Let’s dispense with this notion that the election is rigged, shall we? First, US elections are held in public places, in open rooms, in plain view of all assembled. No back rooms, no secret doors or hallways. Ordinary citizens, not government bureaucrats, serve as election officials and conduct the election. They check in voters, confirm IDs, keep records.Laws require these election officials to be Republicans and Democrats, drawn from lists provided by local political parties. Laws also permit parties and candidates to place watchers in each polling place to stand over the election officials and monitor them as they work.
Political parties can (and should) train their watchers so they understand how the election is supposed to be conducted. Watchers can challenge the conduct of the election by pointing out errors and irregularities to election officials and asking to have them corrected. If election officials refuse to correct errors, party lawyers are standing by to intercede with state election administrators and courts if necessary.
Our elections are conducted on equipment that has been tested, in a public proceeding, that is observed by party and candidate representatives. Following testing, voting equipment is locked and sealed, then equipment keys are locked and sealed separately. Voting machines are equipped with multiple interconnected counters that make it impossible to add or remove votes secretly. Candidate and party representatives get to observe and cross-check those counters at testing, before polls open and after they close.
When voting is complete, election officials count votes and tally results. Candidate and party representatives observe this process, too. Then, following the election, there is a public canvass at which the results are redetermined, to make sure that we got it right. The canvass is a public proceeding that is conducted by the same ordinary citizens who ran the election, both Republicans and Democrats. And just as on Election Day, candidate/party representatives can observe the work of canvass officials, object to errors and improper procedures.
Throughout the election, officials keep detailed records – who voted, where, when and how, and how many people voted overall. After the election, these records are open to public inspection. Anyone who knows what they’re doing can reconstruct the election.
There is human error in every election – a lot of it, actually. But our election laws anticipate it and are designed to catch and fix it. There is attempted cheating too – and some very small fraction of it probably succeeds. That’s why laws permit party watchers.
But the election is not rigged. To rig an election, you would need:
- (1) technological capabilities that might exist only in Mission Impossible movies;
- plus (2) the cooperation of the Republicans and Democrats who are serving as a precinct’s election officials;
- plus (3) the blind eyes of Republican and Democratic poll watchers;
- plus (4) the cooperation of another set of Republicans and Democrats – the officials at the post-election canvass;
- plus (5) the blind eyes of their watchers.
Then you’d still have to trick lawyers, operatives and election administrators, who are scrubbing precinct-level returns for aberrant election results.
So any candidate who implies that his/her followers need to take the law into their own hands on Election Day is horribly manipulating them inciting them to disrupt the election, setting them up to break laws and be arrested. Which may be exactly what he/she wants.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t watch the election. We absolutely should. But watching means signing up, getting trained, understanding the election process and conducting yourself appropriately on Election Day.
Watching doesn’t mean loitering menacingly in and around a polling place. That’s not poll watching, that’s voter intimidation.
Republican leaders and lawyers should speak out against this fantastical nonsense. In addition to undermining public faith and confidence in our electoral system, which is foundational to the legitimacy of our government, it is undermining legitimate efforts to recruit and train watchers to observe this election to ensure that it is free, open, fair and honest.
Via. Trump needs to stop lying. And his supporters need to be the ones to tell him so.