By Alex Wyckoff
Source: AP News
In his four years as the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump has reportedly told over 25,000 lies, a figure that the Washington Post contends is actually a low estimate because the frequency of his lying has made it impossible for fact checkers to keep up. Now, with a new administration just a few weeks out, Mr. Trump has chosen to end his Presidency with a new batch of lies, this time concerning the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. This article was written for the purpose of setting the record straight on the validity of the 2020 election and to debunk conspiracy theories that have arisen without evidence.
The election was plagued by mass voter fraud
Voter fraud, the idea that certain votes were cast illegally, can be broken down into a few different types of fraud.
Impersonation fraud, where someone impersonates and votes as another person, is one of the rarest. A series of studies over more than a decade found that from 2000-2014, there were only 31 credible allegations of impersonation fraud out of over a billion ballots cast. Even then, this number is inflated because the study counted all allegations, not just the ones that were proven or resulted in legal action.
Double voting, where someone votes more than once, was also found to be extremely rare. According to the Brennan Center, which aggregated over a dozen studies to establish its figure on double voting, the rate of credible double voting allegations in the 2012 election was 0.02% at its highest estimate, though this figure includes all allegations rather than discounting those that were verified to be unfraudulent. If we were to apply this number as is to the 2020 election, where approximately 147 million ballots were cast, we’d have just under 30,000 instances of double voting nationwide. Even if this were not a nationwide statistic and you could apply that 30,000 to any individual swing state, enough of those swing states would remain consistently in favor of President-elect Biden and give him the election anyway.
That said, when you actually aggregate all of the types of fraud, studies conducted by universities, media, state governments, and even the federal government have all found that the actual rate of voter fraud in the United States is somewhere around 0.0025% at its highest. Apply that to the 2020 election and that number comes out to just over 3600 fraudulent voters. That said, that number too is inflated. Voter fraud incidences are something closer to .0009% Even the Heritage Foundation, which generally sides with Mr. Trump and claims that voter fraud is rampant, were themselves able to demonstrate only 1071 instances of voter fraud. Whether you utilize the 3000 number or the 1000 number, this isn’t enough to significantly affect any of the swing states won by Mr. Biden, let alone flip one swing state or flip the entire election.
Mail-in voting is less secure than absentee voting
It is not because the verification process is the same.
In fact, mail-in voting is very secure. There are a number of requirements across all 50 states plus Washington D.C., including a requirement of a voter signature on a sworn statement or affidavit, personal information such as a driver’s license number or birth date, and a verification of identity via signature match. Furthermore, Trump’s own Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, openly said that the United States Postal Service was “fully capable” of handling the increased load of mail votes due to the coronavirus.
Mr. Trump himself instituted a commission to study voter fraud in the United States for over a year in preparation for the run-up to the 2020 election. That commission, dominated by Trump loyalists, found so little evidence that the President disbanded them without a final report.
The Heritage Foundation, which has claimed for years that there is rampant voter fraud, also studied mail-in voting. They investigated 19 years of elections in Oregon, a state which votes exclusively by mail, and found only 15 instances of mail-in voter fraud over that time period. That same study examined Colorado from 2005-2018, Hawaii from 1982-2016, and Washington from 2004-2010. They found 14 instances of voter fraud in Colorado, 2 in Hawaii, and 12 in Washington.
Voter fraud, in other words, is so inconsequential that it is inconceivable for it to alter an election.
Voting machines from Venezuela shifted the election for Biden
Mr. Trump’s legal team, including Ms. Sidney Powell and Mr. Rudy Giuliani, have falsely claimed that Venezuelan machines have switched or discounted millions of votes for Mr. Trump. The affidavit produced by Ms. Powell, however, pertains not to the U.S. election in 2020 but to the Venezuelan election in 2013. Ms. Powell claims that the companies Smartmatic and Dominion are responsible for this supposed fraud, but Smartmatic was not used in any of the states where President Trump is alleging voter fraud, nor was it used in any swing states. In fact, Smartmatic ceased operations in Venezuela in 2018. Smartmatic also does not, as Mr. Trump has claimed, own Dominion. In Georgia, where Dominion is used, Republican state officials commissioned a voting audit where they hand tabulated all of the votes to confirm the veracity of the machine’s counting. That audit found the machine to be accurate, and the count by hand affirmed Mr. Biden’s win. Though they found 5800 votes that had gone uncounted due to late arrivals or systematic errors, only 1400 of those uncounted votes went to Mr. Trump, indicating that even had they been counted the result is not affected. Mr. Biden was actually the one to lose out by not having these votes counted. This number, however, is well within calculated margin of error for when a state is called and certified for a candidate. This process is how it was done in 2016, 2012, and so on, and there has not been a problem in any of these elections.
Trump’s lawsuits offer a path to victory
They do not. Let’s forget for a moment that Mr. Trump has already lost in over two dozen lawsuits. When you examine the court cases, you will find that Mr. Trump’s lawyers aren’t even alleging mass voter fraud.
In Pennsylvania, Mr. Giuliani admitted the case he was pursuing was not one of fraud. Another Trump lawyer, Mr. Jonathan Goldstein, disputed 592 ballots but admitted that he was not alleging any were fraudulent. He was alleging only that some were missing dates or birth dates. In fact, none of the Pennsylvania lawsuits even allege wrongdoing or misconduct at all. Their sole goal is to throw out ballots that have minor inconsistencies. That total amounts to a few hundred, not even close to the number needed to overturn Mr. Biden’s win by over 70,000 votes.
