Michael Anton Says He Does Not Know Who Truly Won The 2020 Election, But He’s ‘Moved On’

On November 6,2020, Michael Anton wrote:

No one will really know who won. Partisans on both sides will insist they do, but they won’t—not really . . .

But far more ominously, one half the country—or to be more precise, the class that rules in the interests of (at most) half the country—will surmise that it can rule by fiat. The other half will conclude that they are subjects.

Whether that conclusion resigns the latter to apathy or stirs them to rebellion is the question that will determine the course of our politics going forward.

Feb. 23, 2021, Anton wrote: “As far as I’m concerned, the 2020 election is well and truly over. I have, I said, “moved on.””

So, from Michael Anton’s perspective, using his Flight 93 analogy from 2016, the terrorists now have control of the cockpit of America, and they have the intent of crashing the plane, but he’s “moved on.”

You can’t claim to be agnostic about whether or not the 2020 election was stolen and then claim to care about the United States and that you have “moved on” from the possible murder of your country. It’s akin to publishing books about the moral responsibilities of every citizen to fight crime, but when your son dies in troubling circumstances, you state that while you don’t know whether or not he was murdered, you have “moved on.”

If American democracy was subverted in 2020, you can’t move on if you are Michael Anton. That’s not an option.

He’s either lying or he’s a psychopath or both.

There’s nothing that the January 6, 2021 Capitol Hill rioters did that was inconsistent with the public rhetoric of Donald Trump and his enablers in the media such as Rush Limbaugh, Marc Levin, Glenn Beck, Dennis Prager, Dan Bongino, Angelo Codevilla and Michael Anton. Once you argue the 2020 election was possibly fraudulent, you are removing any moral constraints from the people who believe you. If the election was rigged, there should be no boundaries to your response, just as if abortion is murder, there should be no boundaries to your response to people who get and commit abortions.

Anton and Codevilla are smart enough to realize that Republic rhetoric about “voter fraud” is just rhetorical cover for pushing voter suppression.

On Feb. 19, 2021, Anton appeared on Andrew Sullivan’s podcast and said about the integrity of the 2020 election: “My position is one of epistemological humility or bewilderment. I see all kinds of things that look fishy and I’ve not really heard explanations and I detect an unwillingness to provide explanations and a hostility to anyone who asks questions. For myself, I don’t really know what happened in the 2020 election. I see an unwillingness to investigate it and a hostility to anyone who asks questions.”

One sign of a liar is that they use overly formal rhetoric. If you get a question about whether or not you accept the validity of the 2020 election results, and you say that your “position is one of epistemological humility”, the chances are that you are not being forthright.

There’s an unwillingness to investigate the validity of the 2020 election results? Look at the incentives. If you uncover evidence that the vote was rigged, you will be the man who’s found the great political story in the history of the United States and you will become famous, rich and honored. So just using common sense, it is obvious that if there is any chance at all the 2020 election was stolen, people have every incentive to investigate because the stakes are huge and the rewards are immense and if you find nothing or if you lie about it, there’s no crime in lying about non-existent voter fraud and apparently there’s little price to pay socially with the Republican base.

How can a man who’s worked hard to make himself a public intellectual stand behind such weak argumentation? Things look fishy and you haven’t heard explanations? My good man, have you looked? For everything that looks fishy, there have been long detailed accounts from mainstream sources about why this event was either not fishy or not terribly significant. I’m not a vote fraud expert, but every time I have looked at what dissidents consider fishy with the 2020 election results and then read the mainstream perspective, I find every single time that the mainstream perspective makes more sense. The evidence is so overwhelming I can’t take seriously anybody who denies this and I don’t intend to look to them for wisdom about anything in the future. At this point, those who deny the validity of the 2020 election results are either mentally unstable or mentally incompetent or morally irresponsible (they don’t want to stop grifting, so they tell their audience what they want to hear).

Imagine Anton’s friend asks him, “Do you know if my wife is cheating on me?” And Anton says, “I don’t know. I’m just concerned that anyone who asks whether or not your wife is cheating on you is regarded with hostility.” Of course there are circumstances where the mere asking of questions is regarded with hostility. That’s the case when the overwhelming evidence of the 2020 election is that it is a clean election. That has been obvious since November so somebody still peddling Anton’s nonsense is rightly regarded as a dangerous crank (dangerous because once a normal person thinks the election may have been stolen, they won’t feel any moral restraints in how they act).

There may well be a powerful case to make that the 2020 election was fraudulent, but Anton can’t be bothered to make one. He’s too lazy to research the topic. The accusations that he lodges against the integrity of the election are weak tea. If he had integrity, he would feel shame.

Anton wrote for the Claremont Review of Books Winter 2020-2021 issue:

Then came the election itself. Unsurprisingly, the “Red Mirage” did appear. But was it a mirage? There are reasons to doubt. (Perhaps the single-best summary of the irregularities is “Memorandum: How the 2020 Election Could Have Been Stolen,” by Claes Ryn, a professor of politics at the Catholic University of America, published online at the American Conservative.)

Vote counting seemed to be inexplicably halted in five states (Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin)—or, more precisely, in Democratic Party-controlled big cities in those states—late on election night as Trump was piling up seemingly insurmountable leads. There are numerous eyewitness reports of election officials in the affected precincts telling the Republican observers to go home, because no more counting would be done that night, only to resume counting as soon as said observers were out of sight. Then suddenly, when the count was made public again, Biden was ahead in all five states.

Officials “found” huge tranches of ballots that overwhelmingly—and in some cases exclusively—favored Biden. Sometimes the dead “voted,” along with other ineligible people (e.g., felons and people who had moved to other states). Meanwhile, registered voters showed up to vote in person only to be told that they had already voted absentee despite having never requested an absentee ballot. There are sworn affidavits alleging the back-dating of ballots; there are mail-in and absentee ballots which appeared without creases (so how did they get into their envelopes?); as well as thousands upon thousands of Biden ballots without a single choice marked for any down-ballot candidate.

Then there are the statistical anomalies. For instance, political scientist Patrick Basham reports in the Spectator that “[i]n Georgia, Biden overtook Trump with 89 percent of the votes counted. For the next 53 batches of votes counted, Biden led Trump by the same exact 50.05 to 49.95 percent margin in every single batch.” What are the chances of that? And that’s only one example.

Beyond the statistical, there are historical anomalies. Since the 19th century, not a single incumbent president who gained votes in his second run has lost. To the contrary, winners often shed votes. Barack Obama’s total, for instance, dropped by 3.5 million. President Trump’s rose by more than 11 million. Certain states and counties have long served as “bellwethers”: win them, and you win it all. President Trump won all the bellwether states and 18 of 19 bellwether counties. Successful incumbents tend to have “coattails”: they carry down-ballot officials from their party over the finish line. The Republicans gained 11 House seats, did not lose the Senate (at least not on election day) in a year when more than two thirds of defending incumbents were Republican, and cleaned up at the state level. Finally, primary voting has long been a leading indicator of the November outcome: dominate the primaries, win the general. No incumbent who received 75% or more of the total primary vote has ever lost re-election; President Trump got 94%.

No precedent lasts forever, and perhaps one or more of these really were broken in 2020. But all of them?

If these are his bases for doubting the validity of the 2020 election results, he is a pathetic thinker.

Political scientist Steven L. Taylor blogged Nov. 28, 2020:

A good example of the kind of faux-theorizing/questioning of data and electoral outcomes that inspired my previous post is a recent piece at The Federalist which Trump himself has touted on Twitter: 5 More Ways Joe Biden Magically Outperformed Election Norms. It is an example of a growing attempt to raise questions about Biden’s win by trying to appear data-driven. This is because I would argue, they have no actual evidence of malfeasance, so all they can do is the ever-popular raising of questions.

While I typically ignore The Federalist, the piece provides such an excellent run-down of nonsense and half-baked “analysis” that it is a good target for discussion. So, here are the five concerns laid out in the post.

