Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections by Mollie Hemingway

This could have been great but the author mixes in bad points with the good, and the overall effect is that of a woman throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. The book would have benefited from running it by a skeptic such as a voter fraud expert or other political experts who are not partisan Republicans.

The book never lives up to its title, but a less dramatic though more accurate title such as The Obstacles Trump Faced In His 2020 Re-Election Bid, may not have sold as many copies.

The book reminds me of Tucker Carlson’s shows — a lot of great stuff and a lot of bad stuff filled with constant pandering to the base.

Mollie writes for Trumpists, and as a result, everyone who is not a Trumpist is going to find abundant reasons to dismiss her efforts.

Rigged would have benefited from showing the author’s familiarity with the academic literature regarding voter fraud. She should have listed the primary arguments of the best thinkers making the case that voter fraud was not significant in the 2020 election and then provided evidence that they were wrong. Think of how Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species. He kept listing types of evidence that would invalidate his thesis. Mollie Hemingway would have benefited from a similar approach.

In the final analysis, she’s another pundit feeding a particular audience what they want to hear. She could have been better than this. One day, someone from her side will.

Mollie tweets Aug. 11, 2022: “Shutter the FBI. Immediately. They are a threat to the country and self-governance.”

That seems a tad hyperbolic.

Smiling Arab emails:

Surprised you can get through a Mollie Hemingway book. I don’t think those things are intended to be read by anyone, they’re excuses for junkets, media appearances, etc. You can pretty much write a Federalist column before you read one and I’m sure her book is basically a conglomeration of the factoids and anecdotes that everyone has melted their brain over a thousand times.

Reminds me of a book I read about the Vietnam War, apparently LBJ knew about Nixon’s overtures to the South Vietnamese (via Anna Chennault) that scuttled the Paris Peace Talks. LBJ knew this because he was fucking bugging Nixon’s phones. The author (who if I remember right worked for some southern Democrats in the past) was at pains to put this into the context that pretty much all presidents bugged their rivals. Which was actually also true.

What was funny about Trump is that for the first time the spies went rogue and bugged the current administration. I have no doubt that’s what happened with Mike Flynn (him talking to the Russian ambassador framed the story PERFECTLY) and they probably had a cut-out passing info to Biden from taps and leaks too. The context, again, is that people always abused their power to spy on their adversaries in this country. The difference now is we had pretty obvious examples (Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe, the Flynn leak, the pee dossier, etc.) that nat sec was clearly targeting someone on their own. That’s your book, Mollie, but that’d would involve more than compiling a bunch of the trash articles crazy uncles share on Facebook. Now, like a good courtier, she’s gotten the nod from El Patron, so she’ll write dumb shit about the FBI she doesn’t mean and frankly probably doesn’t believe given the way these types flick the bean over dreams of strong law enforcement breaking down doors and arresting “traitors.” But now that Trump made it okay, that might be her next book and no one will read that one either.

Andrew E. Busch writes for the Fall 2021 edition of the Claremont Review of Books:

A loose interpretation of Hemingway’s title—Rigged—would simply imply that the playing field was tilted against President Trump. Although Hemingway easily makes that case, her title promises more than it delivers. Taken literally, it might mean that things were arranged so Trump could not possibly win under any circumstances. That claim is not defensible unless one argues that a widespread and coordinated fraud campaign was in place to make sure Trump lost even if he won. But Hemingway declines to make that argument, and Trump—who did make it—did not come close to proving it.

More generally, Rigged could have benefitted from a less forgiving approach to Trump. For example, a substantial section early in the book covers the Trump campaign’s successful effort to change the Republican Party’s rules for selecting delegates, choosing state party leadership, and scheduling primaries so as to gain the upper hand against any potential intraparty challenge. Hemingway clearly admires this strategic acumen, but she never asks: Doesn’t this mean Trump rigged the primaries? And why is that any better than Democrats rigging the general election? Hemingway uses substantial material from personal interviews with the former president, a coup for any journalist. This material often provides interesting insights and occasionally reveals a bit of self-reflection by Trump, such as when he acknowledges that he was overly belligerent in the first presidential debate. On some occasions, however, Trump’s pronouncements call out for a challenge that never comes. At one point, Trump declares, “I was winning by so much prior to the Chinese virus that George Washington with a running mate of Abraham Lincoln couldn’t have [beaten me].” Although this claim was amusing and typical of Trump’s incessant salesmanship, it was also not even close to being true. Yet Hemingway simply uses it to buttress the (improbable) view that the election was Trump’s to lose in February 2020.

Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of Rigged is its failure to come to grips with Donald Trump’s contribution to his own defeat. One has to read to the 333rd page before the author admits, “That’s not to say that Trump didn’t say or do unwise things, about the coronavirus and many other things.” This tardy and perfunctory concession doesn’t do justice to the problem. In reality, Trump made a very large number of unforced errors throughout his presidency and was so offensive to so many Americans that his average job approval rating as measured by RealClearPolitics never exceeded 47%. He was “underwater,” his average approval outweighed by disapproval, every single day of his presidency after January 27, 2017—that is, after exactly one week as president. From day one, his personal favorability ratings were underwater and usually worse than his job approval ratings, with an election-day average of 41%. And at no point during his presidency did the percentage of Americans who thought the country was on the “right track” approach the percentage who thought it was on the “wrong track.” On Election Day, poll respondents said that the country was on the “wrong track” rather than the “right track” by nearly a two to one margin.

Exit polls showed that while Trump led narrowly among voters who said issues were most important to their vote selection, he lost two to one among the quarter of voters who said personal qualities were most important. From 2016 to 2020, Trump went from leading independents by four percentage points to losing them by 13 and from leading suburbanites by four to losing them by two. He also suffered serious deterioration among his natural constituencies: though he still led among rural voters and military veterans in 2020, his margins in these key demographics declined, respectively, from 27% to 15% and from 26% to 10%. Hemingway glides over all of this. She notes that Joe Biden treated the election as a referendum on Trump, but she infers nothing from this fact except that Democrats were united only by their hatred of the president. She argues that, following his first impeachment acquittal, “Trump was back on track for victory in November” and “Trump’s opponents would need a miracle to stop him.” Actually, the president trailed Biden in head-to-head polls from mid-2019 on. He was never “on track for victory.” Biden’s referendum strategy was one any challenger would adopt when facing an incumbent with Trump’s unimpressive record of public support. As we saw in 2016, none of that meant that Trump couldn’t pull a rabbit out of his hat and win the electoral vote anyway. But it would never have been a landslide, and no one should have been surprised that he lost.

