons who voted should be published on the internet; not their vote, simply the fact that they did vote. Sunshine is essential!"

There's a start at doing this:

More at Jeff Carter's substack:

GraniteDad said...

Gavin, Trump got 11 million more votes than in 2016. Do you also view that as suspect?

David Foster said...

Also, here's a project being sponsored by the organization called True the Vote. It is an app to help clean up your local voter roles.

G. Poulin said...

Election fraud is always nearly impossible to prove. Which is why it is so popular in "democratic" countries. Election fraud has a long history in the U.S., going back at least to the Reconstruction period when virtually every election throughout the South was rigged in favor of the Republican Party. Or maybe Southerners suddenly got religion and just fell in love with the Party of Lincoln ---who can know for sure?

Jonathan said...

AVI: "So it may be mostly symbolic to insist on ID, but it is a symbolism I strongly approve of, whether it helps my side or not."

Sybolism is important. Most individuals' votes are not definitive, yet voting in the aggregate is definitive. It's a big problem if many people believe that their votes are not being counted or are being offset by fraudulent votes for opposing candidates.

The methods for holding honest elections are well known, uncomplicated and undisputed, which is why we implement them when we run elections in Iraq, El Salvador et al. Publicly audited voter-registration lists, voter ID, in-person voting on one day, paper ballots and, perhaps, purple fingers would cover it. The likelihood that the political parties, govt bureaucracies and media would oppose such measures implies that they benefit from and want to promote voting fraud.

Gavin Longmuir said...

Granite Dad: "Trump got 11 million more votes than in 2016. Do you also view that as suspect?"

No, for obvious reasons.

First, there is precedent for an immensely popular effective President getting a large boost in votes between the first & second election. President Ronald Reagan got 10 Million more votes in 1984 than in 1980, back when the United States still had some credibility. (Contrast that with Obama, who dropped about 4 million votes between 2008 and 2012, despite constant media adulation).

Second, no serious person believes that Republican Party operatives are competent enough to engineer fraudulent voting on this scale.

Third, the behavior of Democrats demonstrates that they were complicit in electoral fraud, or that they are deeply suspicious other members of their Party were committing fraud. Biden ought to be the first person to demand full open investigations to demonstrate that he did in fact win the election fair & square. But he is absent from the issue. And the rest of the Democrat Establishment (including their running dogs in the media) are doing everything they can to prevent the kind of investigation that would restore trust in the integrity of elections.

HMS Defiant said...

I think the evidence of outright fraud, deceit and criminal activities is overwhelming and yes it does reflect poorly on Democrat strongholds that this always seems to happen in them and them alone. I can accept some errors creep in but having voting machines set to turn every vote into a vote for the democrat is not an error or mistake. I think they catch less than 1% of these "errors" and report them. The rest just slide by the way the criminals intended them to.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I am convinced that Democrat fraud does indeed occur every four years, but I admit I can't supply hard evidence other than in a few places, and I don't think your assertion is sustainable. They are designed for fraudulently choosing among Democrats in the primaries, because that is where the money is, and are repurposed for state and federal elections with less success. They are purposed for precinct-level cash, which does not translate to the general. In Atlanta, probably the most notoriously corrupt city, the "wrong" candidate has won in the general a few times in the last two decades.

It is certainly not overwhelming evidence. I would love to report that it is. In particular, blaming the voting machines rather than the rules about mailing in misses the mark, to my mind. See David Foster's comment, which I think is the one that identifies where the most votes go bad, even if it is not the sexiest problem.

Mistinguett said...

You are using AP for a source. How cute!