1. 80 Million Votes

Holy moly! A lot of Americans turned out for a Washington politician who’s been in office for nearly 50 years. Consider this: no incumbent president in nearly a century and a half has gained votes in a re-election campaign and still lost.

I have dealt with that one already.

The short version is: populations grow over time, so more voters. Plus, higher turnout means more voters as well. Put it together and what do you get? Records predictably being broken in a wholly normal pattern.

Also: it isn’t hard to gain votes as the incumbent and lose when you won election the first time whilst losing the popular vote by almost 3 million. Between that fact and popular growth, it would be expected that his absolute vote total would increase.

2. Winning Despite Losing Most Bellwether Counties

Biden is set to become the first president in 60 years to lose the states of Ohio and Florida on his way to election. For a century, these states have consistently predicted the national outcome, and they have been considered roughly representative of the American melting pot as a whole. Despite national polling giving Biden a lead in both states, he lost Ohio by eight points and Florida by more than three.

[…]

Even more unbelievably, Biden is on his way to winning the White House after having lost almost every historic bellwether county across the country. 

This is the kind of thing that I suppose sounds smart to some, but the reality is that it isn’t. That certain locations have, over time, correlated with national outcomes doesn’t mean that they will continue to do so. Bellwether counties don’t cause national outcomes, they mirror them. Demographic shifts of various types can occur to change the alleged “bellwether” status of those states and counties.

Indeed, the whole notion of “bellwethers” is not especially helpful analytically and is more just the kinds of things that journalists like to glom onto every year. The fact that state X has voted for the winner for the last Y years is the kind of thing that is true up and until the moment that it no longer is.

And here’s more from BBC: US election results: Why the most accurate bellwether counties were wrong. The piece has some basic historical information on these counties and notes that increase partisan polarization and decreased split-ticket voting in a key component in the shift away from being bellwethers.

Experts say that while traditional bellwether counties are whiter and less educated than the national average, there’s no one element that unites them as political oracles.

“These counties, they’re not real representations of America,” says Mr Kreisberg of BlueLabs Analytics. “We call them bellwethers because there’s some fluke statistic, sometimes they are the right mix of different demographics. These are places that are demographically strong for Republicans in the abstract, but might have had something that kept them closer to 50-50.”

Whether or not these less diverse, industry-dependent communities can regain their bellwether status in four years’ time remains to be seen. As the country’s demographics shift and the rural-urban divide becomes more pronounced, the chances appear slim.

I would note the usage of the term “regain”–the fact is that bellwether counties are bellwether counties because they match the national outcome, not the other way around. And, hence, the reason they are not analytically useful.

3. Biden Trailed Clinton Except in a Select Few Cities

Patrick Basham, a pollster with an accurate track record and the director of the Democracy Institute in D.C., highlighted two observations made by fellow colleagues, polling guru Richard Baris of Big Data Poll and election analyst Robert Barnes. Baris noted a statistical oddity from 2020’s election returns: “Biden underperformed Hillary Clinton in every major metro area around the country, save for Milwaukee, Detroit, Atlanta and Philadelphia.”

That would be a really interesting fact, if was, you know, true and all.

Via USAT from about a week ago: Fact check: Joe Biden outperformed Hillary Clinton in most major metro areas.

Biden received significantly more votes than Clinton in most major metro areas.

USA TODAY aggregated official 2016 voting data and unofficial 2020 voting data from the country’s 10 largest cities — or the counties in which they’re located, if data by city was not available — plus Detroit, Milwaukee and Fulton County, where Atlanta is located. Biden received more votes than Clinton in 10 of those 13 locations. All data was aggregated Nov. 18.

According to unofficial counts, Biden outperformed Clinton in: 

Chicago by 19,613 votes,

Philadelphia by 20,150 votes

Milwaukee by 6,004 votes.

He also outperformed the 2016 presidential candidate in the counties that include: 

Houston (+210,279 votes)

San Antonio (+128,902 votes)

San Diego (+226,849 votes) 

Dallas (+137,496 votes)

San Jose (+103,574 votes)

Phoenix (+337,867 votes)

and Atlanta (+84,093 votes) are located, according to their unofficial counts.

The three cities where Biden appears to have underperformed Clinton are New YorkLos Angeles and Detroit, one of the cities in which the post lists Biden as allegedly overperforming.

And, of course, CA and especially NY are still counting. Indeed we can’t make these comparisons with certainty until all the votes are in and we can compare complete, certified results to complete., certified results. (One suspects that at least some of this kind of “analysis” has been based on incomplete returns).

4. Biden Won Despite Democrat Losses Everywhere Else

Randy DeSoto noted in The Western Journal that “Donald Trump was pretty much the only incumbent president in U.S. history to lose his re-election while his own party gained seats in the House of Representatives.” Now that’s a Biden miracle!

The sub-heading is misleading, as Democrats didn’t lose “everywhere else,” although, they did lose House seats. Historically, this is unusual. And, quite frankly it will not be possible to fully analyze exactly what happened until the final House votes are all tallied.

I would note that gerrymandering is part of this, as is the massive Democratic wins in the House in 2018 where Democrats overperformed in a number of races, meaning that taking them back in 2020 was likely. There is also the weird fact of Trump’s 2016 win being such a large popular vote/electoral vote inversion, which would influence patterns of this nature.

Let me quote number five in full:

5. Biden Overcame Trump’s Commanding Primary Vote

In the past, primary vote totals have been remarkably accurate in predicting general election winners. Political analyst David Chapman highlighted three historical facts before the election.

First, no incumbent who has received 75 percent of the total primary vote has lost re-election. Second, President Trump received 94 percent of the primary vote, which is the fourth highest of all time (higher than Dwight Eisenhower, Nixon, Clinton, or Obama). In fact, Trump is only one of five incumbents since 1912 to receive more than 90 percent of the primary vote.

Third, Trump set a record for most primary votes received by an incumbent when more than 18 million people turned out for him in 2020 (the previous record, held by Bill Clinton, was half that number). For Biden to prevail in the general election, despite Trump’s historic support in the primaries, turns a century’s worth of prior election data on its head.

Joe Biden achieved the impossible. It’s interesting that many more journalists aren’t pointing that out.

To which I can only say: none of that matters.

While it may be true that “no incumbent who has received 75 percent of the total primary vote has lost re-election” it is also true that since more incumbents win re-election than don’t, this stat is skewed. We are also talking about a very small universe of cases to begin with (not all presidential elections, historically, also had primaries) and the relevant universe is even smaller (the current system has only been in place since 1972, which is when primaries started to directly link up to nomination–so only 13 total cycles and only 4 of those were cases of incumbents winning). There simply isn’t enough data to find hard and fast patterns.

This is especially hilarious, “Trump is only one of five incumbents since 1912 to receive more than 90 percent of the primary vote” because the primaries in 1912 were not binding in any way and were only held in 13 states. Moreover, it was before women could vote. It is in no way a useful data point to compare to 2020. This is just a monumentally silly comparison.

The entire notion that the enthusiasm of the incumbent’s party during the nomination process (and/or the lack of significant challengers during the primary) is directly related to the national popular vote totals is, well, ridiculous.

In general this piece is an example of growing genre of “proof” that there is something fishy about Biden’s win, and therefore enough to conclude there was fraud. Trump and his allies are spouting it right and left at the moment. It is all nonsense masquerading as data analysis. And the costume is not well made.

Political scientist Steven L. Taylor blogged Nov. 29, 2020:

I am likely to drive myself crazy if I spend too much more time looking into the claims of what I suppose should be called “fraud truthers.” But, to go along with my posts yesterday, I have allowed myself to get sucked into looking at the claims of Patrick Basham at The Spectator: Reasons why the 2020 presidential election is deeply puzzling. I also looked at some of the loquacious meanderings of Roger Kimball at American Greatness.

None of this, nor some other side trips online and on social media yesterday, were especially impressive.

Overall this whole genre is of the “I’m just asking questions” type of thing, or “gee, isn’t this weird?” Although the real hallmark of all of it, which is the dangerous part, is that a lot of these pieces are based on a series of singular, unsubstantiated accusations/assertions that are then repeated as if they had foundation. I am seen several of these (like the 47 USB drives noted below) all over the place.