Of course, one should not expect Rigged to offer a full exposition of Trump’s self-inflicted wounds alongside a full exposition of the way the game was tilted against him. Then the book would have had twice as many pages and no clear theme. It is impossible, however, to weigh the importance of the factors outlined in Rigged without taking into account a realistic assessment of Trump’s weaknesses. Of all the factors working against the president, the most intractable was himself.

Mollie Hemingway writes in this 2021 book:

* If questioning the results of a presidential election were a crime, as many have asserted in the wake of the controversial 2020 election and its aftermath, then much of the Democratic Party and media establishment should have been indicted for their behavior following the 2016 election. In fact, the last time Democrats fully accepted the legitimacy of a presidential election they lost was in 1988.
After the 2000 election, which hinged on the results of a recount in Florida, Democrats smeared President George W. Bush as “selected, not elected.”

When Bush won re-election against then senator John Kerry in 2004, many on the left claimed that voting machines in Ohio had been rigged to deliver fraudulent votes to Bush.

HBO even produced and aired the Emmy-nominated Hacking Democracy , a documentary claiming to show that “votes can be stolen without a trace,” adding fuel to the conspiracy theory fire that the results of the 2004 election were illegitimate.

But nothing holds a candle to what happened in 2016 after Donald Trump’s surprising defeat of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Rather than accept that Trump won and Clinton lost fair and square, the political and media establishments desperately sought to explain away Trump’s victory. They settled on a destructive conspiracy theory that crippled the government, empowered America’s adversaries, and illegally targeted innocent private citizens whose only crime was not supporting Hillary Clinton.

The Russia collusion hoax had all the elements of an election conspiracy theory, including baseless claims of hacked voting totals, illegal voter suppression, and treasonous collaboration with a foreign power. Pundits and officials speculated openly that President Trump was a foreign asset and that members of his circle were under the thumb of the Kremlin.

But despite the patent absurdity of these claims, the belief that Trump stole the 2016 election had the support of the most powerful institutions, individuals, and even government agencies in the country. To question the legitimacy of the 2016 election wasn’t to undermine our democracy; it was considered by some of our most elevated public figures a patriotic duty.

“You can run the best campaign, you can even become the nominee, and you can have the election stolen from you,” Clinton told her followers in 2019.

“I know he’s an illegitimate president,” Clinton claimed of Trump a few months later.

She even said during an interview with CBS Sunday Morning that “voter suppression and voter purging and hacking” were the reasons for her defeat.

Former president Jimmy Carter agreed. “[Trump] lost the election and was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf,” he told NPR in 2019. “Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016.”

Their view was shared by most prominent Democrats in Congress. Representative John Lewis of Georgia, for example, said he was skipping Trump’s inauguration in 2016 because he believed Trump was illegitimate: “[T]he Russians participated in helping this man get elected.… That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not an open democratic process.”

Lewis had also skipped the inauguration of President George W. Bush, claiming Bush, too, was an illegitimate president.

A few members of Congress joined him in 2001. By 2017, one out of three Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives boycotted Trump’s inauguration.

Many said they refused to take part in the installation of an “illegitimate” president.

The corporate media didn’t condemn leading Democrats’ refusal to accept the results of the 2016 election. In fact, the media amplified the most speculative claims of how Trump and Russia had colluded to steal the election from Clinton. They dutifully regurgitated inaccurate leaks from corrupt intelligence officials suggesting Trump and his staff had committed treason. They ran stories arguing that Republicans who didn’t support their conspiracy theory were insufficiently loyal to the country or somehow compromised themselves.

* And then 2020 happened.

At the drop of a hat, America’s electoral system went from irredeemably corrupt and broken in 2016 to unquestionably safe in 2020. Voting methods that were allegedly used to steal elections in 2004 and 2016 suddenly became sacrosanct and unquestionable in 2020. Whereas so-called election experts repeatedly warned pre-2020 about the pitfalls of electronic voting and widespread mail-in balloting, by November 2020 any discussion about the vulnerabilities of those methods was written off as the stuff of right-wing cranks and conspiracy-mongers.

* In the lead-up to the election, thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic that gripped the world, wide-ranging electoral reforms were implemented. Across the country at the state, local, and federal levels, political actors rammed through hundreds of structural changes to the manner and oversight of elections, resulting in what Time magazine would later call “a revolution in how people vote.” Some of these changes were enacted by state legislatures, some by courts, and others by state and county election officials. Many changes, allegedly justified by the global pandemic, were broad reforms that Democrats had long desired. The crisis was their chance to sneak in contentious policies through the back door.
The bedrock of the American republic is that elections must be free, fair, accurate, and trusted. Election lawyers will tell you that fraud is almost impossible to conclusively find after the fact, and that to fight it, strong rules and regulations are needed on the front end. That’s why Democrats and Republicans fight so bitterly about the rules and regulations that govern the process.

* A 2005 bipartisan commission co-chaired by none other than Jimmy Carter found that absentee balloting was the largest source of potential fraud in American elections. Why should 2020 be any different?
They worried that universal mail-in balloting would make ballots harder to track, as some states bombarded addresses with ballots for previous residents who had moved out but hadn’t been struck from the voter rolls. What would happen to all the excess ballots?

[LF: This is the first major mistake in the book. She needs to attach a footnote that provides evidence for her point. If she had evidence, she would have footnoted this as she has already used 15 of them.]

* They worried third-party ballot harvesting would encourage voter fraud. Some states had called for unsupervised drop boxes to replace or supplement ordinary polling stations. What would stop those boxes from being tampered with, or, worse still, from being filled with fraudulent votes by bad actors?

[LF: She made such a good start to this book, but now she’s run out of steam and can find no evidence to support her case.]

* They worried ballot management in some areas was privately funded by corporate oligarchs overtly hostile to the Republican Party. Didn’t that give at least the appearance of impropriety? And they worried that failing to remove the deceased and those who moved out of state from voter rolls would cause worse problems in an election in which mail-in balloting would feature so prevalently.

[LF: And where’s the evidence that this led to significant voter fraud?]

* As mail-in ballots came in and were accepted even when they were not properly filled out, Republicans saw the consequences of the mad rush to change the nation’s voting laws. And they saw how the media dismissed all concerns about how the election was run without a lick of investigation.

