State elections are run by bipartisan panels of election workers who take their duty to run fair and free elections seriously. They deserve praise for the long and thankless hours they put in every election.
They do not deserve to be falsely accused of running a fraudulent election by Republicans who know better, but who are intentionally seeking to delegitimize elections because they are fundamentally anti-democratic and authoritarian, and thus un-American.
The New York Times contacted election officials in all 50 states who said that there were no irregularities that affected the outcome of the election. The Times Called Officials in Every State: No Evidence of Voter Fraud:
Election officials in dozens of states representing both political parties said that there was no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race, amounting to a forceful rebuke of President Trump’s portrait of a fraudulent election.
Over the last several days, the president, members of his administration, congressional Republicans and right wing allies have put forth the false claim that the election was stolen from Mr. Trump and have refused to accept results that showed Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner.
But top election officials across the country said in interviews and statements that the process had been a remarkable success despite record turnout and the complications of a dangerous pandemic.
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The New York Times contacted the offices of the top election officials in every state on Monday and Tuesday to ask whether they suspected or had evidence of illegal voting. Officials in 45 states responded directly to The Times. For four of the remaining states, The Times spoke to other statewide officials or found public comments from secretaries of state; none reported any major voting issues.
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What emerged in The Times’s reporting was how, beyond the president, Republicans in many states were engaged in a widespread effort to delegitimize the nation’s voting system.
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The absence of any major findings of fraud or irregularities, and the willingness of even Republican election officials to attest to smooth operations, have also undercut Mr. Trump’s legal efforts.
The Associated Press Explains: Election’s validity intact despite Trump claims.
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds nearly 80% of Americans, including more than half of Republicans, recognize President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the Nov. 3 election. But for the other half of Republicans, the Trump cult members, the Wall Street Journal reports that “President Trump’s tweets questioning the U.S. election’s legitimacy are effective in shaping his supporters’ beliefs on that topic, while his tweets boosted his detractors’ confidence in elections, according to a study believed to be the first to estimate the effect of the president’s posts about voting.”
It’s one thing for a head case like Donald Trump to be delusional about his substantial loss, it’s another thing for elected Republicans to be feeding his delusions, and delegitimizing Biden’s election win with Trump’s cult followers. Top Republicans back Trump’s efforts to challenge election results. Some Senate Republican Leaders Are Questioning Whether Joe Biden Even Won The Election – he did, and by a lot.
The Associated Press reports that False claims of voting fraud, pushed by Trump, thrive online, and GOP lets doubts about Biden’s legitimacy flourish.
Paul Waldman of the Washington Post says Republicans have declared war on democracy itself:
If you were gripped by a particularly naive hopefulness, you might have thought that President Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election would produce a brief moment of honesty and responsibility from the Republican Party … But no. As the Trump presidency comes to a close, members of the party that has shown itself so incapable and unworthy of governing have one last card to play: They will do everything in their power to poison the American political system for years to come.
Vladimir Putin and the Russian intelligence agencies can sit back and allow the anti-democratic and authoritarian Republican Party to carry out his life’s goal of undermining American democracy for him. Thanks Comrades!
They’re doing so by spreading false claims about voter fraud, to convince their own base that the election is right now being stolen from Trump, its rightful winner. This is critical to understand: Republicans know that the majority of Americans are not persuaded by the lies and conspiracy theories they’re tossing around, nor are the courts that one after another are rejecting their preposterous lawsuits.
The target is Republican voters, and the goal is to light a fire of rage that they hope will burn for as long as Joe Biden is president.
And with just a few exceptions, the entire Republican Party and conservative media world are enthusiastically participating in the scam.
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[T]his is not merely a temporary bit of playacting to soothe the tender feelings of the toddler in the Oval Office. It will be at the heart of Republican strategy for the next four years.
Just as Republicans used the racist “birther” lie to tell themselves that Barack Obama was not a legitimate president, they will use the lie of a stolen election to say the same about Biden. Conspiracy theories, the belief that liberals cannot legitimately win or govern, and an utter lack of commitment to any democratic principle are not merely features of contemporary conservatism, they are becoming its very essence.
It is not enough for the GOP’s base to be disappointed in the results of the election and determined to do better next time. They must be enraged. For the conservative media, creating and feeding anger is a business model that goes back decades. For Republicans in Congress, one of the key functions the stolen election lie will serve is to rationalize their own misdeeds.
Because if Biden is an illegitimate usurper, then any methods are justified to oppose and hinder him, no matter how morally abhorrent or damaging to the country.
It is almost impossible to overstate how toxic this all is. Republicans are trying to destroy any commitment their voters have to the American system of government. They’re working to convince voters that any election that does not produce a Republican win, not just in 2020 but in the future, is inherently fraudulent and need not be acknowledged or respected.
This is not coming from the fringe, or a few intemperate voices, or just a corrupt president on his way out. It is the project of the entire Republican Party and conservative movement. And it is nothing short of an attack on democracy itself.
Jesse Wegman at The New York Times comes to the same observation. The Republican Party Is Attacking Democracy:
It turns out there was a coordinated attack on the 2020 election after all. It began several years ago and accelerated in the last several months. Now that Election Day has passed, it has launched into overdrive.
Its weapons are baseless insinuation and evidence-free charges, deployed solely to sow chaos and undermine the results of a free and fair election — one that produced a clear winner and an even clearer loser.