I use the “truther” label quite deliberately, as the logic (so to speak) being used in a lot (most? all?) of these essays sound an awful lot like 9/11 Truthers (or Birthers). After all, who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?

In 2001 it wasn’t enough that, you know, a massive passenger jet crashed into a building to explain why the building, you know, caught fire and fell down. And in 2020 it isn’t enough that largely normal voting procedures produced tallies and a winner.

This leads me to start with Kimball’s essay, which asserts:

The strongest argument for Biden’s victory is not the vote tally. It is the monolithic narrative, pumped up like one of those inflatable play castles at a child’s birthday party. With every passing day, that narrative becomes more boisterous, more assertive, more uncompromising. It is a collective primal scream, emitted with eyes shut and ears plugged.

Except, no, the strongest argument for Biden is very much the vote tally. And, indeed, the only reason that the “narrative” is that his victory is inevitable is because he won enough popular votes in the right states so as to lead to an electoral vote tally of 270+.

It really, truly, is that simple.

This is how every election plays out. We vote. We count. We color the maps. And then the narrative is that the person with the most electoral votes is going to be president.

Even in 2000, when there was much waiting and gnashing of teeth, that was the focus: count and tally.

Kimball’s overall “argument” comes across like basically classic “the media is against us” narratives (if I am may appropriate the term). You know, dastardly outlets like Fox News who called Arizona on election night, and whatnot.

His essay contains laments about press treatment of Trump and a disgression comparing a Kamala Harris tweet to Orwell before ranging into claims of “Huge anomalies” in “Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.” Such a statement continues to make me ponder: if such “huge” problems exist, why is it so bloody hard to find a way to coherently put them into a court pleading?

His examples include:

How is it possible that Joe Biden, who barely campaigned, garnered more votes in just those spots than even Barack Obama had done?

I would need to know what he was specifically referring to there in terms of “spots” but I will say that a lot of this Biden v. Obama discussion that I have seen has been either based on incorrect assertions or a result of simple population growth.

The whole “barely campaigned” bit is just silly. First, most voters know who they are going to vote for based on party, so don’t need campaigning to make up their minds. Second, most campaigning is done via television in any event. Third, a huge chunk of Democratic voters were motivated to oust Trump, meaning the specific message of the Democratic nominee was not the central motivator.

How is it possible that, as everyone was getting tucked into bed on the night of November 3, Donald Trump had notable leads in almost all of those states and then, suddenly, all at once, in the wee hours, floods of votes poured in and—wouldn’t you know it—they were overwhelmingly, sometimes exclusively, for Biden?

It is possible, primarily, because of the volume of mail-in ballots that needed to be processed, especially in states like PA wherein processing of those ballots could not start until election day. Indeed, the entire scenario was predicted and known well in advance: that the likely in-person vote would lean Republican and that the mail-in vote would lean Democratic. This was known for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that Trump himself discouraged mail-in voting.

Also: larger jurisdictions, like Philadelphia, are going to take longer to count than rural counties. So, on election night, it was more likely to have the Trump-leaning rural vote counted in places like AZ, GA, and PA and to have the Biden-leaning urban precincts take longer.

If you are going to write about elections, it is not unreasonable that you should understand these things

And what about those voting machines from Dominion: are we confident that they are secure? 

To which I can only say: what about them, indeed? To date all I have seen about said machines are wild, baseless assertions.

All of this sums to a whole lot of nothing.

Evidence, evidence, my kingdom for some evidence!

Meanwhile, let’s pivot to Basham, whose piece has the following subtitle: “If only cranks find the tabulations strange, put me down as a crank” and concludes with “If you think that only weirdos have legitimate concerns about these findings and claims, maybe the weirdness lies in you.”

Well, I have some bad news.

He starts:

To say out-loud that you find the results of the 2020 presidential election odd is to invite derision. You must be a crank or a conspiracy theorist. Mark me down as a crank, then. I am a pollster and I find this election to be deeply puzzling. I also think that the Trump campaign is still well within its rights to contest the tabulations. Something very strange happened in America’s democracy in the early hours of Wednesday November 4 and the days that followed. It’s reasonable for a lot of Americans to want to find out exactly what.

It really is, as noted above, pretty straightforward: a large turnout election, conducted more by mail-in ballots than usual, took a few days to count in some localities.

Indeed, a pollster should know that it is not unusual for some states to take days to finish the count, but since it often doesn’t matter to the EV totals, we don’t usually pay that much attention.

The following claim alone really suggests one of the following: he is being disingenuous, he isn’t a very good analyst, or he is a victim of motivated reasoning:

First, consider some facts. President Trump received more votes than any previous incumbent seeking reelection. He got 11 million more votes than in 2016, the third largest rise in support ever for an incumbent. By way of comparison, President Obama was comfortably reelected in 2012 with 3.5 million fewer votes than he received in 2008.

I keep seeing this and I keep thinking: why does anyone think this means anything? First, population growth plus increased turnout meant Trump was almost certainly going to get more votes this election. Second, since he lost the popular vote in 2016, trying to fit him into a pattern of past winners of the presidency makes no analytical sense. He is an outlier regardless of anything else going on.

We are told that Biden won more votes nationally than any presidential candidate in history. But he won a record low of 17 percent of counties; he only won 524 counties, as opposed to the 873 counties Obama won in 2008. Yet, Biden somehow outdid Obama in total votes.

This is the kind of thing that sounds smart, but it leaves out a key bit of information: what are the populations of the counties under discussion? After all, county lines are largely arbitrary as it pertains to population (especially population growth since the lines were drawn).

Plus, since Obama won the national popular vote in 2008 by 7.2 percentage points, it stands to reason he would have won more counties. You think a pollster would understand that dynamic. It is therefore either a poor analytical choice to compare 2020 to 2008 (instead of 2016 to 2020) or an attempt to create doubt by distracting.

A 2016 to 2020 comparison of counties provides this:

Based on an NPR analysis of the more than 3,000 counties, it was, in fact, mostly a base election with some key persuasion in Democratic-leaning suburbs that went for Joe Biden by wider margins than they did for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

In 2020, there have been far fewer counties that flipped from one major party to the other, as compared with four years earlier. In 2016, 237 counties changed allegiances from 2012 — 216 of them went from President Barack Obama to Donald Trump.

In 2020, just 77 counties total have flipped so far, and Biden won 59 of them.

See, also, this piece from Brookings: Biden-voting counties equal 70% of America’s economy. What does this mean for the nation’s political-economic divide?

BTW: all 50 states are not fully certified, so some of this analysis is, by definition, incomplete. Indeed, it would seem a lot of the skeptical claims about the numbers have been missing the fact that they are using incomplete counts in comparison in 2020 to complete ones from the past.

We then have this, which is a kind of weird set of assertions to be made by a self-identified pollster:

Another anomaly is found in the comparison between the polls and non-polling metrics. The latter include: party registrations trends; the candidates’ respective primary votes; candidate enthusiasm; social media followings; broadcast and digital media ratings; online searches; the number of (especially small) donors; and the number of individuals betting on each candidate.

Despite poor recent performances, media and academic polls have an impressive 80 percent record predicting the winner during the modern era. But, when the polls err, non-polling metrics do not; the latter have a 100 percent record. Every non-polling metric forecast Trump’s reelection.

A couple of responses:

  1. If non-polling metrics have a 100% success rate, we don’t we use them instead of polls? Indeed, if that claim is correct there is a massive money-making opportunity here for someone given public concerns about polling.
  2. If you are going to assert that such metrics are awesome, it sure would be nice to see some of those metrics and an explanation of why they are so great.
  3. I am sincerely amazed that a pollster would think such non-random metrics like social media following would mean anything. For example: is it a shock that the President of the United States would have a lot of Twitter followers? Further, it doesn’t take mad analytical skills to suss out that “follow” does not mean “supporter” in that context. The same logic would apply to television ratings.
  4. The primary vote thing is simply a ridiculous metric, as I noted yesterday.