[LF: I wish she would have provided evidence for how this was significant to vote totals.]

* The powers that be did whatever it took to prevent Trump from winning his re-election bid in 2020. They admitted as much in a victory lap masquerading as a news article in Time magazine that referred to the individuals and institutions behind the efforts to oust Trump as a “well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information.”

[LF: I read this Time cover story carefully and nowhere does it describe efforts to oust Trump. Rather, it describes efforts to insure that the election came off with minimum disruption.]

* Not that long ago, the notion that mail-in ballots were problematic was the accepted wisdom in liberal media outlets. “Voting by mail is now common enough and problematic enough that election experts say there have been multiple elections in which no one can say with confidence which candidate was the deserved winner,” wrote Adam Liptak in a 2012 New York Times article headlined “Error and Fraud at Issue as Absentee Voting Rises,” specifically citing the 2000 presidential election as an example.

“Absentee ballots are not the only way to fraudulently win an election,” wrote the Washington Post ’s David Fahrenthold that same year, in an article which claimed that selling votes was “a common type of election fraud.”

* He further cemented his legend when he ran Al Franken’s 2008 recount and legal challenges, which overturned the result of the election and led to a radical transformation of the country. The day after the election, Franken had lost the race to Republican senator Norm Coleman, but by only 727 votes. In swooped Elias and his team of attorneys and experts, who systematically set out over the course of six months to turn the 727-vote loss into a 312-vote victory. The ultimate decision in Franken’s favor gave Democrats a supermajority in the Senate, which they used to enact the sweeping health care legislation known as Obamacare.

[LF: There’s no evidence that Norm Coleman won this election. There’s no evidence that Democratic lawyers swung the outcome of this election. Mollie’s basis for her claims are an article in Esquire by left-wing polemicist Charles Pierce.]

* After the 2020 election, pollster Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling & Research blasted the politicization of his industry and issued a statement noting that a slew of inaccurate polling results that almost universally overstated Biden’s support left pollsters “vulnerable to criticisms of contributing to voter suppression.”

* the [Fox News] Decision Desk made a prediction just after 9:00 p.m. on Election Night that Democrats would gain at least five seats in the House, strengthening their majority. Instead, Democrats lost a dozen seats, shrinking their majority to a razor-thin margin. That call was corrected more than a week after it was issued.

* Governor Kemp, under pressure from Democratic groups alleging voter suppression, had already signed a law earlier in 2019 that relaxed signature requirements and made it more difficult to reject ballots for signature mismatch or other ballot problems. Elias, who was leading the lawsuits, wanted the requirements relaxed even more.

On March 6, Raffensperger, with the advice and counsel of much of the state and national Republican establishment, entered a “consent decree” conceding to Elias’s and the Democratic Party’s demands, including a new procedure for reviewing signatures on mail-in ballots. When other Republicans learned what Raffensperger had done, they were shocked. Democrats’ high-powered attorneys introduced several significant changes defining how Georgia law regarding the “curing” of ballots should be interpreted. That meant that when an absentee ballot came in with problems that would typically lead it to be discounted, the voter was instead given a chance to “cure,” or correct, the ballot.

Raffensperger’s legal counsel would later testify that Republicans agreed to some of these provisions because they were eager to keep Democrats from extending election day by delaying ballot deadlines, and failure to be generous with curing procedures would encourage judges to intervene more in altering the election.

The decree also said Democrats would offer training and guidance material on signature verification to county registrars and absentee ballot clerks.

Most important, the settlement got rid of any meaningful signature match for mail-in ballots. The law had previously required signatures to match the signatures on file with the Georgia voter registration database. But the settlement allowed the signature to match any signature on file, including the one on the absentee ballot application that Raffensperger would soon decide to send to every address on file.

That meant a fraudulently obtained ballot would easily have a signature match, leaving no way to detect fraud.
The consent agreement also made it more difficult to reject mail-in ballots. Under the new rules, a ballot could only be rejected if a majority of registrars, deputy registrars, and ballot clerks assigned to the task agreed to it, another burden that made it easier to just let all ballots through without scrutiny. What’s more, many counties used minimum-wage temporary workers to sort through ballots, not skilled analysts of what constitutes a signature match.
The change to the law, combined with the consent decree, did exactly what the Democrats had hoped: it made it more difficult for election officials to reject absentee ballots. Critics would later note that the absentee ballot rejection rate in Georgia had plummeted since 2016, when 6.4 percent of mail-in ballots were rejected, and 2018, when 3.6 percent of mail-in ballots were rejected. In 2020, just .4 percent of absentee ballots in the general election were rejected.

When Raffensperger consented to Elias’s demands, few people expected there would be such a dramatic and sudden rise in mail-in balloting in 2020. Election officials are reluctant to check signatures in any election, much less scrutinize them, even when the mail-in ballots are a small percentage of the ballots cast. When dealing with hundreds of thousands or millions of such ballots, it’s a practical impossibility. Even if overwhelmed election workers bother to look at iffy signatures, they often just decide to let them pass, especially since drawing attention to a problem will only bring them additional work.

* Citing irregularities with absentee ballots and peculiarities at polling sites, the New York Times said Georgia’s “embattled election officials” were dealing with a voting system that suffered a “spectacular collapse.”
The Times said it was unclear whether the problems were caused by “mere bungling, or an intentional effort” by Raffensperger and his fellow Republicans in the secretary of state’s office. The “trouble that plunged Georgia’s voting system into chaos” was related to Dominion Voting Systems, the Times claimed, “which some elections experts had been sounding alarm bells about for months.”

A few months later, any complaint about a voting machine would be treated by the media as a conspiracy theory. But in 2019 and the first half of 2020, the same journalists and experts who would defend Dominion to the hilt were rabidly opposed to Georgia’s voting machines, claiming they were insecure.

“Georgia likely to plow ahead with buying insecure voting machines,” wrote Politico in March 2019 about the plan to replace voting machines, saying cybersecurity experts, election integrity advocates, and Georgia Democrats had all warned about the security problems of the new machines, which were electronic but also spit out a marked paper ballot.

“Security experts warn that an intruder can corrupt the machines and alter the barcode-based ballots without voters or election officials realizing it,” the article claimed. It was alleged that a “meaningful audit” was “impossible.”

