I: The Set-Up
Last night’s Presidential debate saw something of a high water mark with respect to claims of some sort of fraud, or rigging, or fixing, or otherwise manipulating the results of the Presidential election that will occur on November 8, 2016. Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee, equivocated regarding whether he would accept the results of the election were he to lose (as seems likely to happen).
The morning-after response, even from his fellow Republicans, his own campaign manager, and his own daughter, has been to either attempt to walk that remark back or to distance oneself from it.1
Which is only appropriate: as no shortage of people have pointed out, the peaceful transition of power and acceptance of government hinges upon the willingness of the losers of an election to accept the legitimacy of its outcome. Questions about the legitimacy of our elections in a nation with democratic traditions as strong as ours should be taken with sobriety, skepticism, and gravity. It’s no wonder that so many people on the conservative side of our political spectrum are cautious here: they don’t want violence and they want there to be a government for them to have political power within, one day in the future when their fortunes improve (as everyone knows inevitably will happen).
Besides, this is a worm that can turn on a moment’s notice.
Mr. Trump himself, however, seems to be drawn as if impelled by magnetic force towards espousing wild-eyed conspiracy theories based upon flimsy evidence and to rely upon questionable sources taken from the same stock that has already ornamented our political discourse with the likes of Alex Jones and Glenn Beck. In particular, I note a number of Trump supporters (whether they be true Trumpeters or members of the #HillaryIsWorse partisan crowd) pointing to something called #ProjectVeritas, championed most prominently by the I-kind-of-respected-him-until-recently conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt:
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) October 20, 2016
A moment’s investigation of #ProjectVeritas reveals it to presently consist of four heavily-edited videos created by a man named James O’Keefe. Mr. O’Keefe has established a significant lack of credibility with other politically inflammatory videos. He made a sensation in 2009, play-acting as an outrageously dressed pimp and manipulating interviews he recorded while thus in costume to falsely make it look like organizers of the grassroots voter-registration and community-organization group ACORN were assisting in the formation of a brothel. With a female associate, he also surreptitiously taped interviews with Planned Parenthood leaders and then edited them to create the misleading impression that they were encouraging abortions to sell fetal tissue for profit. This #ProjectVeritas business appears to be similar to this now-established M.O., presenting heavily-edited “undercover” videos purportedly exposing Democrats perpetrating electoral fraud.
So right away, this is a pretty questionable source of information, and it’s advancing a theory that, on its face, seems pretty implausible. Let us then consider, thinking critically, whether that seeming implausibility holds up to thought. Remember, as with any other thought experiment, we can reach issues of possibility and plausibility, but we can’t actually prove anything without actual evidence. I can only, therefore, propose a rubric by which one might address the plausibility of these claims and assess the weight one ought to assign to them.
II: Reverse-Engineering Criminal Enterprises
Many forms of electoral fraud are crimes. It’s clear enough that Trump implies some kind of criminal activity, although the phrasing is vague and imprecise enough that there’s wiggle room for most people engaged in this flavor of Trump-talk to deny, evade, or otherwise avoid being accused of accusing others of crimes without evidence. I see repeated in many places the claim that there is very little evidence of any sort of systematic voter fraud, and there are only a few hundred cases of voter fraud documented in recent years, out of hundreds of millions of votes cast. Yet somewhat more partisan sources insist that no, voter fraud is indeed a rampant problem.
Let us at least begin thinking about this by conceding that there are at least as many ways to manipulate election results in Republicans’ favor as there are in Democrats’, and that, historically, neither major party is remotely close to being totally without fault. From there, let us consider the crime of electoral fraud as just that: a crime. For certain species of electoral fraud are crimes, in every jurisdiction of the United States.
When confronting claims of criminal activity or indeed nearly anything else, available information must be gathered and constructed in a way that makes some sort of sense in order to understand what’s being presented. Some call this “forming a narrative.” Or we might use the word “hypothesis” instead of “narrative.” Some sort of intellectual superstructure is used, though, and with crimes, the model most often used by police and prosecutors is a triptych with the enjoyable acronym MMA: a criminal must have motive, method, and ability to commit a crime.2 In this way is crime rationally understood by the non-criminal; this provides a useful intellectual tool to detect, test, and prove theories of crimes.
Does Hillary Clinton (or in the alternative does her network of surrogates and agents) have motive, means, and ability to rig the 2016 Presidential election?
II-A: The Motive
The “why” of this accusation seems easy enough: if you are going to commit electoral fraud, it’s because you want your side to win.