He concludes with a list:

1. Late on election night, with Trump comfortably ahead, many swing states stopped counting ballots. In most cases, observers were removed from the counting facilities. Counting generally continued without the observers

I dealt with the main issue here above. I continue to find it impossible that these guys don’t understand what happened here.

And the observer thing is an attempt at sleight of hand to create doubt. First, specific evidence is not provided. Second, observers are not required in any event.

2. Statistically abnormal vote counts were the new normal when counting resumed. They were unusually large in size (hundreds of thousands) and had an unusually high (90 percent and above) Biden-to-Trump ratio

That’s easy: some precincts are heavily in favor of one party. Trump won some precincts 90-10, Biden won others. There are entire cities and counties that are overwhelmingly populated by voters that support one party. Clinton won Philadelphia County 83-15 in 2016. I guarantee that there were precincts within the county that were 90+% Democratic. Trump won Fulton County 84-14 in the same contest.

A pollster should know better. Getting a 90-10 Biden outcome in a precinct known to be roughly 90% Democratic is not statistically abnormal, indeed quite the opposite. What would be statistically abnormal would be that if a precinct known to have a 90-10 Dem-Rep split was coming up 50-50.

If you poll favorite football teams in Seattle Washington, it would not be statistically abnormal for the poll to overwhelmingly find Seahawks fans.

This is pretty basic stuff.

3. Late arriving ballots were counted. In Pennsylvania, 23,000 absentee ballots have impossible postal return dates and another 86,000 have such extraordinary return dates they raise serious questions

First, just because a ballot is late does not, ipso facto, make it problematic.

Second, this claim is misleading because the state allowed a three-day grace period for ballots to arrive, and this was upheld by the US Supreme Court (Supreme Court Allows Longer Deadlines for Absentee Ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina).

4. The failure to match signatures on mail-in ballots. The destruction of mail in ballot envelopes, which must contain signatures

This falls into: the “got evidence?” category.

Also: IIRC it is standard procedure to trash the envelopes after processing. (I am happy to be corrected if I am mistaken). One thing is for sure: once the ballot is seperated from the envelope, the envelope is worthless for determing any specific ballot’s valildity, since due to privacy the ballot is not connected back to the envelope in any way (any more than an in-person ballot is connected to a specific voter).

5. Historically low absentee ballot rejection rates despite the massive expansion of mail voting. Such is Biden’s narrow margin that, as political analyst Robert Barnes observes, ‘If the states simply imposed the same absentee ballot rejection rate as recent cycles, then Trump wins the election’

This is just an assertion.

6. Missing votes. In Delaware County, Pennsylvania, 50,000 votes held on 47 USB cards are missing

As best as I can tell, despite this being a rampant assertion on Twitter and cable news, this is based solely on one man’s statements. Statements not made under oath, I would note. Via Fox News: Pa. poll watcher, a Navy vet, alleges missing USB cards, up to 120,000 questionable votes.

This boils down to “some dude said.” (Again, I am open to correction).

(Side note: who call USB thumb drives, “USB cards”?).

7. Non-resident voters. Matt Braynard’s Voter Integrity Project estimates that 20,312 people who no longer met residency requirements cast ballots in Georgia. Biden’s margin is 12,670 votes

This is one guy’s estimate. And that guy’s Twitter bio describes him as “Former Data Chief and Strategist for Trump for President.” As such, I think I need to see a bit more on this before I take it especially seriously.

8. Serious ‘chain of custody’ breakdowns. Invalid residential addresses. Record numbers of dead people voting. Ballots in pristine condition without creases, that is, they had not been mailed in envelopes as required by law

We are back to the “got evidence?” category. Assertions aren’t evidence.

9. Statistical anomalies. In Georgia, Biden overtook Trump with 89 percent of the votes counted. For the next 53 batches of votes counted, Biden led Trump by the same exact 50.05 to 49.95 percent margin in every single batch. It is particularly perplexing that all statistical anomalies and tabulation abnormalities were in Biden’s favor. Whether the cause was simple human error or nefarious activity, or a combination, clearly something peculiar happened.

Gotta admit, 53 counts in a row with the exact same percentages sounds fishy. But, I would need a lot more than just this assertion, especially when this list also shows the author’s willingness to accept single-sourced assertions.

Look, I take elections very seriously and very much think that if there is evidence of voting irregularities and fraud that we ought to investigate them,

But, I also take the notion of evidence seriously. Assertions aren’t evidence. And the fact that we can conceive of a scenario does not make it so.

I can conceive of a massive international plot by a shadowy communist organization to subvert US elections by hacking our system.

But I can also conceive of matter/anti-matter explosions being harnessed in the warp core of a starship to warp space so as to traverse vast distances.

I can conceive of an alien orphan crash landing in Kansas who ends up having the capacity to transform solar radiation into fantastic powers.

Heck, we can conceive of a scenario in which Barack Obama was born in Kenya, but someone had the foresight to put a birth announcement in a Hawaii newspaper just in case young Obama wanted to run for president some day.

The human mind can conceive of many things but at the end of the day, that isn’t enough for those conceptions to be reality.

If all that the human mind could conceive was also true, then we would have no fiction.

Reality requires facts, data, and evidence.

So far, whether it be Team Trump in court or the keepers of the flame of doubt as per above, I have seen precious little evidence of anything other than a normal election process.

Jonathan Chait writes Feb. 26, 2021:

Michael Anton has written a lengthy complaint about his appearance on a podcast with Andrew Sullivan, who annoyed Anton by interrogating his refusal to accept the election. Decrying “the apparent blatantness of the 2020 irregularities, the all-too-evident refusal to explain any of them, and now the official persecution of those who raise doubts,” Anton argues that efforts to challenge his fantasies are an attack on his “freedom of thought.”

Jonathan Chait wrote Feb. 23, 2021:

Michael Anton has been confronted with a dilemma few writers have ever contemplated: how to handle catastrophic success. Anton’s 2016 essay, “The Flight 93 Election,” made a then-shocking case to the right-wing intelligentsia in favor of Donald Trump’s election. Anton chose the arresting metaphor of Flight 93, the hijacked plane from September 11, 2001, whose passengers stormed the cockpit in a desperate bid to stave off certain death. Electing Trump, he conceded, was risky (like seizing a plane from terrorists midair), but the alternative of electing Hillary Clinton posed certain political and demographic death.

Trump won, of course. Anton got a job in the administration, and his millennialist perspective grew so influential that the Trump presidency culminated in a mob of thousands following Anton’s metaphor quite literally, storming the center of government power in a desperate bid to prevent a Democratic presidency.

Either out of modesty, or perhaps the advice of a friendly lawyer, Anton does not take credit for inspiring the January 6 insurrection. Still, his new essay labors under the burden of success. He is arguing for a new strategy for the right in the wake of Trump’s presidency crashing and burning. His position is chilling: He urges Republicans to keep rushing the cabin, to make the Flight 93 “emergency” more or less a permanent condition.

Anton’s analysis of January 6 begins with the premise that Trump was indeed cheated out of the 2020 election. This is a majority belief among conservatives, though they differ on the precise details of the election-stealing theories they endorse. Anton dismisses some of the claims made by Sidney Powell, but argues that officials in five states, one of them controlled by Republicans, engaged in or permitted the mass manufacturing of fake votes in the middle of the night.

“Officials ‘found’ huge tranches of ballots that overwhelmingly—and in some cases exclusively—favored Biden,” he suggests conspiratorially.
Anton is either unaware of, or dismisses out of hand, anodyne explanations: Several states counted same-day ballots (which Trump had successfully urged his supporters to use) before mail ballots, and that precincts in large cities often report after small towns.