When Georgia picked Dominion Voting Systems in August 2019, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution warned that “critics say the system will still be vulnerable to hacking,” citing high-profile hacks of Capital One and Equifax, as well as the online attacks on Atlanta and Georgia courts.

“Election officials will have to be on guard against malware, viruses, stolen passwords and Russian interference,” the article continued.

Again, just over a year later, saying the same thing the Atlanta-Journal Constitution had would become grounds for being removed from social media.

“Georgia in Uproar Over Voting Meltdown,” the New York Times proclaimed in a June 9, 2020, story, citing problems with Dominion Voting Systems and Raffensperger’s management of the election. “The machines bought by the state last year were instantly controversial. Security experts said they were insecure. Privacy experts worried that the screens could be seen from nearly 30 feet away. Budget hawks balked at the price tag. And one of Dominion Voting Systems’ lobbyists, Jared Samuel Thomas, has deep connections to Gov. Brian Kemp, the Republican who defeated Ms. Abrams in 2018,” the article read.

The Washington Post piled on. “As Georgia rolls out new voting machines for 2020, worries about election security persist,” the Post reported. Further, “election security experts said the state’s newest voting machines also remain vulnerable to potential intrusions or malfunctions—and some view the paper records they produce as insufficient if a verified audit of the vote is needed.”

Again, all of these claims would be memory-holed a few months later when it was Republicans, not Democrats, expressing concerns about the security of Georgia’s voting systems.

* Raffensperger also requested and received a $5,591,800 grant from the privately funded Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), a group funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

The group reported Georgia used the funds to push mail-in balloting and to counteract negative messaging about mail-in voting. The secretary of state’s office focused the spending in Democratic counties, hoping to avoid the negative media attention that had greeted them after the Democratic counties botched the June primary.

Particularly with Democrats’ strategy being to drive up mail-in voting, the millions of dollars in advertising and support of Democratic counties acted as a state-run complement to Democrats’ get-out-the-vote operation.
CEIR reported that it contacted all fifty states and invited them to apply for grants to help push mail-in voting. Twenty-three applied for and received money. In a report after the election, CEIR tried to downplay its work helping Democrats, saying “there was a fairly even partisan and geographic balance” in the awards. It noted that eleven of the states that received funds had voted for Trump in 2016, while twelve voted for Hillary Clinton.
Left unsaid was that Biden states received 88.4 percent of the funding and an average award of more than $3.5 million—3.34 times as large as the amount Trump states received.

* The CDC quickly issued guidance urging Americans to “practice usual precautions” if traveling to Wuhan.

The CDC began screening visitors from Wuhan for symptoms at the three airports most likely to receive flights from the region: San Francisco, JFK, and LAX. By January 20, the National Institutes of Health had started work on a vaccine.

The CDC’s Emergency Operations Center was activated the next day.

On January 29, President Trump announced the formation of the “President’s Coronavirus Task Force” to lead the response.

On January 31, Trump banned travel for all foreign nationals who had visited China in the past fourteen days, and Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar declared a Public Health Emergency.

The Trump administration’s aggressive response to the virus of instituting a travel ban was strongly opposed by the media and Democrats.
“Who Says It’s Not Safe to Travel to China?” asked the New York Times.

“The coronavirus travel ban is unjust and doesn’t work anyway.”

Author Rosie Spinks suggested racism was the cause of the ban. “The coronavirus outbreak seems defined by two opposing forces: the astonishing efficiency with which the travel industry connects the world and a political moment dominated by xenophobic rhetoric and the building of walls.”

STAT, a health and medicine news site, ran a piece headlined, “Health Experts Warn China Travel Ban Will Hinder Coronavirus Response,” and said the ban was desired by “conservative lawmakers and far-right supporters of the president,” even as “public health experts… warn that the move could do more harm than good.”

Others emphasized that Trump’s policies “contradict advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), which said yesterday that countries should not restrict travel or trade in their response to the new virus.”

Later, when it became apparent that the restrictions were wise and the narrative needed to be changed from Trump was doing too much to that he was doing too little, members of the media tried to rewrite recent history. Politico’s Dan Diamond retroactively claimed, “[I]n late January, Trump’s initial coronavirus moves were widely hailed as [a] strong and appropriate response.”

Early on, though, the conventional wisdom was that there was no need to panic over the novel coronavirus.

* “Don’t worry about the coronavirus,” BuzzFeed told its readers. “Worry about the flu.” The Washington Post quoted Ian Lipkin, a U.S. epidemiologist who helped China respond to the 2003 SARS virus, as saying, “It is very unlikely that this will ever reach the level that we annually lose to flu.”

“Is this going to be a deadly pandemic? No,” Vox told readers.

The Washington Post ran an article headlined, “Get a Grippe, America. The Flu Is a Much Bigger Threat Than Coronavirus, for Now.” Another article said, “Past epidemics prove fighting coronavirus with travel bans is a mistake.”

The media weren’t entirely to blame, as they were following the lead of public health experts in many cases. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said the American public shouldn’t worry about the coronavirus outbreak in China. “It’s a very, very low risk to the United States,” Fauci said, just before Trump shut down travel from China.

As Trump expressed concern about the virus from China, Pelosi went shopping in crowded shops in San Francisco’s Chinatown in late February and encouraged everyone to follow her lead. “We do want to say to people. Come to Chinatown, here we are,” she said.

On March 10, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program downplaying the threat. “If you’re under 50 and you’re healthy, there is very little threat here. This disease even if you were to get it basically acts like a common cold and flu. And transmission is not that easy. I think there’s been a misperception that coronavirus hangs in the air waiting to catch you. No, it takes direct person to person contact, direct transmission of fluids.” He talked about the need to keep schools open, keep the economy going. “We cannot shut down because of undue fear.”

* Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and America’s highest paid federal employee, told a Senate committee in March that people should not wear masks “because right now, there isn’t anything going around right now in the community, certainly not coronavirus, that is calling for the broad use of masks.”

The media were already dutifully amplifying the anti-mask message. It was one of many issues on which they’d make a major about-face.
“Masks may actually increase your coronavirus risk if worn improperly, surgeon general warns,” CNN reported.

“How to Prepare for Coronavirus in the U.S. (Spoiler: Not Sick? No Need to Buy Any Masks),” wrote the Washington Post in February.

CNN said, “There’s been a run of surgical masks in the US because of the coronavirus scare. You don’t need them, physicians say.”

