Voter fraud: Surely not in America?

Eugene Brink says there is serious doubt about the nature of the electoral process and outcomes in that country

Voter fraud: Surely not in America?

10 November 2020

While I am writing this, the drama and aftermath of the American election on 3 November are still carrying on. President Donald Trump and many Republicans vow to fight on and expose the mounting allegations of voter fraud in places such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, whilst the mainstream media are celebrating Joe Biden as America’s 46th president.

It has been interesting to see some of the responses to claims of voter fraud. People with or without much knowledge of American politics in general or even the recent elections are quick to denounce Trump as a sore loser and fail to fathom how the American voting system could ever be skewed or fail. These are some of the same people who decried Russian interference in the 2016 election – a totally debunked theory.

‘A time-honoured tradition’

The reality is that the American electoral system, like any other, is not foolproof and even some people on the Democratic side admit this. The states all run their own counting processes and this leaves ample room for vested interests to reign supreme. Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, the consummate Democrat insider before his fall from grace, told Newsmax that election fraud in Democrat-run cities is a “time-honoured tradition”. “Coming out of the Democratic Chicago political establishment I know how they operate,” he said.

His statements chime with what has been happening in certain places and indicate that it is not confined to this election alone. According to him, Democrat-led polling places cease to count votes once their candidate is behind and in the middle of the night “the stealing starts”. Trump led comfortably in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania when the vote counting stopped and dawdled.

“We’ve seen that in big numbers, in unprecedented numbers in this election. They just want to beat Donald Trump at all costs,” he said.

Despite a court order (why was this necessary in the first place?), Republican observers in places like Pennsylvania were not allowed near the counting process. Credible data indicate dead people’s votes were tallied in that state. In Nevada, a whistle-blower swore in an affidavit that he witnessed illegitimate processing of ballots and was instructed to count mail-in ballots that did not have the requisite signatures to be eligible. Caroline Wilson, county clerk for the central Michigan county of Shiawassee, was caught when she “accidentally” added a zero to Biden’s tally to turn 15 371 votes into 153 710. A rectified “computer glitch” in Michigan eventually flipped a whole county from Biden to Trump.

Claims of election rigging and fraud have been made by various groups and individuals throughout America’s history. Professor Adam IP Smith from the University of Oxford says African-Americans protested in the 1950s and 1960s that the political system and elections were rigged against them – a very credible allegation during that time. Also, he points to the fact that the losing side in 1860 was so opposed to accepting the election’s outcome that they opted to secede and form the Confederacy – a much more severe form of opposition than having probes performed and heading to the Supreme Court.

Political scientist Lorraine Minnite also highlighted the longstanding issue of voter fraud: “Debates over election fraud are not new. They have been a staple of discussions about elections and democracy in the United States for more than a century. But in recent years, issues of fraud and voting integrity have increasingly come to the forefront of public policy discussions over the health of America’s democracy.” Emphatically, she points to the significant opposition to mail-in ballots and the loosening of guidelines for absentee ballots – two issues very pertinent in this election’s outcome.

Among her several case studies, one caught my eye. The 1997 primary mayoral election in Miami was extremely close and at the same time marred by egregious fraud and culminated in a court trial. The Circuit Court for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida noted in its decision “a pattern of fraudulent, intentional and criminal conduct” in the extensive abuse of absentee ballot laws. An expert documents examiner testified that 225 absentee ballots had forged signatures and 140 were improperly witnessed. Absentee ballots were also stolen from mailboxes. Allegations of voter fraud in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2000 eventually became the subject of an FBI investigation.

Voter fraud and election rigging are not the perquisites of Democrats. The Republicans, through various schemes and ploys, have certainly done the same – at least in the past. What is true, though, is that it has occurred at various points in US history and could very well have happened to some extent in 2020.

Electoral system in the dock

When a party or candidate wins overwhelmingly, these irregularities are not as glaring as they are in an election like this. Nobody disputes the outcome of deep-blue Massachusetts and California, or bright-red Alabama and Nebraska. Nor purplish Texas or Florida. But there are tough questions to be asked about battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and even Wisconsin.

If Twitter could suppress stories that cast a large pall over Joe and Hunter Biden’s rectitude, if the mainstream media were arrayed against Trump while treating Biden with kid gloves and the pollsters got it wrong, then the spotlight should surely be shone on the voting system itself. Al Gore was abided a 37-day legal challenge following the 2000 election, and Trump and the Republicans are well within their rights to mount a legal challenge and continue the fight based on some credible allegations. If they still come up short, they can still feel satisfied with what they have accomplished in this election. Moreover, if any irregularities are exposed, it could contribute to future electoral reform if their occurrence does not ultimately change the election’s outcome.

I am not saying there is definitely widespread election fraud, but some of the preliminary claims and information certainly warrant further investigation because they cast serious doubt on the nature of the electoral process and perhaps even the outcome. They erode trust in institutions. For Trump to simply concede under these circumstances before some of these purported irregularities are thoroughly probed, would be a disservice to 70.6 million voters who cast their ballots for him and his party. Together with other important legislative and policy issues, electoral soundness and reform should come under greater scrutiny in future.

Dr Brink is Strategic Advisor for Community Affairs at AfriForum.