But the most dangerous attackers of American democracy aren’t the Russians or the Chinese. They are the leaders of the Republican Party.
In the face of a commanding national triumph by President-elect Joe Biden — not just an Electoral College victory but a popular-vote margin that is approaching five million — President Trump and top Republicans are behaving like spoiled children refusing to let go of their toys.
“President Trump is 100 percent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” said Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, even as he celebrated Republican pickups in the House of Representatives. Apparently, the same ballots that may be fraudulent at the presidential level are fine a few lines farther down, where Republicans are winning more of them.
Attorney General Bill Barr, who has repeated the president’s lies that absentee ballots were a source of widespread voter fraud, authorized the Justice Department to look into “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities. In response, the department official who oversees voter-fraud investigations stepped down.
On Monday, Mr. McConnell snidely remarked, “Let’s not have any lectures about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election.”
Oh, please. Hillary Clinton conceded the 2016 election less than 24 hours after polls closed, even though Mr. Trump had barely eked out wins in three decisive swing states and was trailing badly in the popular vote. So did other top Democrats, including, crucially, President Barack Obama, who called Mr. Trump before sunrise to congratulate him and to “invite him to come to the White House tomorrow to talk about making sure that there is a successful transition between our presidencies.”
This is what you do when you lose an election. Republicans still howled in outrage because Mrs. Clinton had dared to hold off conceding on election night itself.
It is now one full week after Election Day 2020. Joe Biden has prevailed in the Electoral College by a margin that, if current leads hold, will be identical to Donald Trump’s in 2016. When the counting is complete, his popular-vote margin could be twice as big as Hillary Clinton’s.
And yet with painfully few exceptions, Republicans are silent. No congratulations to Mr. Biden and his running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. No concessions. No acknowledgment that any world exists beyond their fantasy one in which only Republicans may rule. Instead we hear endless droning about “voting irregularities” or “fraud” or whatever euphemism Republicans have agreed on this year to describe Black and brown people voting in large numbers.
By the way, for a party that professes to care so much about election integrity, Republicans have an odd way of showing it. Democrats have tried to pass multiple measures enhancing election security in recent years, some with bipartisan support. Mitch McConnell keeps blocking them, or being stingy with funding.
Of course any election irregularities should be brought to light, if they exist. But what Republicans have brought forth instead is a slurry of unverified allegations and flat-out bogus claims racing around social media, and filing lawsuits that would be sanctionable under normal circumstances. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said, “Philadelphia elections are as crooked as a snake,” without offering any evidence. The new generation of Republican leaders preach and preen about how only “legal” votes should be counted, as though they have discovered some long-lost secret rather than a mundane fact about all elections.
The truth is that Republicans have conditioned themselves to refuse to accept that they could lose despite, or precisely because of, all the built-in structural advantages they currently enjoy, like the Senate and the Electoral College.
Speaking of those advantages, do you hear any Democrats saying that the Senate was “stolen,” even though their minority has consistently represented many millions more Americans than the Republicans’ majority? Instead, after a disappointing election night, they regrouped and said, we have to get out the vote and win those two runoffs in Georgia. That’s what you do in a democracy.
Sure, Democrats are mad at Mr. Trump and opposed to his presidency — not only because he lost the popular vote by so much, but because he was and remains so manifestly unfit to hold the office, as many top Republicans used to say themselves.
One of the countless measures of Mr. Trump’s unfitness is his willingness to accept or even solicit foreign interference to win. That is why, if there was any cheating in the 2020 election, it was committed by the president himself, when he tried to extort a foreign nation to gin up dirt on Mr. Biden and his son Hunter. For this high crime he was impeached by the House of Representatives. To be clear, that impeachment was not the result of Democrats’ refusal to accept his legitimacy to govern; it was a result of his decision to squander that legitimacy yet again by behaving like a strongman.
But the bigger picture here is the decades-long descent of the Republican Party which now prefers conspiracy theories over facts, magical thinking over science and delegitimizing its political opponents over substantive and responsible governance. Just a few recent examples: The racist birther slurs that Mr. Trump spearheaded against Mr. Obama; the reflexive opposition to everything Mr. Obama tried to do, even before he took office; the blanket denial of his appointment of federal judges, culminating in the theft of a Supreme Court vacancy that arose nearly a year before he left office; and finally, the seating of Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee only days before an election that he lost fair and square.
Republicans have been working tirelessly to make voting harder for many years, and especially this year, for precisely this reason. They knew that Mr. Trump was unpopular and that Mr. Biden would probably win if more people voted. When voter suppression failed, they had only two options: accept their fate like serious and responsible people do, or claim that any loss they suffered was by definition the result of fraud.
Once again, they picked door number two. This is the problem with getting comfortable with the perks of minority rule, as Republicans have over the past several decades. It’s not just that you can ignore what most Americans want. It’s that you genuinely believe that there’s no way your opponent can win — much less by an absolute majority — without cheating.
That attitude is fatal to a democracy, the survival of which depends, above all, on the loser accepting the results. The Democrats, along with most of the rest of the world, understand this. One party alone is responsible for dragging the nation to this perilous place.
Conservative columnist Brett Stevens says The Conservative Movement Needs a Reckoning (which voters failed to deliver this year, despite a pandemic and a depression).
Liberal columnist Kevin Drum says The Republican Party Needs To Be Razed and the Earth Salted Behind It.
Something has to change, and soon.