In Arizona, where Trump alleges fraud and voting machine hacking, his own lawyer, Kory Langhofer, admitted that, “We are not alleging fraud in this lawsuit. We are not alleging anyone stealing the election.”
In Nevada and other states, the Trump campaign has alleged that their observers were not allowed into polling places. In court, however, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have verified that observers were in fact allowed into observation rooms.
In short, even if every single one of Mr. Trump’s lawsuits were to succeed, the President’s defeat at the hands of Mr. Biden would still stand.
The only where there could be some degree of overturning in court would be if Pennsylvania authorities were mere servants to Mr. Trump, who without evidence or reason has simply asked Pennsylvania courts and lawmakers to throw out the election or just hand him the electors. Let’s reiterate that. Mr. Trump has openly asked Pennsylvania to give him the win even though he did not earn it and does not claim in court that he did. He is simply asking for an overturning of the democratic process.
State legislatures can still give Trump the election
This is not true. It is certainly possible for the state legislature to choose the electors in an election. However, that is a determination they must make by a deadline. That deadline is the morning of election day, before any votes are counted. If they do not indicate that this is how they will do it, then the existing law, which assigns electors in every state based on the popular vote in that state, will prevail. Even if they tried to get it done on the morning of election day, that is unlikely, as they would in fact need to amend state laws entirely. This is unlikely to make it past most governors, who would almost certainly lose reelection if they made such an allowance in an election year, and it is unlikely even to pass most state legislatures, let alone just before the election itself.
That said, because no such attempt was made, the electors will be assigned by popular vote. Although Mr. Trump has reportedly asked Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, to interfere on his behalf, the governor has not made any conclusive statements on the matter. He does not in fact have the legal power to change the election results. This is especially the case now that Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State and governor have certified the results of the election.
Mr. Trump has asked Michigan state officials to meet with him to discuss the election, though what power they have to overturn the results is dubious at best and it is far more likely that there is nothing they can do. This direct overture by the President, however, is illegal, and if the Michigan legislature made any attempt to overturn the election, they would be prosecuted. Perhaps Mr. Trump will offer them a pardon, though the President cannot shield them from state-level prosecution should they break the law to make a deal with him.
Some claims exist that voters were given sharpies to vote with in Arizona’s Maricopa county and perhaps a few other places, but there is no evidence of this. Additionally, if one really were trying to interfere on Mr. Biden’s behalf, not only would there be no way of evaluating whom to give sharpies to, but use of sharpies wouldn’t actually impact the ballots.
In the event a ballot stopped because of the implement used, however, there are security measures in place so that the ballot can still be counted.
Mail-in votes favored Biden
This is true. Mr. Biden won mail-in votes 3 to 4 whereas Mr. Trump won in-person votes 2 to 3. Yet this is not an issue of fraud at all. Mr. Trump spent months this year casting doubt on mail-in voting and encouraging his supporters not to vote by mail. As a result, a majority of Republicans, 71% to be precise, said they would not be voting by mail. This is a significant change because ordinarily far more Republicans vote by mail due to the Republican base having a larger proportion of senior citizens for whom casting a ballot by mail is easier and more accessible. This year, Democrats overwhelmingly chose to vote by mail at the behest of Mr. Biden.
While mail-in votes certainly favored Mr. Biden this year, it is not because of some conspiracy, but is a direct result of the diametrically contrasting messages given by the two candidates.
Mr. Trump’s own security officials referred to the 2020 election as the most secure in American history. His own lawyers, political appointees, and government have all repeatedly repudiated his claims of fraud. Forget widespread voter fraud, they can’t even prove small amounts of fraud. Even the President’s Attorney General, William Barr, and his Department of Justice and his intelligence agencies have all repudiated his efforts.
The key difference, then, between this election and the ones before it is simply that security measures were increased due to fears of election interference from Russia or other countries.
This means that, beyond the election being more secure than it has ever been, the procedures have been consistent with the ones that handed Mr. Trump his 2016 win, a win wherein he did not claim or suspect fraud at all, and where conservative lawmakers lambasted Democrats for talk of Russian interference and refusing to accept the election results despite the U.S. intelligence committee demonstrating far more substantial evidence than Mr. Trump has brought to bear in 2020.
The truth is, if you accepted the legality of the 2016 election, then you have no ground to stand on for rejecting the legality of the 2020 election. It is a fact that Mr. Biden won the 2020 Presidential election and that he did so using the same procedures we have used to certify our previous elections. Mr. Trump has pushed baseless and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories for months now. When asked to provide evidence, he and his team have claimed to have an overwhelming amount of it, and yet have produced nothing substantial or even warranting investigation. They have failed to meet even the most basic burdens of proof, especially in court.
At this point it should become obvious that Mr. Trump is dangerous. He is sewing doubt in well tested democratic institutions and in democracy itself. Simultaneously his refusal to concede has created national security risks, impeded efforts at combating COVID-19, and will lead to a government in tatters when the new administration comes in on Jan. 20, 2021. In dragging other Republican lawmakers into his delusions, he has ensured that the Republican Party ceases to be a party that operates on policies but rather has transformed it into a cult centered around a single, individual personality: himself. There is now only one Republican policy: Donald J. Trump.
For the sake of this country’s continued existence it is imperative that Republican lawmakers in Congress cease to humor Mr. Trump in his baseless, frankly childish outbursts. This is not just a temper tantrum, but an existential threat to the United States of America.
Alex Wyckoff is a community organizer and former employee of the California Democratic Party. He is currently a second year graduate student studying public policy at UC San Diego with a focus in security policy and social inequality.