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Not nearly enough. I’ve been analyzing various election fraud allegations as well as I can given the limits of my time, my abilities, and the amount of information available to me. It’s a mess.
No, not the election itself. Well, that was a mess too. But I mean the election allegations are a mess. And so is my analysis: It’s big, it doesn’t have enough pictures, and the big post here (or, for off-Ricochet, here) could use some serious rewriting and reorganizing.
Hey, I’m trying, I’m trying — just like the T-Rex in that Far Side cartoon, except that my arms are much longer, and that thinking through election shenanigan allegations is a much, much, MUCH bigger pile of potatoes.
So What Are We Talking About Here Exactly?
Let’s get this out of the way first: There’s not just one claim, like “The election was stolen.”
There are dozens of claims; nay, there are scores — probably hundreds!
There’s this claim about electronic fraud, this other claim about electronic fraud, and then some other claims about electronic fraud. And there’s a whole slew of different claims about Georgia. And there’s a whole slew of slews of other claims for other states.
Some claims pan out, and some don’t. And some claims don’t yield a simple, binary “Yes, fraud” or “No, fraud” answer. And not all the claims are even about fraud as such. And most of them have to be considered individually.
There are also some interesting, big summary statements that can only be handled by handling a bunch of other allegations that work into them.
Here’s a nice summary statement of which I’ve become persuaded by the available evidence: Votes illegally cast or improperly counted (and probably illegally counted, although that depends on the details of the relevant state laws) exceeded the Biden margin of victory in multiple swing states.
I used to say something rather different, by the way, which Ricochet members can check up on by going to comment Nos. 35-36 here. But that was before I’d heard about interesting claims from Just Facts Daily, Davis, Raffensperger, Stenstrom, Kamzol, and others. More information came in, and I had to change my mind. (Dang.)
This post will be a short introduction to some of the inputs that, from what I can tell, lead to this conclusion, as well as some others that don’t. Specifically, let’s look at a few claims concerning Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.
This post is a sequel to “Intro to Eight Election Fraud (and Related) Claims.” Like that one, this is only a short sample. There’s lots more fun in the aforementioned big post; and, although it is way too big, you can still go there and CTR+F for keywords.
Weirdness in Wisconsin: Bad Policy, but Not Necessarily Illegal
Good grief, but there is a lot to say about Wisconsin. It’s not great, but it’s not all bad.
Some of the major concerns in Wisconsin include:
-About 65,000 votes cast in outdoor dropboxes.
-About 54,000 votes that circumvented the voter ID requirement.
-About 17,000 votes in the city of Madison cast through the Democracy in the Park initiative.
-Election workers fixing the mistakes of witnesses who didn’t fill in their addresses properly.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission was behind most of this stuff. These things went all the way to federal court, with former President Donald Trump’s legal team challenging the WEC. Most or all of the underlying facts were agreed on by both sides. A judge named Brett Ludwig (a Trump appointee) ruled against the Trump legal team, and Andy McCarthy at National Review Online gave some commentary on the decision.
Ludwig and McCarthy strongly emphasize their view that it’s totally legal for the WEC to give elections guidance that adds to the details in written state laws. This, of course, is not the same thing as giving advice that goes against those laws.
I checked the laws myself, and I came to the following conclusions.
First, the Good
Ludwig and McCarthy are right about that standard: It is ok for the WEC to have policies not in state law. State law gave them that responsibility, and 2020 was a heckuva time to use it.
It’s not ok for them to go against state law, but you have to look at the details of each situation to see whether they did.
The law says that these ballots were to be delivered in person to the city clerk. But I figure it’s OK to deliver them in person to the clerk’s office and hand them over to someone who works for the clerk, or to put them in a dropbox there.
And if that’s OK, then it should be OK to hand them over in person to the same clerk’s employee or to the same clerk’s dropbox located outdoors. From what I can tell, that’s exactly what happened with the outdoor dropboxes and with Democracy in the Park.
So those things were legal.
And the voters who circumvented the voter ID requirement also did so legally. The law in question gives more than one way of procuring an absentee ballot. Those 54,000 ballots were procured in a way that, as it happens, does not require a voter ID.