This begs the question: are you going to win anyway? Uncertainty alone is probably all we need here. If it’s not clear that you are going to win fair and square, then you might be tempted to go to the bag of dirty tricks and “help” the voters make the “better” decision. Someone who is polling at or near 50% might very plausibly think here is a good reason to cheat.
Does this make sense in the 2016 Presidential election? Functionally every poll suggests that Clinton is leading by about seven percentage points, which is above the margin by which she needs to care very much about the Electoral College.
But this hasn’t always been the case. There was even a brief moment, about three days back at the end of July and beginning of August of this year, that Trump was actually leading in the polls, if only by a small amount. So there may well have been a time that Clinton felt a credible fear of losing. It’s not wholly implausible that she might have mobilized her Dirty Tricks Squad then.
What’s more, even if you think that in a fair election, you’d win anyway, you might be tempted to fix the election in advance, for at least three reasons that seem plausible. First, you might have an advantage in a fair election but there could be something that goes wrong at the last minute that causes you to lose that advantage, like a late-breaking scandal. Second, you might rig the election to counteract and effectively neutralize any fixing of the results that the other side might be doing. Third, you might not need the rigging this time, but you still need to exercise and maintain the machinery of manipulation so that it’s going to be there for you in a hypothetical future election where things might be less favorable to you.
So is there motive? Yes, at least at the thought experiment level, we can plausibly posit motive — even if events have since mooted that motive.
II-B: The Method
So. You’ve decided to rig the election. You must now confront the issue of how to do it.3
Reverse-engineering the process from goal to method reveals that the goal here is the production of a ballot return that puts the cheating partisan in office and excludes the opposing partisan from office. That is the desired end state. So the indispensable thing that must be controlled is the content of the ballot return. Your partisan must be reported as having received more votes than the opponent. One method, of course, would be to play it fair, and hope that the voters do exactly that. We’ve determined at the motive phase, though, that this is insufficient and cheating is necessary.
Historically, ways of pressing the vote count in one’s favor include the following techniques:
- Impersonation of registered voters by partisans (including via absentee or mail-in ballots). Thus, additional votes for the partisan enter the ballot box.
- Manipulation of voter registration rolls to facilitate impersonation (e.g., “dead voters” and “my dog is voting too”). Again, more votes for the partisan.
- Ballot box stuffing or misreporting of actual returns (including alteration of electronically reported vote counts).
- Disenfranchisement of voters by opposing partisans (including physical intimidation of voters at the polling place, turning voters away from polling places, and deception to prevent proper votes from being cast). Here, it’s a little different — fewer votes for the opponent gets you to the same place.
- Deceptive campaigning (e.g., distributing unflattering campaign literature falsely purporting to be from the opposing partisan — note that this is not speaking in one’s own voice but not telling the truth about an opposing partisan: that’s thought within the realm of “fair play” or at least “free speech”). Again, depress the opponent’s vote count.
- Purchasing of, or extortion of, favorable votes (offering an inducement, whether favorable or unfavorable, to a voter casting an honest-seeming ballot in a particular way).
This sort of thing is certainly what’s implied by the accusations of “rigging the election.” We are given to understand that all over the country, whatever the “natural” results of the election might be will be skewed such that there will be more Clinton votes than Trump votes. The exact mechanics are more than a little bit murky, but Trump’s claim that there are “millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote” points pretty strongly at ballot box stuffing or impersonation of fictitious registered voters.
If this is the means of choice, then that means that voter registration rolls are going to show more registrants who are not actual people in the district, and someone is going to cast ballots on behalf of those fictitious registered voters. The vision is of Clinton minions filling out hundreds of registration forms, precinct by precinct, with fake names, fake addresses, and then sending in absentee ballots filled out in Clinton’s favor, or sending live people impersonating those fake voters to the precincts where they will cast ballots. N.b., this also assumes that there are no Trump minions doing the same thing, or if there are, that the Trump minions are not as good at it as the Clinton minions.
Technically, we should note that the candidate herself need not even know that this is happening. It’s possible that she thinks, in good faith, that her minions are doing appropriate sorts of campaign activities (knocking on doors, passing out flyers, making phone calls, stuffing envelopes) while some nefarious and unscrupulous underling is actually directing this.
Has this ever happened in America? Of course; I’m not even going to search for examples. A better question would be: has it happened recently? Can someone show me an example of actual ballot box stuffing, taking place on a large enough scale to alter the outcome of a significant election? That’s what the comments section is for.