A later story said, “Masks can’t stop the coronavirus in the US, but hysteria has led to bulk-buying and price-gouging.”

NBC News added, “Frequent hand-washing, not wearing a face mask, is the most important step the public can take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization said.”

Naturally, the bureaucrats’ anti-mask message was contrasted with Trump’s willingness to cast about for a wide variety of possible responses to confronting the pandemic. NBC reported that Trump had become “fixated” on masks: “At the end of February and early March, Trump had become fixated on masks. He was annoyed that the government was telling people not to wear them and would angrily ask scientists and health officials in private why—if they don’t help—why do doctors wear them?”

The CDC changed its position in April, saying that masks should be worn. Later, Fauci would admit that the “mixed message” on masks had hampered public health by sowing distrust.

Still, the Democrat–media complex threw the car into reverse yet again. During public appearances Trump rarely wore a mask, prompting outrage from the media and Democrats who were just weeks ago berating Americans for wearing masks.

* Unlike the Chinese government’s unduly praised pandemic response, the Trump administration’s effort to produce a vaccine was already evaluating mRNA technology that looked promising. Preliminary research had started in January, and Operation Warp Speed was launched in March.
And Trump wasn’t shy about the hopeful prospects. “We’re looking to get it by the end of the year if we can, maybe before,” he said in May.
Again, the media scoffed at this prediction.
“Fact check: A coronavirus vaccine could come this year, President Trump says. Experts say he needs a ‘miracle’ to be right,” said NBC News.
“Note: Experts and officials say that is likely faster than what is possible,” tweeted PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor.
However, these “experts” had no idea what the Trump administration was doing or what breakthroughs the heroic doctors and scientists were making as part of the vaccine effort.
Before COVID-19, the average amount of time it took to develop a vaccine was ten years, and it had never been done in less than four.

Operation Warp Speed was designed to shrink the amount of time needed by throwing money at the problem and by letting all three clinical phases of the vaccine trials proceed at the same time, instead of requiring one to be finished before starting the next. It tested safety, effectiveness, and whether inoculations affected different parts of the population differently. The government also paid for millions of vaccine doses before it even knew if they would work, incentivizing pharmaceutical companies to invest heavily in research and development.
Later in the year, when President Trump said at the second presidential debate in October that the vaccine was ready and would be announced within weeks, fact-checkers said it wasn’t true. “This lacks evidence,” said NPR. “None of the large trials have been completed. Top health officials say a vaccine likely won’t be widely available until mid-2021.”

ABC said, “FACT CHECK: Most prominent public health experts have said that a vaccine will not be widely available until mid-2021.”

Once again, facts undercut the fact-checkers. Less than one week after Election Day, on November 9, Pfizer and BioNTech issued a press release stating that their vaccine was showing to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19. The timing immediately raised eyebrows: Had the pharmaceutical giants delayed the release of their findings to prevent Trump from receiving a boost on the back of the good news?
The FDA issued its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on December 11, 2020. One week later, the Moderna vaccine was approved. And as remarkable as that achievement was, the vaccine might have been approved and released to the public sooner if one self-described “activist” doctor hadn’t intervened. Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Eric Topol, an expert in molecular medicine, had styled himself as a whistleblower sounding the alarm about how the White House was handling the pandemic, building a large social media following.
After disagreeing strongly with the contents of an FDA press release, Topol had launched a public crusade urging FDA commissioner Steve Hahn to resign over his “complete subservience to Trump.” In addition to his four hundred thousand Twitter followers, Topol’s reputation in the medical community was such that Hahn felt obligated to respond. Hahn confessed the FDA was “sensitive to external pressure” and began having private conversations with Topol. “What they said is confidential, but all signs indicate that Topol urged Hahn to defy the White House effort to deliver a vaccine by Election Day,” reported MIT Technology Review . “I came to respect him,” said Topol of the conversations. “I was convinced he’d do the right thing.”
Pfizer announced it had a vaccine that was 90 percent effective against COVID on November 9, just six days after the election. The health policy publication STAT reported that Pfizer had actually paused its testing protocol in October, “leaving samples in storage.… [I]f Pfizer had held to the original plan, the data would likely have been available in October, as its CEO, Albert Bourla, had initially predicted.”
The FDA was also aware of Pfizer’s curious decision to stop testing.
But if the Pfizer vaccine was, in fact, ready before the election—and contemporaneous reporting on Pfizer, as well as the vaccine’s successful track record since being approved just a few weeks later in December, suggests it was—it’s worth asking why the FDA waited to approve it. Was the FDA unduly pressured by Topol and other politicized elements of the medical community to withhold this vital information? And how many more lives could have been saved if it had been approved over a month earlier?
Reflecting on his presidency months later, Trump said, “Nobody ever pushed the FDA like I did, and I had no choice because people were dying by the millions all over the world. And I found them to be not incompetent, but unbelievably bureaucratic. It would take them 12 years to get a medication approved.… I was very nasty to them because if I wasn’t, you wouldn’t have a vaccine yet. I was really almost bad to them, but I wasn’t bad because I’m trying to save lives, but nobody ever talked to them the way I talked to them and I got it done. That’s the bottom line: I got it done.”
But the fact that Trump got it done was ultimately irrelevant, given the hostility he faced. “The new vaccine coming out was a huge story, a game changer, except for one thing: If they would have reported it before the election, the fake news media would have made it a tiny story. It would not have been a big deal,” he said.
Ultimately, Trump was forgiving about the handling of the vaccine. “Everybody knew the vaccine was right around the corner. It was happening. People knew that we had the vaccine, but because it came out after the election, the press made it a massive story. I knew that if it happened earlier, they would have made it into a nothing story, so I don’t feel badly about that,” he said.

* Gallup polling shows that from 2001 to 2014, strong majorities of Americans said race relations were either very good or somewhat good. Beginning in 2014, however, things changed. Whereas only 17 percent of polled Americans told Gallup they personally worried about race relations a great deal that year, by 2021 it had gone up to 48 percent. Only 11 percent were “very dissatisfied” with the state of race relations in 2011. By 2021, that number had skyrocketed to 46 percent.