And one more piece of good: I can’t see anything wrong with election officials fixing an address that a witness didn’t fill in properly. If, for example, a witness testifies, signs, and gives an address without a zip code, I don’t care who fills in the zip code.
Now, the Bad
But the election officials didn’t just fill in missing zip codes. They filled in entire missing addresses; they’ve been doing that since 2016. The law in question is here, and it states specifically states that “The witness shall execute the following.” Then there’s a colon, and then there are several things that fall within the scope of the colon. The law says:
The witness shall execute the following:
I, the undersigned witness, subject to the penalties of s. 12.60 (1) (b), Wis. Stats., for false statements, certify that I am an adult U.S. citizen** and that the above statements are true and the voting procedure was executed as there stated. I am not a candidate for any office on the enclosed ballot (except in the case of an incumbent municipal clerk). I did not solicit or advise the elector to vote for or against any candidate or measure.
This is pretty straightforward. “Execute” means “do,” and what the witness is supposed to do is everything following the colon. So the witness is supposed to give the address; adding the address for the witness after the witness has signed produces a ballot that has not been cast in accordance with the law.
I fear the WEC doesn’t understand how punctuation works. Some number of ballots were not legally cast, were improperly altered by election officials in this manner, and were still counted. I don’t know what that number was, however.
And there’s more bad. Let’s go back to the 65,000, 54,000, and 17,000.
Another unknown quantity of illegally cast votes is everyone who dropped off a ballot at an outdoor dropbox on someone else’s behalf. Seems innocent enough in and of itself: You’re walking down the street to the dropbox with your ballot, and your wife/husband/mother/father/brother/sister/roommate asks you to save her/him a few minutes and take her/his ballot and drop it off with yours, and you’re a nice person, so you do it, and you don’t mean anything bad by it.
But you did break a law there. And you and the other person both knew it was illegal, or at least you should have known it because there are instructions on how to cast your absentee ballot in Wisconsin.
Not that this is fraud as such, but it is illegal, and you can also see why the law exists: Without that requirement, fraud is that much easier for the real jerks out there.
And that easing of fraud goes for every one of the 65,000 outdoor dropbox votes. And for the 54,000 circumventions of the voter ID requirement. And for the 17,000 Democracy in the Park vote — a bunch of extra people were recruited to collect ballots on behalf of the city clerk and to act as witnesses. A little incompetence, or a little corruption on a small scale, would go a lot further to enable fraud in these circumstances.
With any set of 65,000, 54,00, and 17,000 votes, I would assume there is some number of fraudulent ones. With these sets, the number is sure to be higher. We just don’t know how high.
In a better year, these issues in Wisconsin would seem like a bigger deal. And they were a big deal: a few illegalities and bad policy that made fraudulent votes easier in big categories of 17,000, 54,000, and 65,000 votes. But at least the 17,000, 54,000, and 65,000 are not, as such, categories of illegally cast or illegally counted votes. Things could be worse.
Pennsylvania Problems: A Massive Chain-of-Custody Problem and Some Bad Fact-Checking
I reckon I can do this one a bit quicker.
We’re getting into more serious, but less complicated, issues here. Gregory Stenstrom witnessed a lot of weird stuff as a Republican Party observer in Pennsylvania, and his oral testimony as well as his contemporaneous, sworn written testimony are available online.
In one incident, he says that he and a Democrat observer witnessed around 60,000-70,000 ballots that were uncounted — after the counting had stopped. Obviously, it is important to follow up with this other guy and get his account, but, like the friends of Ford Prefect at the end of the book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” our journalists and other people with the responsibility to check up on this sort of thing seem to be suffering from an acute case of no curiosity.
In another incident, Stenstrom says he saw some votes being brought in via USBs without a proper chain of custody. About 50,000 of them. This incident was fact-checked. FactCheck.org looked into it, consulting a representative of the county where this happened.
The fact-check is a dismal flop. It includes these straw-man fallacies against Stenstrom:
1. It portrays him as having needed to provided evidence of fraud with these USBs, when in fact his only relevant claim was that there was no proper chain of custody.
2. It portrays him as having said that someone from the warehouse (which I believe means the warehouse that houses voting machines) uploaded the votes from the USBs, whereas Stenstrom only says that he was told by someone else that that was the case.