It does mean that someone has to be controlling or directing this if it’s going to be done in an effective way. After all, stuffing the ballot box in Massachusetts isn’t going to do Clinton a damn bit of good — she can win Massachusetts fair and square without even trying. It’s possible that you don’t need to do a whole lot of cheating, and you just need to cheat where it counts. Specifically, in the swing states (or, if you prefer, states that were thought to be swing states when the decision to cheat was made) of Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.4 States where the margin is likely to be close. Less cheating will go farther there, states that made the difference in recent past elections.
Finally, consider the fact that the electoral fraudster must devise a method of stuffing the ballot box that avoids detection. Republicans and nonpartisan election law enforcement alike are going to be looking for fraud, albeit for slightly different reasons. If the ballot-box stuffing is detected, the enterprise collapses. Therefore, the fake voters must vote in areas and by ways that will appear plausible, in ways that will be difficult for skeptics and challengers to call out.
So the way to go is to find jurisdictions where it would seem likely that Democrats were going to vote in large numbers anyway, within swing states, and there pump up the voter registration rolls. Then, have as many of them as possible vote by absentee ballot so as to not have to risk sending an in-person minion to an actual polling place and maybe get caught impersonating a fake or a a dead voter.
Alternatively, of course, electronic voting can be subverted. I see two ways to go about doing that. First, you can bribe or otherwise induce the company that manufactures and administered the electronic voting machines to programming them to electronically stuff the returns. Or second, you might get a hacker to break into the voting systems somehow and turn in the returns you want. Manufacturer corruption makes some sense, because it would be the hardest for an external source to detect; however, Democrats are not vulnerable to that charge while Republicans are, since the only significant manufacturers of electronic voting machines are all publicly associated with pro-Republican political activity. Also, Trump is not in a good position to complain about hackers interfering with the election. But a disputed election result called into question by purported hacking would be testable against paper ballots.
Neither of these have been what Donald Trump claims is going on: they’re worried about fake voters, not hacking.
Does the Clinton campaign have the capability to stuff ballot boxes in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania?
In Colorado, elections are generally overseen by the Secretary of State. Colorado’s Secretary of State is Wayne Williams, a Republican. Elections are administered at the hands-on level by sixty-four different County Clerks. Most of them are Republicans also. Roughly a third of them voted for Barack Obama in 2012. Those would be the counties that have the rotten precincts. Registration and obtaining absentee ballots in Colorado is fairly easy, but absentee voters who are casting their first ballot by mail after registration must include a photocopy of some form of identification with their ballot. Ballots are cast entirely on paper and delivered through the mail.
Florida’s elections have a similar structure: its secretary of state, Ken Detzner, is a Republican and an appointee of Florida’s Republican Governor. But the nuts and bolts of elections are handled at the county level by the various clerks of the sixty-seven counties. Only thirteen of those counties voted for Obama in 2012, although there may be a few others that were fairly close. As with Colorado, first-time registrants voting by absentee ballot must provide some form of identification, although it can consist of a utility bill instead of a driver’s license or state ID card. Florida has both paper ballots and no-record direct electronic voting; electronic votes are recorded purely electronically and no paper trail of individual votes are generated.
North Carolina’s elections are overseen by an independent state commission, consisting of five members appointed by North Carolina’s Republican Governor. Again, elections are really handled at the county level, and North Carolina has one hundred counties. Thirty of them voted for Obama in 2012, and here, the results were pretty well stratified: nearly every county was either very Republican or very Democratic (there were only a handful of exceptions). Absentee voters in North Carolina must provide a certification of some kind of identification number, like the state ID or driver’s license number, but do not need to provide an image of it. North Carolina has both paper and electronic voting; unlike Florida, its electronic votes generate a paper trail of votes cast.
Ohio’s elections are overseen by Ohio’s Secretary of State, John Husted, a Republican. (He’s vowed there will be no cheating, for what that’s worth.) who Sixteen of Ohio’s eighty-eight counties voted for Obama in 2012, all of them in urban areas. Either a copy of one’s identification or a similar verification of an identification number, as in North Carolina, must accompany a first-time absentee ballot. Ohio has both paper and electronic voting; its electronic votes generate a paper trail of votes cast.
