More about election fraud

When Richard J. Daley was mayor of Chicago, his workers had a strategy on election day. As vote totals were announced, they would withhold the counts from some precincts in the city, waiting to see how many Republican votes had been cast in the rest of Illinois (what Chicagoans call “downstate”). They would then know how many ballots to report so that the Democratic Party would win the statewide election. Most notoriously, this practice allowed John Kennedy to receive the electoral votes of Illinois in 1960. Richard Nixon knew that vote fraud had been committed in Chicago and other places. He chose not to challenge the election in court, figuring that such a challenge would be bad for the United States. Eight years later, Nixon finally was elected President.

The appearance that Daley’s method has been imitated this year in Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and other Democratic strongholds is strong. President Trump has already accused the Democrats of cheating. Court cases have been filed. If the President and his lawyers have clear and convincing evidence of fraud, they should pursue these cases. It would be convenient if someone were to confess to filling out dozens or hundreds of ballots before or during or after the election. Next best is if people in these cities have seen others filling out multiple ballots. No judge is going to disqualify ballots and reverse the election results without compelling evidence of fraud. Suspicion alone is not enough. Proof must be presented in the courtroom; presumably, the President’s lawyers are gathering that evidence.

American courts traditionally are reluctant to take part in political struggles over elections. The election of 2000 was an exception, as the Supreme Court placed a limit on the time State of Florida officials could spend examining and recounting ballots. After that deadline passed, some journalists provided funds to continue the recount. In the end, more votes in Florida were cast for Bush than for Gore, so the Supreme Court’s intervention did not overturn the election results. (This does not stop some Democrats, even twenty years later, from insisting that the election was stolen by the Court.)

If a court decision identifies and excludes fraudulent ballots, changing the outcome of the election that has been reported this week, no doubt there will be an outcry and demonstrations in the streets. That likelihood should have no influence on any judge’s decision. The rest of us, though, should be aware and prepared, even as many business owners prepared for violence election night, speculating that President Trump might be declared the winner in spite of all the polls and prognostications that said that Vice President Biden and the Democrats would win by a landslide.

In 1876, the election was close, and three states had two groups of electors, one supporting Republican Hayes and one supporting Democrat Tilden. Instead of taking the case into the courts, leaders of both parties met and worked out a compromise. Hayes received the support of the compromise and became President. Democrats were granted political power in the southern states, power that had previously been denied them because of their part in the Civil War. When the pre-war officials regained their power, Reconstruction effectively ended. African Americans were disenfranchised and civil rights were denied. This situation lasted several generations, and its repercussions have not yet ended in the United States.

I cannot imagine any compromise that would satisfy the Republicans and the Democrats of 2020. The current question that must be answered is whether evidence—clear and convincing evidence—proves massive vote fraud that changed the election results. Americans must trust the judicial branch of the government to perform its duties in the balance of powers, defending what is right and striking down what is wrong. The Constitution will survive this crisis as it has survived crises in the past. America remains strong enough to weather this storm. J.

Reducing election fraud

The current delay in counting votes in this week’s election has many Americans wishing for a better way. Surely the process can be improved to guarantee that every vote counts but that fraud and deceit are prevented.

When the Constitution was written, a system of checks and balances was established to limit governmental power. One of those checks and balances is called “federalism”: some aspects of our government are centralized (military, foreign affairs, printing money) but many are divided among smaller jurisdictions—states, counties, and municipalities. Local leaders often make better decisions than can be made by a central government. Methods of voting have always been determined on a local level rather than by the national government.

The growth of national government in replacing local decision-making is one of the important tensions in American history. Many concerns that were once local now have national guidance, including police protection, highways, and public education. According to an old political adage, once you allow a camel to stick its nose into the tent, the rest of the camel is sure to follow. For this reason, wiser minds prefer not to allow federal guidelines and regulations to control voting throughout the United States.

If not for that caveat, though, some guidelines might be in order. Namely:

  • Ballots should only be mailed to voters who request ballots by mail; no government should mail ballots to all registered voters.
  • A clear and reliable method of identifying voters should be in place to reduce election fraud through identity theft.
  • While votes should be counted only on election day, those who oversee the vote should be allowed and encouraged to process early votes and mail-in votes to speed the counting of those votes on election day.
  • Poll watchers from both political parties—as well as watchers not affiliated with either party—should be present whenever ballots are processed and counted, and they should be well-trained to observe, to document any inappropriate activities, and to report such inappropriate activities to the proper authorities.

Elections will continue to be close and will continue to evoke strong emotions in many people. Cheaters are still going to find ways to cheat. While the judicial branch has historically removed itself from the electoral process (another check and balance from the Constitution), inevitably judges will need to decide cases where cheating appears to have happened. A more uniform way of conducting elections might reduce opportunities for election fraud. J.

The benefits of gridlock in government

The writers of the United States Constitution did not want a national government that would work quickly and efficiently. They chose instead to build a government with checks and balances that would limit the power of the government and slow its ability to interfere in the lives of American citizens.

Therefore, they divided the government into three branches: a legislative branch that can make laws but has no ability to enforce laws, an executive branch that enforces laws but does not make or overturn laws, and a judicial branch that interprets and applies laws and that can overturn laws—but only when asked to do so by one or more citizens. The legislative branch is further checked and balanced by two houses which must agree with each other to pass a law. In the Senate, each state is equally represented; but in the House, states are represented proportionally. Members of the House must seek reelection every two years, so its members are focused on short term problems and interests. Members of the Senate hold terms of six years, so they can take a longer view of things. Potentially, the entire House could be changed in one election, but a minimum of two-thirds of the Senators would still be in the Senate after such an election.

Even when the President and the majority of both houses of Congress come from the same political party, the President and Congress maintain an adversarial relationship because of their different powers and concerns. During the past seventy-two years, American voters have frequently chosen to have the President come from one political party while the majority of at least one house of Congress represents the opposition party. When Congress convenes in January, the country will be in that situation again, as President Trump comes from the Republican Party while the majority of the House of Representatives—chosen by this week’s election—come from the Democratic Party.

What does this mean for the government of the United States over the next two years? The best-case scenario is that Democrats and Republicans—including President Trump—learn to communicate and to compromise, working together for the good of the country and pleasing Americans of various political viewpoints. Given human nature, a more likely scenario is that both sides experience frustration, unable to accomplish their goals. Given their desire for limited government, the framers of the Constitution would likely prefer the second scenario.

On the other hand, President Trump thrives on conflict. The more grief the Democratic members of the House try to cause him, the more he will rattle their chains in return. Already in the first half of his term, President Trump has been able to demonstrate that he has tried to keep his campaign promises but Congress and the courts have hindered him. We can expect the President to continue to act as he has been acting for the past two years. The dire consequences that his opponents in politics and among news reporters have been predicting have not come close to happening. For the next two years, we can expect much of the same results.

The Democrats in Congress would be foolish to attempt an impeachment of President Trump during the next two years. No matter what evidence they uncover, they are unlikely to find enough to convince two thirds of the Senate to remove him from office. Meanwhile, the time and energy spent on that useless venture would be time and energy not spent on seeking their other goals. For that they would suffer in the 2020 election. Their best ploy is to seek to compromise with the President and give him the option of working with them or spurning them. In either case, they would gain more from a posture of compromise than they can ever gain from continual opposition. J.