Anton, rendering some of Trump’s most absurd logic in plausible-sounding English sentences, identifies what he calls “historical anomalies” suggesting his failed reelection was suspicious:

Beyond the statistical, there are historical anomalies. Since the 19th century, not a single incumbent president who gained votes in his second run has lost. To the contrary, winners often shed votes. Barack Obama’s total, for instance, dropped by 3.5 million. President Trump’s rose by more than 11 million. Certain states and counties have long served as “bellwethers”: win them, and you win it all. President Trump won all the bellwether states and 18 of 19 bellwether counties. Successful incumbents tend to have “coattails”: they carry down-ballot officials from their party over the finish line. The Republicans gained 11 House seats, did not lose the Senate (at least not on election day) in a year when more than two thirds of defending incumbents were Republican, and cleaned up at the state level. Finally, primary voting has long been a leading indicator of the November outcome: dominate the primaries, win the general. No incumbent who received 75% or more of the total primary vote has ever lost re-election; President Trump got 94%.

No precedent lasts forever, and perhaps one or more of these really were broken in 2020. But all of them?

Republicans did gain House seats in 2020, but Anton’s instinct that there was a peculiar disparity between House and presidential results is the opposite of the truth: This election featured a tighter match between House votes and presidential votes than any election in decades. The House map heavily favors Republicans, so Trump could win a majority of districts while still losing the national vote by 7 million ballots. Trump and Anton have turned a fact that is evidence of Republican advantage into evidence of their party being cheated.

Only eight presidents have run for reelection since the modern primary system even existed. He is right that there is an anomaly in Trump losing despite sweeping the primaries and gaining more votes, but an anomaly produced from a minuscule sample size tells you nothing. Anton is observing the fact that Trump cranked up his base to high levels, while also cranking up opposition to even higher levels with his aberrant behavior, and interpreting it not as evidence of Trump screwing up the job, but as evidence of Trump being treated very unfairly.

Anton, however, then proceeds to thread the needle. After arguing the election was probably stolen, he scolds Trump for failing to hire lawyers who could prove it in court, and then raising the expectations of his supporters that he would prevail. “To be blunt, millions of the president’s supporters became convinced that the outcome of the election would be reversed and that he would serve a second term,” he laments. “Not merely that this was the right or correct or just outcome, but that it really would happen.” They were correct to believe the election was stolen, but naïve to think Trump actually had the capacity to do anything to stop the steal.

The most talked-about claim regarding voter fraud I see in my chat room is this one dissected by the Washington Post, Dec. 7, 2021:

President Trump continued to make baseless accusations of voter fraud on Saturday night, many of which we have already fact-checked. During a campaign rally for GOP senators facing runoff elections in January, he pushed a video he called “proof” of Georgia poll workers illegally stuffing and counting ballots at the State Farm Arena on Election Day. That’s where absentee and military ballots were counted in the state.

The minute-long clip he references — which was uploaded to Trump’s personal YouTube account from an OAN broadcast — is part of longer testimony presented by Trump’s legal team at a hearing Thursday in Georgia.

The footage, which was referenced directly at the rally in support of incumbent Sens. David Purdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), was part of a litany of falsehoods and unsubstantiated claims surrounding Trump’s election loss.

The video in question, presented by volunteer Trump campaign attorney Jacki L. Pick, claims to show poll workers actively stuffing ballots from “suitcases” hidden under a table covered by a black cloth.

In a breathless voice, Pick — a major donor to Republicans — claims:

“At about eight o’clock in the morning — we’re going to roll this back and show it to you. There you go. And now they are going to start pulling ballots from under this table. This table, the black one, was placed there by the lady with the blonde braids at about 8:22 in the morning. So she put that table there. … You’ll notice the table’s not here at all. Here it comes. The table going in that we’re talking about where the ballots were obscured. That lady, who is moving it, is the lady with the blonde braids. … So what were these ballots doing there, separate from all the other ballots? And why are they only counting them whenever the place is cleared out with no witnesses … is the question.”

It’s all nonsense. The surveillance video, which comprises four security camera feeds — shows no irregularities, illegal behavior or evidence of malfeasance on behalf of poll workers. The supposed “suitcases” have been repeatedly identified by election officials as the standard boxes used in Fulton County to transport and store ballots. The video also fails to show any act of hiding or obscuring any ballots or election materials.

Additionally, the video shown doesn’t prove the Trump campaign’s assertion that GOP monitors were told to leave the counting room in order for poll workers to engage in illegal ballot counting.

Georgia voting official Gabriel Sterling told our colleague Amy Gardner that no formal announcement to clear the room was ever made. Sterling added that the full surveillance feed shows workers handling ballots that were stored and processed in full view of the news media and partisan monitors earlier in the evening.

Those earlier moments were caught on tape but weren’t shown by the Trump campaign. Reporters from local NBC affiliate 11 Alive, who were covering the vote and present at the arena, in a report titled “These ‘suitcases’ are actually ballot containers,” have independently confirmed that no one was asked to leave.

An affidavit filed by the chief investigator for the office of the Georgia Secretary of State on Sunday stated that a review of the security footage showed no ballots were placed under the table during the day. When workers thought counting would be stopped for the night, ballots that had been opened but not counted were sealed in boxes and stored under a table, but then they were brought out again when counting continued.

According to Michael Anton in his recent essay in the Claremont Review of Books: “Perhaps the single-best summary of the irregularities is “Memorandum: How the 2020 Election Could Have Been Stolen,” by Claes Ryn, a professor of politics at the Catholic University of America, published online at the American Conservative.”

If this is the best case summary, then the case is weak. The essay cause barely a ripple online.

The headline “Memorandum: How The 2020 Election Could Have Been Stolen” and the sub-head of this piece by Mr. Ryn are at logical war with each other: “A political scientist examines the evidence and concludes that widespread fraud took place.”

Ryn has no publishing history with regard to voter fraud and there’s no evidence he has any expertise in the field. According to his Wikipedia entry: “Ryn’s fields of teaching and research include ethics and politics; epistemology; historicism; politics and culture; the history of Western political thought; conservatism; the theory of constitutionalism and democracy; Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Irving Babbitt; Benedetto Croce.”

Ryn writes: “I had barely begun looking into them when I noticed that, very shortly after the election, European experts on American elections, some of whom also had advanced expertise in statistics, had published articles or given interviews in which they claimed to have seen clear evidence that the election was “rigged”! In Sweden of all places, an expert on American elections published a series of articles showing that Biden’s win in the swing states simply could not be explained without assuming major fraud.”

He does not provide any citations for these claims.

Ryn writes: “First of all, the historical record indicates that when a sitting president increases his vote totals relative to his original election, he is reelected.”

Not a strong argument for reasons discussed above.

Ryn writes: “Another basic fact: certain American states almost always go with the winner. Florida and Ohio are at the top of that list, partly because they reflect the demographic composition of the U.S. as a whole.”

Not a strong argument for reasons discussed above.

Ryn writes: “In 1960, the outcome in these states was not the same as in the general election. What presidential election was that? Nixon-Kennedy. That is the election that was almost certainly stolen for JFK in Illinois (Cook County) and Texas.”

Ryn provides no evidence for his claims about the 1960 election.

Ryn writes: “There is another measure of who is the winner in a presidential election that is even more persuasive. This measure indicates that there was something very strange, even inexplicable, about the outcome of this year’s presidential election in the swing states. There are numerous bellwether counties across the United States that almost always vote for the winner in the national election. There are counties that voted for the winner in the presidential elections from 1980 to 2016. In 2020, with rare exceptions, these counties suddenly reversed course. They did not vote for the person regarded as the winner, but for Donald Trump. Nineteen counties have been identified whose vote is viewed as a particularly good predictor of the outcome in the presidential election. They are virtually certain to go with the winner. It has been assumed that if a candidate carries 15 to 16 of those 19 counties, he is also bound to be the winner of the presidency.”

Another dumb argument as discussed above.

Ryn writes: “An astonishing example of his meeting strong resistance is that he won fewer American counties than any previous modern American president-elect. Obama won 873 counties in 2008. Biden barely captured 500 in 2020! (Trump won about 2,550 counties.) The record of a winner? His percentage of the vote per state did not even match that of Hillary Clinton… You might have thought that for Biden to win the election, he would have had to equal or surpass Hillary Clinton’s vote percentages around the country. But in general, the opposite was the case. He underperformed in the bigger cities, Democratic strongholds that are crucial to Democratic victories in presidential and other elections… For some reason, in just a few states, the reported Biden vote ran counter to the national trends just described. And where was this wholly aberrant pattern? Why, in the battleground states, which Trump had won in 2016. They are the states that Biden now simply had to win to capture the presidency. In those states, Biden somehow dramatically reversed his substandard trend in the rest of the country!”