Pennsylvania’s elections are overseen by an independent state commission, whose members appear to be civil servants. However, they work under the oversight of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Pedro Cortés, an appointee of Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. Each of Pennsylvania’s sixty-seven counties have their own independent boards of elections, and thirteen of those counties could plausibly be carried by a Democrat based on the 2012 returns. All absentee ballots must have some form of identification number, either the driver’s license or social security number of the voter, or a copy of an identification card. Pennsylvanians can vote on paper or electronically; electronic votes do not generate a paper trail.
Now, here’s a problem. Voters have to be registered as residing at a particular address in their precincts. They might elect to receive their absentee ballots in the mail at some other location, but if too many of those ballots wind up getting mailed to the same address, it becomes easy to identify that fact. So you can’t centralize the absentee ballots for the fake voters — you have to have them spread out to a bunch of different addresses, plausible, actual addresses, within the various precincts. Then you have to round them up, fill them all out, and return them.
Logistically, that’s tough. It takes money, and it takes minions to execute. The more people you involve in doing this, the more likely it is that one of them will suffer an attack of conscience and confess the fraud to the media or law enforcement. The more money is involved in doing this, the more fingerprints that will be left behind in campaign disclosure statements to be audited and discovered. That’s if you’ve been clever enough to widely distribute your absentee ballots in ways that match up to the precincts in the counties that you’ve targeted for corruption.
Hacking would be possible in Florida and Pennsylvania, because electronic ballots do not generate paper trails. Not all counties have electronic voting, however; a Democrat looking to hack in Florida would need to find precincts and counties where both a reasonable number of Democrats are likely to be voting in the first place, and a system that is vulnerable to the hacking.
It sure looks to me like it would be logistically very, very difficult to cheat at all, in any sort of intelligent way calculated to minimally evade detection, by use of absentee ballots or fake voters. It might be possible to hack into election returns and alter the reports, and I’m not really qualified to even research, much less opine upon, how hard that would be. I can see that it would likely be hard to make electronic subversion of results stick in the critical states, excepting in Pennsylvania and Florida. So shame on those states for leaving their voting systems vulnerable to that.
III: Are There Easy Alternatives to Cheating Available?
Subverting democracy at the ballot box itself is expensive, risky, and uncertain. At lower levels, there are plenty of other ways available to filter the result of elections in one’s favor. They generally aren’t even against the law. These include:
- Gerrymandering (the creation of a geographical electoral district based upon demographic or other information about the voters to pre-ordain a result favorable to a particular partisan).
- Voter registration and identification laws (the erection of legal barriers between a citizen and the franchise, with the avowed intent of preventing the impersonation of voters, but with the known-in-advance effect of depressing the number of votes cast by opposing partisans who will have difficulty satisfying these legal barriers).
- Minimization or other manipulation of the number and location of polling places to make voting difficult for opposing partisans (including last-minute “emergency polling place closures”).
- Structuring the date, time, and manner of the election to depress and control turnout (holding elections at times other than early November of even-numbered years).
- Failing the ability to elect one’s own partisans, one might also manipulate opposing partisans through bribery, blackmail, or monopolization of their campaign finances. (Failing that, one might actually bargain with them, offering them political favors in an unimportant policy arena in exchange for legislation that is important to oneself.)
These things are legal, by definition, because they happen within the realm of legislation itself, and therefore are, themselves, laws. Even a moment’s consideration indicates that these methods of manipulating elections are going to be far more effective, and far less risky, than ballot box manipulation. They are inherently legal and therefore there is no risk to using them; when done intelligently, they produce invariably favorable results; they are difficult for the opposing partisans to counteract; the public appears to tolerate them (in no small part because they are, by definition, not crimes).
At the Presidential level, gerrymandering isn’t an available tool. Registration and ID laws tend to favor Republicans. Atomized control of elections by local officials suggests that manipulation of the opening and closing time of polling places is not subject to partisan control at all; to the extent it is, it appears that vastly more local controllers of elections at the local level are Republicans than Democrats. And direct bribery or intimidation of voters just plain isn’t happening, at least that we’ve heard of.
So, we’re back to phantom voters: either the Democrats are winning fair and square, or they’re cheating. If they’re cheating, they’re doing it by stuffing the ballot box with votes from phantom voters (or so we’re told). These phantom voters are either newly registered, in which case voter ID laws will detect them even if they’re absentee voters, or they are a legacy of corrupt Democratic political machinery from elections in the recent-to-distant past.