* FBI director Chris Wray had, in fact, told Congress in September that Antifa is “not a group or an organization. It’s a movement or an ideology.”
Describing Antifa this way is a matter of semantics, and an insulting one at that. There are regional chapters of Antifa and Antifa organizations that have websites. Antifa’s political, moral, and legal claims to violence define it as a terrorist group. And to the extent that Antifa is extremely secretive about its “leaderless resistance” tactics, this same phantom cell structure makes it similar to how more commonly understood terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, commonly operate.
During protests, members of Antifa carry weapons and coordinate their actions in order to evade law enforcement. “They communicate in large Signal chat rooms, an encrypted peer-to-peer app,” according to reporter Andy Ngo. “They also use hand signals, they have walkie-talkie devices, and scouts who watch where the police are and provide real time updates.” Antifa spent much of the year sharing tactical intelligence to help rioters do maximum damage.
During the riots in Minneapolis, the Antifa-friendly Antifa-friendly website CrimethInc. published an anonymously written detailed report on “how a combination of different tactics compelled the police to abandon the Third Precinct.”
Despite the undeniable evidence of Antifa’s ongoing violence, the Trump administration faced serious obstacles trying to bring its members to justice. “[Antifa members] have very good street tactics and conflict doctrine as to how to do this work at the seams of the First Amendment—they use legitimate demonstrations as a host body,” observed Trump attorney general Bill Barr. Further, they operated in liberal cities in blue states where local authorities were both reluctant to stop them and unwilling to help federal law enforcement go after them. And finally, the bureaucratic inertia within the FBI was such that the agency had long focused its attention on right-wing extremists and was ill-equipped to deal with threats from the left.
Still, Barr pushed cities to deal with the problem, at one point convening a meeting for local law enforcement to exchange intelligence on Antifa. “Every chief going around the table was saying these are left-wing Marxist extremists,” said Barr. “But the FBI, I think there are people in the intelligence operation there basically saying there is no such thing as Antifa. There were others there who agree Antifa is real, but institutionally the FBI has never gotten in trouble for going after the right, they have always gotten in trouble for going after the left.” Even though decades had passed, the FBI was still skittish about the criticism it had received for infiltrating radical left-wing groups in the ’60s and ’70s.
The inaction in response to Antifa certainly helped take the pressure off Biden, who never had to answer for the bricks flying through windows, rampant looting, toppling of statues, and assaults on innocent business owners that defined urban life throughout the summer of 2020. To do so would have been to confront an uncomfortable truth—the Democratic Party and its allies have been tolerating, encouraging, and mainstreaming political violence for decades.

In 1966, Columbia University sociologists Richard Cloward and his wife Frances Piven wrote an article about the need for “cadres of aggressive organizers” to spark “demonstrations to create a climate of militancy” in cities throughout the country.

The plan was to disrupt law and order so thoroughly that America’s politicians would impose a socialist economic system to quell the violence. Cloward and Piven were explicit about exploiting racial tensions to incite mass protests. Their inspiration for the “Cloward-Piven strategy,” as it came to be known, were the Watts riots in 1965, which occurred after Los Angeles police used excessive force while arresting a black man for drunk driving.

The Cloward-Piven strategy was hugely influential among the American left in the 1960s and has never really gone away. In a 2010 leaked audio recording, Stephen Lerner—who according to the Washington Post is “considered one of the smartest organizers, if not the smartest organizer, working in the labor movement”—solemnly invoked the Cloward-Piven strategy and urged the American left and labor movement to destabilize the country.

He approvingly cited fatal and destructive riots in Greece over austerity measures as a model for achieving political change in the United States.

* On August 27, 2020, Joe Biden tweeted the quiet part out loud: “Remember: every example of violence Donald Trump decries has happened on his watch. Under his leadership. During his presidency.” That’s why the Democrats wanted to foment violence and chaos. And in the summer of 2020, they got exactly what they wanted.

* mistake: the Russian bounties story was almost certainly a coordinated misinformation operation. It eventually came out that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee were briefed on reports of Russian bounties, however reliable those reports may have been, in February. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Intelligence Committee is led by Representative Adam Schiff, who was already notorious for leaking false stories damaging Trump to the press.

And to add insult to injury, the press was fully comfortable with admitting the truth once Biden had secured his victory. In April 2021, a senior Biden official told reporters the administration had “low to moderate confidence” in the intelligence behind the reports of Russian bounties. The media didn’t throw a fit, as they had when Trump officials said the same thing; they accepted the Biden administration’s characterization, proud that they could help their man attain the nation’s highest office.

* Two years after the New York Times published an op-ed from what it described as an anonymous, principled conservative “senior administration official,” it turned out to have been written by a low-level bureaucrat who later worked for tech giant Google and gave money to far-left Democrats.

Miles Taylor revealed he was the author of the much-hyped op-ed headlined “I Am Part of the Resistance inside the Trump Administration.” In the op-ed, he claimed to secretly work to thwart Trump’s policy goals as the elected president of the United States.

While constitutional scholars worried about implications of such unaccountable thwarting of the will of the people, most media focused instead on identifying “Anonymous.” The New York Times assured readers that when it said “senior administration official,” it meant someone “in the upper echelon of an administration.”

People took the New York Times ’s claim that the anonymous writer was in the upper echelon of an administration very seriously. CNN published a column, “13 People Who Might Be the Author of the New York Times Op-Ed,” that speculated about actual senior administration officials, such as Don McGahn, Dan Coats, Kellyanne Conway, Kirstjen Nielsen, John Kelly, Jeff Sessions, Fiona Hill, James Mattis, and Nikki Haley. CNN’s Chris Cillizza also suggested it might even be Trump’s wife Melania, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, or his daughter Ivanka.

Cillizza was convinced that the august New York Times wouldn’t risk its credibility to let an insignificant federal turnspit attack Trump. “They aren’t publishing an anonymous op-ed from just anyone in the Trump administration,” he said. “They especially aren’t publishing one that alleges a near-coup.” He added, “If some midlevel bureaucrat in the Trump administration comes to the Times —or has an intermediary reach out to the Times —asking to write a piece like this one without their name attached to it, the answer would be an immediate ‘no.’ ”

He continued, confident in the Times ’s judgment. “Given all of that, it’s telling that the Times was willing to extend the cloak of anonymity to this author—especially, again, because of the stakes and the target. This is not a decision made lightly. That the decision was made to publish it should tell you that this isn’t some disgruntled mid-to-upper manager buried in the bureaucracy,” he said.

“This is a genuine high-ranking official. A name most people who follow politics—and maybe some who don’t—would recognize. The Times simply wouldn’t do what it did for anything short of a major figure in Trump world.”

