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I have to admit I am feeling a bit depressed — a discouraged optimist. We are moving toward an election for which the outcome will not just be disappointing for some, but fundamentally suspect for far too many. It’s one thing to think the country made a poor choice. It’s quite another to think that the country made a good decision but the people have been denied their choice.
No doubt that is precisely what certain (somewhat) illiterate voters felt coming out of the 2016 election. But that was a basic misunderstanding of the electoral system embedded in the Constitution — getting more total votes cast nationally did not mean that Hillary was the winner. There may have been some nutters who thought the Russians fiddled with vote counts to put President Trump over the top, but that was never a serious theme of #Resistance. Instead, it was the belief that somehow the Russian masterminds had influenced voters to support Trump. Never happened. But created a lot of trouble for President Trump and was a real drag on his administration.
But if a significant number of people credibly believe the vote count was fiddled in 2020 from mail-in voting, we are moving into a gawdawful mess. And, since we did vote, obviously voting is not the answer.
Reports about thrown away ballots that presumably favor Trump underscore the President’s concern about a fraudulent election outcome. But there is evidence that operatives from either party are capable of ballot shenanigans. Whoever loses is going to challenge perceived voting irregularities. In Bush v. Gore, the focus was solely on one state. We will be lucky if the challenges only involve one or a handful of states.
And let’s extend this a bit. Everyone is focused on the legitimacy of the presidential election, but what about the House or Senate? Why would fraudulent votes only be targeting the top of the ticket? After all, if the goal is chaos in service of an outcome not decided by the Electoral College, you need to make sure the House and Senate are organized for your desires.
This is why voting integrity matters. If somehow we survive this mess with constitution-loving elements still in charge, this must be fixed. You can’t vote yourself out of a mess if you can’t have confidence in the vote. And confidence in the vote is more important than the outcome of the vote. Or at least it used to be. Pray it is again.Published in