If these phantom voters were legacies of past machining, then of course the corrupt Democrats at the levers of that machinery would use it when they had the opportunity to do so. So why is it that in these mission-critical states where those fake ballots would have the most impact — those states tend to have Republicans elected to high offices, and particularly put in positions where they control and oversee the mechanics of elections. In fact, it flies in the face of Republicans being elected to high offices in those states at all. If these Democratic machines were in place, why is it that four out of five of these states have election machinery under Republican political oversight and three out of these five states have Republican Governors and collectively have elected more Republicans to the U.S. Senate than they have Democrats?
Alternatively, all these fake registrations have been or will be filed for fake voters to cast ballots in favor of Democrats just for this election alone, too, and are therefore of recent manufacture. This won’t survive scrutiny, though: a search of voter registration rolls would reveal similarities in addresses either of registration or receipt of absentee ballot forms, and geographic patterns of registration and voting would look irregular after a while. If a rural county in central Pennsylvania with a total population of 35,000 people had only 10,000 registered voters at the start of 2016 and today, half of whom were Republicans and a third of whom were Democrats, suddenly had 20,000 more registered voters, three-quarters of whom were Democrats and who all elected to receive their absentee ballots at one of four different post office boxes in downtown Philadelphia, well, that’d be a little bit suspicious, wouldn’t it? That’s not the evidence we’re seeing at all.
So the mostly Republican officials overseeing all of this must either be a) incompetent, all of them; b) on the take, all of them; or c) just not seeing it at all because c(1)) the Democrats cheating the system are phenomenally good at it, or c(2)) it isn’t happening at all, at least not at a level worth discussing.
So we have to posit that there are just enough people out there manipulating the voter rolls to effectively tip the balance in critical areas, and not too many that they can all be trusted to keep the secret. We have to posit that they created their network of fake voters with a plausible, difficult-to-detect registration pattern, and that they are intentionally casting their fake ballots from that network of fake voters with enough votes in favor of Clinton to actually sway the result, but not so many in favor of Clinton that they look suspicious. This posits a very, very high level of sophistication and intelligence, which runs against the notion that the control and implementation group of this conspiracy is small (but, to be fair, does not exclude that notion completely).
IV: Comparison With Evidence
What, then, is the evidence? Does it fit? So far, O’Keefe offers us four videos. I’m mainly working off the description from the Snopes summary, but I did take the time to watch the most trenchant of the four videos, described below.
In video #1, we see Manhattan Board of Elections Commissioner Alan Schulkin at a December 2015 Christmas Party, purportedly talking about “busing” voters to polling places in New York City. Hillary Clinton does not now and never has needed to engage in any kind of electoral fraud in New York City. She will carry nearly all New York City precincts by convincing margins, all five boroughs of New York City by convincing margins, and all of New York State by convincing margins. These are not swing areas, and there is no motive to cheat at all here. If Commissioner Schulkin is doing some sort of political corruption at all (I offer no opinion), it must be aimed at a local rather than a national issue.
In video #2, we see video of Clinton staffers at a field office somewhere, saying lewd things and purportedly acting as bad, if not worse, than the “grab her by the p***y” comments Donald Trump uttered during his decade-old interview with Billy Bush. This does not suggest electoral corruption at all. It is a political argument that Trump’s misogyny ought to be disregarded because BSDI; it is a ploy to depress Democratic votes.
Video #3 is a surreptitious recording of Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate (and former Senator) Russ Feingold musing about President Hillary Clinton issuing some sort of executive order impacting gun rights, and describing political fallout (optimistically for Democrats). Again, this is fodder for GOTV efforts, this time to increase Republican turnout.
It’s the fourth video that is controversial: it suggests that Clinton’s field staff officers were tampering with Republican voter registrations and sending agents provocateurs to Trump rallies. It is this to which Trump referred. The “incitement of violence” issue does not go to voter corruption at all. Almost all of it is an interview at what sounds like a party (lots of alcohol is being visibly drunk) with one guy named Scott Koval, who worked for a different pro-Democratic group called “Democracy Partners,” specifically naming one partner in that group, lobbyist Robert Creamer of Chicago, as the operative. Creamer at one time held a seat on the Democratic National Committee. Some of what’s in the video sounds like just plain politics; some of it sounds like Koval expressing contempt for weak political laws or weak enforcement of rules; almost all of it sounds like it could have been induced by tricking the mark into a hypothetical conversation. Koval and Creamer and their organizations claim that they were “goaded” into those conversations.