But it turned out the paper was, in fact, meretricious enough to sacrifice its institutional reputation for a low-level political appointee with an anti-Trump axe to grind. Taylor had been billed as “chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security,” but he didn’t have even that position when he wrote the op-ed and was described as a senior administration official.

Even if you take a very generous reading of the term “senior administration official,” the Department of Homeland Security actually listed sixty-four individuals it considered “senior” at the department on the day the op-ed was published.

Taylor was not one of them. He was described as a policy advisor, not anything close to a senior administration official.

Taylor went on to write a book as Anonymous, and to “come out” as a Trump-hating Joe Biden supporter in the summer of 2020, with the help of CNN and the Washington Post.

CNN even hired Taylor as a contributor, and the revelation of his identity still landed with a dud.

While Taylor attempted to position himself as a principled conservative, he left the administration to work for Google. His former boss at the Department of Homeland Security said that if Taylor ever opposed anything about the Trump administration, it was news to his colleagues.

“Having worked with Mr. Taylor on the President’s immigration and counter-terrorism policy agenda, I can attest that [Miles Taylor] never vocalized disagreement with the President’s policies—and in fact expressed strong support,” Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.

That’s a problem for Taylor, since BuzzFeed noted that after the op-ed was published, he became the chief of staff who sold the administration’s “child separation policy”—a very controversial policy on the left—and never publicly or privately disagreed with it, as Wolf noted.

Taylor was neither a senior administration official nor a principled conservative. He was just a willing political operative capable of lying, as he did on air when asked by Anderson Cooper if he was “Anonymous.” “I wear a mask for two things, Anderson. Halloween and pandemics. So, no,” Taylor said.

If the New York Times was willing to lie about how high-level its anonymous source was for its very high-profile September 2018 information operation, what lies was it willing to tell about all the other anonymous sources it used?

* In recent elections, the prime example that rankled Republicans was the second debate between President Obama and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in 2012. CNN’s Candy Crowley repeatedly interrupted Romney and refused to allow him to answer claims made by the sitting president. When Romney said it took President Obama fourteen days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror, Crowley claimed Obama had actually done so the next day in the Rose Garden.

In fact, Crowley was wrong. While Obama had obliquely referenced acts of terror in his remarks that day, his administration spent the next few weeks publicly blaming the attack on the U.S. consulate on a YouTube video made by an American, a dishonest attempt to shirk responsibility for a major terror attack less than two months before the election.

While Republicans, including Trump, frequently performed well in debates, they often claimed that they had to battle the moderators as well as their opponents. The Candy Crowley case was instructive: Even if Crowley had been factually correct (which she wasn’t), was it the place of the moderator to defend a candidate?

* In December 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified under oath before Congress that the company doesn’t “manually intervene” in search results.

The next month, a Google employee leaked internal discussions to Breitbart showing that the company did, in fact, interfere with search results. Google-owned YouTube, the world’s second most popular search engine after Google itself, had a “blacklist”—Google’s term—related to a number of political topics. If you searched YouTube for abortion, Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters, gun control activist David Hogg, or other political topics, Google was rigging the results.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. “We have tons of white- and blacklists that humans manually curate,” said one Google employee. “Hopefully this isn’t surprising or particularly controversial.”

Another employee noted that the YouTube intervention on abortion search results happened shortly after left-wing publication Slate asked Google to comment on the prominence of pro-life videos on the platform.
Google also appears to have intentionally reduced the search engine rankings and visibility of conservative media. A September 2020 report in RealClearPolitics by Maxim Lott sifted through the data of the consulting firm Sistrix, which tracks data related to search engine optimization. The data clearly show that, starting in 2017, “conservative news sites including Breitbart, the Daily Caller, and the Federalist have seen their Google search listings dramatically reduced.”

And Google was making it absurdly difficult to find specific information on conservative outlets.

* Googling the name “Breitbart” still pulls up the website, but it is nearly eliminated from any searches that don’t explicitly name it. For example, Googling the names of Breitbart’s reporters sometimes forces users to click through page after page of less-relevant results before hitting a Breitbart link. In the case of Joel Pollak, the first Breitbart link appears on the bottom of page seven of Google Search results. In comparison, a search on the small Google competitor DuckDuckGo returns multiple links to Pollak’s Breitbart work on the first page.

The decision to blackball conservative websites was almost certainly intentional. In 2018, The Daily Caller obtained more leaked internal communications showing that Google workers had debated burying conservative news sites. An employee described Breitbart and The Daily Caller specifically as “opinion blogs” that should not be elevated next to corporate media in search results, even though both websites do vital reporting and regularly break major political news, while major corporate media outlets have become hyper-partisan and routinely push fake news.

It’s undeniable Google is rigging results on politically sensitive topics, and that the results of this are politically disadvantageous to conservatives. The effect of this on elections appears to be far more significant than most realize. Starting in 2012, psychologist Robert Epstein, the former editor in chief of Psychology Today , conducted a series of experiments to ascertain the degree to which biased search engine results can shape political opinion. Most people wrongly view search engine results as the product of mechanical neutrality, merely the ranking and ordering of results, and are easily influenced by them.
Epstein, a politically liberal Harvard Ph.D., would later report that during 2016 “all 10 positions on the first page of [Google] search results in both blue states and red states” were biased toward Hillary Clinton. Based on conclusions from his previous experiments, Epstein estimated that Google alone may have swayed 2.6 million Americans to vote for Hillary Clinton.

In 2019, Epstein would tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that search engine manipulation is “one of the most powerful forms of influence ever discovered in the behavioral sciences.”

In 2020, Epstein monitored Google results using over seven hundred volunteers in three swing states and concluded, “Google search results were strongly biased in favor of liberals and Democrats. This was not true on Bing or Yahoo.… The bottom line at the moment is that these manipulations, the ones that we’ve so far quantified, could easily have shifted at least six million votes in just one direction.”

Further, Epstein observed what he claimed was overt manipulation by Google. “We also found what seems to be a smoking gun. That is, we found a period of days when the vote reminder on Google’s homepage was being sent only to liberals—not one of our conservative field agents received a vote reminder during those days,” he said.

* Twitter’s executive in charge of “site integrity,” who is largely responsible for devising and implementing the platform’s new fact-checking policies, is a man with thin journalistic credentials named Yoel Roth.