Nonsense. As the USA Today published November 20, 2020: “Biden received significantly more votes than Clinton in most major metro areas.

USA TODAY aggregated official 2016 voting data and unofficial 2020 voting data from the country’s 10 largest cities — or the counties in which they’re located, if data by city was not available — plus Detroit, Milwaukee and Fulton County, where Atlanta is located. Biden received more votes than Clinton in 10 of those 13 locations.”

This kind of shoddy reasoning is the “perhaps” best case summary according to Michael Anton.

Ryn writes: “In Pennsylvania, at least one truck with already completed ballots is alleged to have been brought in from New York.”

Ryn provides no footnotes or citations in his essay. However, I did a little research and found out this is another bogus allegation. As LancasterOnline.com noted Dec. 2, 2020:

It’s a story presented without hard evidence, a tale without even a clear allegation of what kind of fraud occurred, or how it happened.

But it’s gone viral among supporters of President Donald Trump, who have embraced the president’s assertion that the 2020 election was stolen, despite the fact that numerous officials, including the nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, have concluded the election was fair and square

The story in question was told by a man named Jesse Morgan at a Wednesday press conference in Arlington, Va., convened by a Republican lawyer to present alleged evidence of election fraud.

Morgan said he works as a truck driver for a U.S. Postal Service contractor. He said he delivered what he thought was 130,000 to 280,000 ballots from a postal facility in Bethpage, New York, to Harrisburg and then Lancaster on Oct. 21. The ballots, he said, had return addresses for New York.

Morgan said he parked the trailer at a Lancaster city postal facility. When he returned the next morning, the trailer, which he referred to by the serial number “10-R 1440,” was gone.

Morgan’s allegation quickly spread online Tuesday night. Trump posted about it on social media to his millions of followers, and Morgan was interviewed in primetime by Fox News host Sean Hannity, a close ally of the president.

The story Morgan told was not, in itself, evidence of fraud. And while pieces of Morgan’s story could be true, they also wouldn’t be unusual, said Diane Skilling, interim director of Lancaster County’s elections office.

In every election, the county sends and receives back absentee ballots from voters out of the state. Students, people traveling and, in some cases this year, people stuck in other places because of COVID-19 lockdowns, returned their ballots with out-of-state return addresses, Skilling said.

Ryn writes: “Experts who have compared the Dominion voting machines in the battleground states to machines of a different kind in other states have asserted that, on average, the Dominion machines routinely shifted 2 to 3 percent of the votes from Trump to Biden. Data scientists and statisticians claim that in many places, Trump votes just disappeared, or batches were switched from the Trump column to the Biden column.”

Nov. 14, 2020, the USA Today stated:

Fact check: Dominion voting machines didn’t delete votes from Trump, switch them to Biden

A national coalition announced Thursday that there is no evidence that any voting software deleted or changed votes in last week’s election, per USA TODAY.

In fact, the security group — which includes the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Association of State Election Directors — described the election as “the most secure in American history.”

“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” the coalition concluded.

It added that all states with close results have paper records of each vote that allow for a recount, if necessary.

“This is an added benefit for security and resilience,” the coalition wrote. “This process allows for the identification and correction of any mistakes or errors.”

CISA Director Chris Krebs also retweeted a message from election law expert David Becker that condemned “wild and baseless claims about voting machines,” according to CBS News.

Edward Perez, an election-technology expert at the OSET Institute, a nonprofit that studies voting infrastructure, told the New York Times that claims about Dominion voting machines are “misinformation at best and, in many cases, they’re outright disinformation.”

“I’m not aware of any evidence of specific things or defects in Dominion software that would lead one to believe that votes had been recorded or counted incorrectly,” Perez said.

…A few — though not all — of the counties in Michigan and Georgia that experienced minor issues on Election Day used voting systems made by Dominion.

But the errors were not glitches with the machine, and there’s no indication that the software affected the vote counts.

Ryn writes: “In previous years, a substantial percentage of mail-in ballots had been invalidated for obvious errors. This year, when new and partly improvised voting procedures had brought in a vastly larger number of mail-in ballots, many of them deposited in drop boxes, almost none of them were invalidated in Democrat strongholds.”

FiveThirtyEight notes Feb. 17, 2021:

Why So Few Absentee Ballots Were Rejected In 2020
It was the nightmare scenario for the 2020 election: With so many more people than usual casting absentee ballots, observers feared that a significant share of ballots would be rejected for not following proper procedure. One study, for instance, showed that first-time mail voters, who are less familiar with the rules of absentee voting, were up to three times more likely to have their votes rejected, and at least 550,000 absentee ballots went uncounted during last spring and summer’s heavily vote-by-mail primary elections.

But those fears did not come to pass. According to data collected by FiveThirtyEight from state election offices, not only did absentee-ballot rejection rates not rise, but rejected ballots were actually less of a problem than they were in 2016…

From the 27 states, plus Washington, D.C., where we were able to obtain data, only 297,347 out of 47,999,299 absentee ballots cast in the 2020 general election were rejected — a rejection rate of 0.6 percent. And in 20 of the 23 jurisdictions that provided data for the last two presidential elections, the 2020 rejection rate was lower than 2016’s.

For many states, the number of rejected absentee ballots turned out to be an incredible success story. Massachusetts, for example, cut its rejection rate from a mediocre 3.3 percent in 2016 to an excellent 0.6 percent in 2020 (for reference, states historically have had rejection rates of up to 6 percent). Maryland rejected about the same number of absentee ballots in 2020 (3,669) as it did in 2016 (3,672) — despite nine times as many total absentee ballots being cast (1,528,327 vs. 177,350). Four other states1 also rejected fewer ballots in absolute terms in 2020 than they did in 2016, despite a sizable increase in the total number of absentee ballots cast.

What’s behind this remarkable success? Election-administration experts cite several factors, but a big one was that voters submitted their absentee ballots early. That’s important because, in a normal election, the number-one reason that absentee ballots are not counted is that they arrive too late. But in 2020, several states reported steep dropoffs in the share of absentees received after the deadline. For instance, in Delaware, the share of absentee ballots that arrived late decreased from 1.3 percent in 2016 to 0.2 percent in 2020. In Maryland, it decreased from 1.3 percent to 0.1 percent. In Massachusetts, it decreased from 1.7 percent to 0.04 percent. According to the data for all three states (plus Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Vermont), this dropoff in late ballots accounted for a majority of their overall reduction in rejected ballots.

One reason for this is obvious: Voters heeded election officials’ exhortations to send back their absentee ballots as early as possible. Ubiquitous reminders in the media and saturation coverage of problems at the U.S. Postal Service likely helped, too. But states by and large also proactively changed their election policies to prevent ballots from getting tossed due to lateness. Several states extended their deadlines so that ballots could arrive after Election Day (as long as they were properly postmarked), including Massachusetts. Michelle Tassinari, the director of the commonwealth’s Elections Division, told FiveThirtyEight that this was a big reason for the Bay State’s improvement.

Tammy Patrick, a senior adviser with the Democracy Fund, also applauded states for giving voters ways to return their ballots other than mailing them back (which, of course, can take several days). “Those return options made the difference in many ballots not coming back late.” Indeed, according to preliminary findings from the Survey of the Performance of American Elections, 45 percent of mail ballots were dropped off in person in 2020, up from 29 percent in 2016. In large part, this was because of increased access to ballot drop boxes. At least 38 states plus Washington, D.C., offered drop boxes in the 2020 general election, up from about 13 that did so before 2020. According to Tassinari, this was another secret to Massachusetts’s success. “We encouraged every city and town to get drop boxes, and some municipalities even had multiple drop boxes,” she said. “For instance, the City of Worcester had them in all the fire stations.”