The most damning discussion is between the O’Keefe undercover “reporter” and Creamer, discussing the ways in which one might increase voter registration in Indiana and Michigan, with what seem to be fake Hispanic employees of a dummy corporation, coupled with a discussion of renting local cars with local plates so they could drive individually to the polling places and, presumably, cast fake ballots for Clinton. Busses, you see, are too obvious. If this is the case, it would require thousands and thousands of dollars to create these fake corporations and rent all those cars, and dozens of voters to show up and follow through on both registering and then voting predicated upon the falsified paperwork.
I’m not moved by the “goading” claims, myself; the videos themselves may or may not reflect a willingness by these people to do politically corrupt things — but they aren’t congruent with the kind of political manipulation that makes sense with a meaningfully rigged Presidential election. Wisconsin has been reliably Democratic in its voting; there has always been every reason to forecast it voting for Clinton this year. Indiana has gone back and forth as Obama squeaked out a one-point win in 2008 but then lost there by more than ten points in 2012; Michigan hasn’t voted for a Republican President in decades, by convincing margins each time, and after the Flint lead-in-the-water-thing that left its Republican governor holding the bag, it’s doubtful Michigan voters would have voted for Jesus Christ himself had He been the Republican nominee this year. These simply aren’t the places where corruption is needed to swing a state to the Democrats, and it never was. Why spend all of that money, and create all of those accomplices and the associated risk, to make Michigan do what it was always going to do anyway?
Again, that doesn’t mean these political types were entirely innocent. It does suggest that we ought to think that maybe these excerpted, edited, surreptitiously recorded, and in at least one case alcohol-fueled conversations weren’t entirely about rigging the Presidential election in Clinton’s favor. They may have been about rigging other elections. They may have been about something else entirely: James O’Keefe’s track record of having twice presented out-of-context interviews as evidence of nefarious plots that weren’t actually there ought to lead us to suspect that we are seeing more of the same today, and not to just take his word for things at face value.
V: No Reason To Believe It
The theory of ballot box stuffing is already improbable enough. Given how contemporary elections are actually conducted, and who oversees them, it’s going to be very difficult to actually stuff a ballot. The means of accomplishing this crime is very difficult, and to assume the ability to actually accomplish it requires assuming also having the means to win fairly and with less effort. The MMA of this purported conspiracy to put Hillary Clinton in the White House despite the voters’ purported will to the contrary doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
The evidence comes from a source whose credibility is already highly suspect.
Even should we accept the proffered evidence at face value, it’s still not being done in the right places and the right ways to impact the Presidential election. We must infer that if they’re going it in Michigan, they’re doing it in Colorado and Florida, too.
I see no rebuttal to the charge that if the Clinton campaign were wealthy enough and wily enough and coordinated enough to engineer this sort of thing, it would then by definition already be wealthy and smart and coordinated enough to win the election fair and square.
The theory ignores the most obvious and easy way to swing a contemporary election — by hacking into and altering electronic voting records. Available evidence suggests that, if anything, Republicans are at least as likely as Democrats to resort to that sort of thing, if it is possible at all.
While we cannot, at the thought experiment level, categorically rule out the idea of the election being actually “rigged” as described in the debate, it’s an implausible enough theory, and based upon flimsy and untrustworthy enough evidence, that we can safely relegate this theory to a level of credibility on par with alien abductions, ghosts and goblins, and the Bavarian Illuminati.
Your job, Readers, is now to either take what I’ve explicated here in five thousand plus words and condense it down into a very cogent argument — “It’s far too difficult and complex to stuff a ballot box these days, and the Democrats don’t need to cheat at all, much less cheat in the places O’Keefe is telling us they’re cheating.” — or explain to me, with evidence, why I’m dangerously, foolishly, and arrogantly wrong.
Image by Internet Archive Book Images Notes:
- Note that one way this walking-back has been attempted has been to accuse the media of bias in presentation of political news, which is a different sort of charge than the kinds of actual electoral fraud discussed in the main body of this post. [↩]
- Alternatively phrased, “means, motive, and opportunity.” [↩]
- In the screenplay adaptation of Peter Schaffer’s Amadeus, Antonio Salieri confesses about the moment he decided to take his rivalry with Wolfgang Mozart to the point of murder: “The only thing that worried me was the actual killing. How does one do that, hmm? How does one kill a man? It’s one thing to dream about it; very different when… When… you! When you have to do it — with your own hands.” [↩]
- I include North Carolina here because it’s flipped between Democrats and Republicans in recent elections, and it has 14 electoral votes which puts it almost on par with Ohio’s 18. If you’re a Democrat looking to cheat your way to victory in the Electoral College, it would be a likely place to attempt that cheating. [↩]