3. It construes Stenstrom as touting some conspiracy theory. In fact, Stenstrom’s main case is only for the conclusion that there are chain-of-custody issues. This conclusion comes from the premise that he saw what he saw and was told what he was told.
Stenstrom may personally think this all points to fraud, but if so, he barely manages to imply it while explicitly disavowing any theory of a conspiracy of any significant size. He says it “Only takes a couple of people” to cheat when you have votes being uploaded from USBs with a bad chain of custody. (He’s right, you know.)
The really important thing is the Stenstrom claim about the chain of custody itself. The fact-check does not refute this claim at all. It settles for objecting to some straw men.
To be fair, the fact-check does include some information about fail-safes that are available in case of problems. But there is no suggestion that anyone applied the fail-safes here; to the contrary, it appears that no one with authority to do so ever did, and there is no indication they even thought about it. If there had been one or two or three fraudsters present, the fact-check gives us no reason to think the scum did not get away with it.
The fact-check, in fact, leaves us very secure in our belief that one of the first walls of defense against fraud — a clear chain of custody — was not in place for these roughly 50,000 votes in Pennsylvania.
Further Fallacious Fact-Checking: The Nevada Upgrade
The name “Jesse Binnall” matters in Nevada, but I think his actual role was mainly to be the lawyer for the formal statements of some investigations done by another Jesse: Jesse Kamzol.
Kamzol did a bunch of stuff tracking lots of evidence for election shenanigans.
Well, that’s one story. The other story is that it’s all nonsense.
Let’s be fair to the critics. I believe that in one incident in court, Kamzol couldn’t give a lot of details on the method he’d used to track about 42,000 double voters. Not that that means his evidence is useless; it only means that when he was put on the spot, he personally couldn’t remember a lot of details, and that wasn’t up to the exacting standards of the court. Maybe he remembered 20 minutes later, maybe his staff were kicking themselves at the time because they knew it all perfectly but weren’t allowed to talk. It’s disgraceful that (apparently) no journalist has followed up to investigate further.
And when I say we should be fair to the critics, I mean it. That means we have to fairly criticize the critics.
From what I can tell, a different Kamzol claim was never seriously addressed by anyone. But it was, very unseriously, addressed.
To be precise, a USA Today fact-check employed a straw-man fallacy against it.
The claim: About 19,000 people illegally cast ballots in Nevada from out of state.
The fact-check’s claim: There is no evidence that people voted in Nevada who also voted in other states.
The straw-man fallacy is clear: Kamzol didn’t say that; they misrepresented his claim, refuted the misrepresentation, and ignored his actual claim.
That means that a claim about 19,000 votes cast illegally in Nevada has survived a round of fact-checking. Using my imperfect system for classifying election fraud and related allegations, this sad fact allowed for an upgrade of the 19,000: from merely “still standing” to “survived some level of fact-checking.”
Not that that proves that Kamzol’s claim is true. But the best the fact-checkers could (or would) say against this claim was, as with Stenstrom, a fallacy. As a result, this claim is somewhat more likely to be true than it would have been otherwise.
How likely? Difficult to say with any precision, but I would say somewhat more likely than not. Someone who can should check with Kamzol and check Kamzol’s own sources for this claim.
What Conclusion Should We Draw From All This?
If you want something simple like “The election was illegally stolen!” or “No, it wasn’t!”, I can’t give it to you based on this information alone.
The simplest thing I have, based on this information, is “The 2020 election was a mess!” The next-simplest thing is something I’ve been saying for a while: There is some evidence that votes illegally cast or counted by the traditional election shenanigan methods (i.e., not electronically) and by people acting with little or no coordination rivaled the President Joe Biden margin of victory in some swing states. (You can also add an “exceeding it in some cases” phrase to the end if you add some other claims, like those considered in the “Intro to Eight” post.)
That conclusion is somewhat tentative, and could change over time. My mind changed a lot already just to get here; I used to say the opposite a year ago!
Even way back then, I was already saying what I still say now:
We have to make distinctions. Not every claim of election shenanigan fits a simple narrative like “Shut up, conspiracy theorist!” or “Them Democrats stole the election again!” Paul says it well in 1 Thessalonians 5, even if he is talking about prophecies and theology instead of about the 2020 election:
… test everything; hold fast what is good.