Some states also implemented reforms to speed up the USPS’s ability to process ballots. “More states used intelligent mail bar codes [on their ballot envelopes] that allowed the postal service to know where ballots were and make sure they were processed in a timely manner,” explained Patrick. Massachusetts was one of those states: Election officials applied for 351 separate postal permits for special envelopes with bar codes pre-addressed to the 351 city and town clerks across the commonwealth — “a difficult, exhausting process,” Tassinari told us, but one that was worth it in the end. Instead of having to be hand-stamped, Tassinari explained, the envelopes could be processed automatically, leading to faster delivery.

Ballot lateness wasn’t the only problem that got better in 2020. Some states also cut into the second-most common reason absentee ballots tend to get rejected: voter error, such as a missing or invalid signature on the ballot envelope. For example, 15 states plus Washington, D.C., began offering voters the ability to “cure,” or fix mistakes on, their absentee ballots, according to Amber McReynolds and Grace Beyer of the National Vote at Home Institute. (That’s on top of the 17 states that already allowed ballot-curing before 2020.) State data suggests that this prevented thousands of ballots from being rejected. In Kentucky, which temporarily changed its election laws last year to allow ballot curing, 2,933 ballots were cured, leaving only 1,197 that were rejected. In Georgia, a state that had a cure process previously, 2,777 ballots were cured, cutting the number of ballots that were eventually rejected to 7,604.

Some states also implemented reforms to speed up the USPS’s ability to process ballots. “More states used intelligent mail bar codes [on their ballot envelopes] that allowed the postal service to know where ballots were and make sure they were processed in a timely manner,” explained Patrick. Massachusetts was one of those states: Election officials applied for 351 separate postal permits for special envelopes with bar codes pre-addressed to the 351 city and town clerks across the commonwealth — “a difficult, exhausting process,” Tassinari told us, but one that was worth it in the end. Instead of having to be hand-stamped, Tassinari explained, the envelopes could be processed automatically, leading to faster delivery.

McReynolds emphasized, however, that it wasn’t just that states changed their policies; technical advancements made a big difference as well. “Going into 2020, only one state had a full statewide ballot-tracking system that would notify voters of an issue right away. Now there are six,” she said. “And a lot of other states didn’t adopt full tracking systems but did put the information on their website so voters could look it up.” Some of these systems were incredibly quick and easy for voters, such as Colorado’s TXT2Cure program, which sent voters of discrepant ballots a text message with a link where they could upload a photo of their ID and sign a voter affidavit, right on their smartphone.

In addition, both McReynolds and Patrick praised organizations such as the Center for Civic Design for working with states to design more user-friendly ballots and envelopes. “Things like plain-language voter instructions, an ‘X’ in the signature box so voters know where to sign — something as simple as that little ‘X’ drives down the rejection rate,” Patrick explained. According to Whitney Quesenbery, the CCD’s executive director, 18 states plus Washington, D.C., adopted its designs or instructions last year, either statewide or in select counties. One of them was North Carolina, whose dramatically more legible ballot envelope may have had a tangible impact. According to preliminary data from the state board of elections, the share of absentee ballots tossed for incomplete witness information2 went from 1.4 percent in 2016 to 0.6 percent in 2020.

Quesenbery herself, though, downplayed the CCD’s role in decreasing rejection rates, giving more credit to voter-education campaigns.

Ryn writes: “This startlingly lopsided addition of votes occurred after the departure of poll watchers.”

The Associated Press noted Nov. 14, 2020:

The Trump campaign said from the beginning that Republican poll watchers were being improperly denied access to observe the counting of ballots. Not so, countered election officials in key battleground states, who said rules were being followed and they were committed to transparency.

In Pennsylvania, for example, state election officials said poll watchers were certified in every county. Republican lawyers acknowledged in court that they had observers watching polls and mail-in ballots being processed.

In Michigan, a Trump campaign lawsuit included assertions from their observers that poll workers rolled their eyes when viewing votes for Trump, wore masks or clothing supporting the Black Lives Matter movement or appeared to double-count ballots. Other lawsuits claimed poll watchers were temporarily denied access in some locations, but there has been no evidence to back it up. Nor was there evidence of votes being miscounted out of political bias. And most of the litigation alleging this has been dismissed…

Trump’s legal allies have tried to argue that if poll workers weren’t on hand, anything could have happened out of their view. But they have not provided any evidence of nefarious activity.

Ryn writes: “Political scientists and well-informed journalists know that, for generations, political “machines” in America’s bigger cities, virtually all of them one-party enclaves, have been more or less prone to voting “irregularities.” Many Democrats concede this fact, partly because it can affect Democratic primaries. Fraud could be used against some of them or against candidates they prefer.”

Ryn does not bother to provide any evidence. His column is pathetic, almost nobody aside from Anton cites it, and Michael Anton is pathetic for considering it “perhaps” the best case summary for voting irregularities in the 2020 election.

Lorraine C. Minnite wrote in 2015 about The_Politics_of_Voter_Fraud:

• Voter fraud is the “intentional corruption of the electoral process by the voter.” This definition covers knowingly and willingly giving false information to establish voter eligibility, and knowingly and willingly voting illegally or participating in a conspiracy to encourage illegal voting by others. All other forms of corruption of the electoral process and corruption committed by elected or election officials, candidates, party organizations, advocacy groups or campaign workers fall
under the wider definition of election fraud.
• Voter fraud is extremely rare. At the federal level, records show that only 24 people were convicted of or pleaded guilty to illegal voting between 2002 and 2005, an average of eight people a year. The available state-level evidence of voter fraud, culled from interviews, reviews of newspaper coverage and court proceedings, while not definitive, is also negligible.
• The lack of evidence of voter fraud is not because of a failure to codify it. It is not as if the states have failed to detail the ways voters could corrupt elections. There are hundreds of examples drawn from state election codes and constitutions that illustrate the precision with which the states have criminalized voter and election fraud. If we use the same standards for judging voter fraud crime rates as we do for other crimes, we must conclude that the lack of evidence of arrests, indictments or convictions for any of the practices defined as voter fraud means very little fraud
is being committed.
• Most voter fraud allegations turn out to be something other than fraud. A review of news stories over a recent two year period found that reports of voter fraud were most often limited to local races and individual acts and fell into three categories: unsubstantiated or false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief and administrative or voter error.
• The more complex are the rules regulating voter registration and voting, the more likely voter mistakes, clerical errors, and the like will be wrongly identified as “fraud.” Voters play a limited role in the electoral process. Where they interact with the process they confront an array of rules that can trip them up. In addition, one consequence of expanding voting opportunities, i.e. permissive absentee voting systems, is a corresponding increase in opportunities for casting unintentionally illegal ballots if administrative tracking and auditing systems are flawed.
• There is a long history in America of elites using voter fraud allegations to restrict and shape the electorate. In the late nineteenth century when newly freed black Americans were swept into electoral politics, and where blacks were the majority of the electorate, it was the Democrats who were threatened by a loss of power, and it was the Democratic party that erected new rules said to be necessary to respond to alleged fraud by black voters. Today, the success of voter registration drives among minorities and low income people in recent years threatens to expand the base of the Democratic party and tip the balance of power away from the Republicans. Consequently, the use of baseless voter fraud allegations for partisan advantage has become the exclusive domain of Republican party activists.

…The claim that voter fraud threatens the integrity of American elections is itself a fraud. It is being used to persuade the public that deceitful and criminal voters are manipulating the electoral system. No available evidence suggests that voters are intentionally corrupting the electoral process, let alone in numbers that dilute and cancel out “the lawful votes of the vast majority of Americans.”1
The lack of evidence is not due to a failure to codify voter fraud as a crime, nor is it due to the inability or unwillingness of local law enforcement agencies to investigate or prosecute potential cases of voter fraud. In fact, when we probe most allegations of voter fraud we find errors, incompetence and partisanship. The exaggerated fear of voter fraud has a long history of scuttling efforts to make voting easier and more inclusive, especially for marginalized groups in American society. With renewed partisan vigor fantasies of fraud are being spun again to undo some of the progress America has made lowering barriers to the vote.