Roth has used his own Twitter account to express his vitriolic and anti-Trump political opinions. “I’m just saying, we fly over those states that voted for a racist tangerine for a reason,” he tweeted. In another tweet he declared declared there were “ACTUAL NAZIS IN THE WHITE HOUSE.”

* Facebook once touted its ability to shut off 80 percent of the internet traffic to any link it deems misleading.
When deciding whom to censor, Facebook relied on media “fact-checkers” who consider themselves the opposition party. Biased journalists were given the power to scrub their rivals from the internet, thanks more to the legacy of their places of employment than their own work. This process of erroneous or slanted liberal media reports informing Facebook “fact checks” played out through Trump’s entire presidency and reelection effort. It suppressed dozens of news stories in the public interest and helped get Biden over the finish line.

* Well before Election Day, Republicans began seeing that Philadelphia Democrats were advertising on Facebook and Twitter that they had jobs for “curing” or fixing ballots well ahead of the election. Pennsylvania law says that any mail-in ballots received prior to Election Day are to be kept in sealed or locked containers until Election Day. Voters were reporting on social media that they were getting calls about not having filled out their declarations correctly or having forgotten the required secrecy envelope. On October 27, 2020, Philadelphia city commissioners even put a notice on the city’s website that voters who received notification that their ballots were canceled likely fell into one of three categories: They had notified the city they had changed their mind and wanted to vote in person, the ballot was undeliverable, or it had no signature.
That last category was stunning.
Some election officials in Philadelphia, and perhaps other parts of the state, were clearly beginning to inspect the mail-in ballots and were allowing voters to fix their problems. That would be one thing if it were happening with all the millions of mail-in ballots, but just as Allegheny County had counted ballots that hadn’t been dated while Westmoreland County held off, there was a partisan divide on this issue as well. Republican-dominant counties tended to interpret the law strictly to mean that they couldn’t begin that process until 7:00 a.m. on Election Day. Mail-in voters in areas that included more Republicans weren’t being given an opportunity to “cure” or fix ballots, while voters in Democrat-heavy areas had interpreted the law more loosely, which privileged the Democratic-leaning voters in those areas.

* By wasting time on less relevant claims, an important lawsuit failed. It had catastrophic effects for the remaining legal battles. Pennsylvania could have been the first domino to fall for the Trump campaign in a sequence of tightly contested courtroom victories. Instead, it was the beginning of the end for the campaign’s effort to hold Democrats accountable for foul play. It also had a ripple effect throughout the legal community. The media were soon dismissing all legal challenges as baseless attempts to prove widespread fraud, ignoring more substantive claims. The avalanche of bad publicity scared off credible lawyers from participating in further election challenges on behalf of the Trump campaign, and it made judges inclined to view any such challenges, no matter how merited, with suspicion.

* Studies have shown that first-time mail voters are up to three times more likely to have their votes rejected. But analysis of the 2020 election by Nathaniel Rakich at FiveThirtyEight showed that the dramatic increase in first-time mail voters in 2020 was met, somehow, with a decreasing rejection rate. In twenty of the twenty-three states he studied, the rejection rate went down from 2016. He described it as a “success story,” which assumes without investigation or evidence that all the ballots that should have been rejected were rejected.

*With nearly 160 million Americans voting in 2020, Democrat Joe Biden won the Electoral College vote 306 to 232. But the margin was much narrower than the Electoral College count would suggest. The election was exceedingly close to producing a very different outcome. Biden won Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin by fewer than 43,000 votes combined. Had just 22,000 of those votes across three states flipped from Biden to Trump, Trump would have won those states and the Electoral College would have been tied at 269 votes for each candidate. Such ties are decided by one vote for each House delegation, of which Republicans controlled a majority.

* The raft of changes the Democrats rushed in undermined many of the measures in place to detect fraud. By unilaterally issuing these changes, the Democrats undermined the faith of millions of Republicans in the election. They chose not to conduct an election that their opponents could have confidence in, and acted surprised when the declared loser challenged the results.

* It was prominent Democrats and the media who had sounded the alarm about voting system security right up until November 3, 2020.
On October 26, 2020, for example, PBS NewsHour aired a seven-minute segment on concerns outside experts had with Georgia’s new $107 million Dominion voting system. Reporter Miles O’Brien described the system as a “complex assortment of laptops, iPads, magnetic cards, touch screens, printers, and scanners.”

“They have set up a complicated system, which is centralized and doesn’t seem to have any safeguards,” said security consultant Harri Hursti in the segment.

PBS noted that the rollout of the system for the June primary resulted in significant problems. “The poll pads took as long as 30 hours to download the voter database, displayed the wrong races, and would randomly shut down. And the power-hungry ballot-marking devices blew circuit-breakers in numerous locations. Poll workers, many of whom had no hands-on training because of the pandemic, were often befuddled by the new technology,” O’Brien said.

J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan professor of computer science, said he’d analyzed the voting system, which issues a “QR” code for each ballot—a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached—and found that “there’s nothing that stops an attacker from just duplicating one, and the duplicate would count the same as the original bar code.”

Halderman had also tested whether voters could catch deliberately placed errors on their ballot, and only 7 percent did.
None of this was presented as crackpot theorizing, but instead these were treated as legitimate concerns.
Democratic senators had likewise spent years expressing deep concern over the difficulty of catching fraud with voting systems. At a 2018 Senate hearing, then senator Kamala Harris of California said, “I actually held a demonstration for my colleagues here at the Capitol, where we brought in folks who, before our eyes, hacked election machines.”

Fellow senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said, “We’re very concerned because there’s only three companies. You could easily hack into them. It makes it seem like all these states are doing different things. But in fact, three companies are controlling them.”

And Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said, “Forty-three percent of American voters use voting machines that researchers have found have serious security flaws, including back doors. These companies are accountable to no one. They won’t answer basic questions about their cybersecurity practices and the biggest companies won’t answer any questions at all. Five states have no paper trail, and that means there is no way to prove the numbers the voting machines put out are legitimate. So much for cybersecurity 101.”

Even Democratic voting rights guru Marc Elias was pushing theories about voting machines as part of his three-month challenge of Republican Claudia Tenney’s victory in a New York congressional race, delaying her seating in Congress.

While the judge didn’t find value in the claim, he didn’t rule it outside the bounds of appropriate discourse.

[LF: It doesn’t speak well of Hemingway’s judgment that she thanks crank Hans von Spakovsky and cites on John Fund’s reporting.]

About Luke Ford

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