…Allegations of “voter fraud” should be analyzed to determine 1) who is alleged to have committed the fraud, and 2) which stage of the electoral process is alleged to have been corrupted. This approach will go a long way toward clarifying whether electoral integrity is being breached and what needs to be done to secure the process…

How prevalent is voter fraud? A 2005 U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee report claimed that “voter fraud continues to plague our nation’s federal elections, diluting and canceling out the lawful votes of the vast majority of Americans” (emphasis added).7

This would be shocking if it were true. But the Committee made it without providing a single piece of evidence to support or clarify the claim. It cited no surveys, no statistics, no studies, no credible evidence whatsoever to back up its warning that election results are routinely distorted by fraud in the United States.

Evidence of voter fraud like all other crimes comes from law enforcement efforts to combat it
The Committee cited no data because there is very little to cite. Evidence of voter fraud like evidence of other forms of criminal behavior is primarily produced by law enforcement efforts to detect and prosecute it. And the available evidence here suggests that voters rarely commit voter fraud.8 As in the case of all other kinds of crime, it is simply unacceptable to allege law breaking without providing at least some supporting evidence.

What is that evidence? At the national level, a major new project at the U.S. Department of Justice, the Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative (BAVII) has resulted in only a handful of convictions.9 According to the Attorney General, since the inception of the program in 2002, “we’ve made enforcement of election fraud and corruption offenses a top priority.”10 The result? Government records show that only 24 people were convicted of or pleaded guilty to illegal
voting between 2002 and 2005, an average of eight people a year. This includes 19 people who were ineligible to vote, five because they were still under state supervision for felony convictions, and 14 who were not U.S. citizens; and five people who voted twice in the same election, once in Kansas and again in Missouri.

…The available state-level evidence of voter fraud, culled from interviews, reviews of newspaper coverage and court proceedings, while not definitive, is also negligible.12 There are no reliable, officially compiled, national or even statewide statistics on voter fraud.13 Even though many criminal acts associated with “voter fraud” are classified as felonies, voter fraud fails to appear in the F.B.I.’s uniform crime reports. There are no publicly available criminal justice databases that include voter fraud as a category of crime. No states collect and publish statistics on voter fraud.14

The lack of evidence is not due to a failure to codify voter fraud as a crime

If fraud is such a persistent concern of those who run elections, government agencies responsible for election administration should collect statistics on it, as they do in other serious matters, certainly other crimes. It is not as if the states have failed to detail the ways voters could corrupt elections. There are hundreds of examples drawn from state election codes and constitutions that illustrate the precision with which the states have criminalized voter and election fraud.

If we use the same standards for judging voter fraud crime rates as we do for other crimes, which is to calculate the incidence of crime from law enforcement statistics on arrests, indictments and convictions, we must conclude that the lack of evidence of arrests, indictments or convictions for any of the practices defined as voter fraud means very little fraud is being committed relative to the millions of votes cast each year in state, local and federal elections…

The lack of evidence of voter fraud is not due to law enforcement agencies ignoring their duties

Even if crime reports underestimate true crime rates because some crimes go unreported or undetected, or because criminal behavior is sometimes addressed by means other than prosecution, crime is still measured as a function of law enforcement efforts to address it. Under the rule of law, enforcement efforts establish the core evidence of crime. It is difficult to conceive of whole categories of criminal behavior that go almost completely undetected or ignored by law enforcement officials at all levels of government across the U.S. today. And yet, those who believe there is a lot of voter fraud despite the lack of evidence frequently fall back on this argument. When confronted they charge the paucity of evidence is due to the government’s failure to undertake the investigations and prosecutions that would produce it.15 A more plausible explanation is that voters are not committing fraud, leaving little to investigate or prosecute.

The lack of evidence of voter fraud is not due to the inability of law enforcement agencies to pursue voter fraud investigations

Some argue that local officials are ill-equipped to detect voter fraud and poorly motivated to pursue investigations and prosecutions of voter fraud given their lack of expertise and resources and the public’s demand for attention to more serious or violent crimes.16 If election crime, perhaps like international securities fraud or organized crime, were beyond the ken of local officials to investigate, then we might expect a dearth of prosecutions and little evidence of voter fraud.

This is another explanation offered by those who argue that there is a lot of fraud despite the lack of evidence. Local officials, the argument goes, can’t or won’t prosecute fraud for a variety of reasons. The detection and prosecution of voter fraud, however, is not beyond the ken of local officials. In fact, as the Justice Department manual on how to investigate and prosecute election crime argues, “there are several reasons why election crime prosecutions may present an easier means of obtaining convictions than do other forms of public corruption.” They are, 1) “election crimes usually occur largely in public,” 2) “election crimes often involve many players,” and 3) “election crimes tend to leave a paper trail.”17 Without any evidence to support it, the notion that local law enforcement officials are unable or unwilling to investigate or prosecute voter fraud lacks merit. But, as the saying goes, if you repeat a rumor enough times people will start to believe it…

The systematic use of baseless voter fraud allegations is strategic and in this sense rational, if unethical. In the late nineteenth century when freedmen were swept into electoral politics and where blacks were the majority of the electorate, it was the Democrats who were threatened by a loss of power, and it was the Democratic party that erected new rules they claimed were necessary to respond to the alleged fraud of black voters.

Today, the success of voter registration drives among minorities and low income people in recent years threatens to expand the base of the Democratic party and tip the balance of power away from the Republicans. Therefore, it is not difficult to understand why party operatives might seek to strategically generate enough public support for new restrictions on the vote that will disproportionately hinder opposition voters.40 These efforts are misleadingly labeled “the electoral
integrity” movement because after two hundred years struggling for the vote and winning it from below, ordinary voters are not so easily discredited in the name of democracy. Efforts to do so must appeal to misplaced moral sensibilities like the idea that “integrity” trumps rights. In the end, baseless voter fraud claims are essentially political acts because the contested history of party, race and class in American politics makes them so.

The Washington Post published Feb. 27, 2021: “…voter fraud is rare, mail-in ballots have been almost entirely free of fraud for decades, no widespread fraud was found in the fall election, and courts across the country dismissed more than 60 legal challenges filed by the Trump campaign.”

The Washington Post Sep. 11, 2020, tackled Trump’s allegations about the potential for fraud with mail-in ballots:

“There is, of course, evidence of some absentee ballot fraud, just as there is for in-person fraud, although in both cases it is quite minimal — a handful out of hundreds of millions of votes cast over the last two decades,” said Richard Briffault, a professor and elections expert at Columbia Law School.

Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — use mail ballots as the primary method of voting. In 2018, more than 31 million Americans voted by mail, representing one-quarter of election participants, according to the National Vote at Home Institute.

“Despite this dramatic increase in mail voting over time, fraud rates remain infinitesimally small,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice. “None of the five states that hold their elections primarily by mail has had any voter fraud scandals since making that change.”

A Washington Post analysis of data collected by three vote-by-mail states with help from the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) found that officials identified 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent.

Another analysis over a longer period also found a very low rate of fraud. “There were 491 prosecutions related to absentee ballots in all elections nationwide between 2000 and 2012, out of literally billions of ballots cast,” Richard L. Hasen, an elections expert at the University of California at Irvine, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

Trump established a presidential commission to investigate voter fraud in 2017, but it disbanded without finding any. A database maintained by the conservative Heritage Foundation, Ginsberg wrote in his op-ed, “has compiled every instance of any kind of voter fraud it could find since 1982. It contains 1,296 incidents, a minuscule percentage of the votes cast.”

In his CNN interview, Barr falsely said a man was indicted in Texas for collecting “1,700 ballots … from people who could vote, he made them out and voted for the person he wanted to.” A single ballot was proven fraudulent in that case — and it was caught. A spokeswoman for Barr said he relied on a memo that contained an “inaccurate summary” of the Texas case, but the attorney general did not back down from his claim about “substantial fraud and coercion” in mail voting.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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