Why limit yourself to the far-fetched when the utterly fantastical is an option? President Donald Trump is challenging the outcome of the Nov. 3 presidential election in several razor-thin battleground states, pushing for recounts and filing lawsuits that are very unlikely to overturn Joe Biden’s current leads. Faced with this prospect, some allies of the president are advocating, or beginning to whisper about, Republican state legislatures taking matters into their own hands and sending slates of Trump electors to Congress regardless of the vote count. This is a poisonous idea that stands out as radical and destructive, even in a year when we’ve been debating court-packing and defunding the police. The best that can be said for it is that it is almost certainly a nonstarter, which doesn’t mean that it won’t get more oxygen. Donald Trump Jr. has pushed this option and Sen. Lindsey Graham, now bonded to Trump more firmly and completely than he was to the late Sen. John McCain, says “everything should be on the table.” A conservative in the Pennsylvania House, Daryl Metcalfe, has declared, “Our Legislature must be prepared to use all constitutional authority to right the wrong.” We may be one presidential tweet away from this gambit becoming orthodoxy for much of the Republican Party.
Editorial: We Need Election Results Everyone Can Believe In. Here’s How. | Zeynep Tufekci/The New York Times
Since 2008, partisan distrust of presidential election results has been substantial. In 2016, only 43 percent of Democrats believed that the election was free and fair; now, only 30 percent of Republicans do. Each party’s supporters are more likely to believe that the vote was free and fair if they won, and those on the losing side are becoming more suspicious of the results. With a defeated president trying for weeks to overturn an election he has falsely called fraudulent, our partisan breach will be hard to repair. But electoral reform can still provide a better foundation of trust. Two decades since the 2000 Florida recount debacle revealed the shoddiness of how America votes, we should be able to provide a straightforward, sensible answer to anyone who asks, “How do you know the results are correct?” Yet, we still do not have nationwide standards and procedures to assure Americans that results are reliable. Claims of widespread fraud are false, but we can do much more to provide stronger answers to those who might want to question the process or the results. The true scandal is that we know what we need to do and have even begun to implement reforms in many states, but we have not instituted the changes nationwide.
Before U.S. elected officials (including presidents), judges, government employees, and military personnel assume their positions, they make a pledge. This shared promise is not to protect the United States’ way of life, secure its national interests, defend its sovereign territory, or even to “keep the American people safe,” as former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama often inaccurately claimed. Rather, each person undertakes a solemn oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Preserving the Constitution is the overriding obligation of all government employees, because the document serves as the supreme law of the land. The evolving text enshrines the basic rights of Americans, and the limits and expectations of the states and branches of federal government. It was designed by the Founding Fathers to supersede and endure beyond the current whims of any elected leaders, judges, or other sources of power. National security and military personnel commit to protecting the Constitution above all else, because without its preservation none of their other missions or objectives truly matter. The shared pledge to protect and defend the Constitution is worth highlighting to mark and appreciate this current national crisis for what it is: an effort led by the president to overturn the outcome of an election in which the president was a candidate. This overt undertaking is completely in character with President Donald Trump, totally unprecedented in U.S. history, and far more insidious than all the recent efforts of foreign electoral interference.
Pennsylvania: Trump Is Wrong. There’s No Evidence of Election Fraud in Philadelphia. | Nathaniel Persily and Charles Stewart III/The New York Times
Joe Biden’s lead in the presidential election results in Pennsylvania has now surpassed 81,000 votes, far exceeding Donald Trump’s 44,000-vote victory margin there four years ago. Yet the Trump campaign continues to claim in court huge but incalculable levels of fraud, particularly in Philadelphia. As with cases filed elsewhere around the country, Mr. Trump will not succeed. Even a cursory examination of the data refutes any notion of substantial voting fraud. As a threshold matter, it is important to understand how eerily similar the 2020 results in Philadelphia were to 2016. As of Tuesday evening, 743,966 votes for president had been counted in Philadelphia — an increase of 34,348 votes from 2016. This 4.8 percent increase in turnout is less than half of the 11.6 percent increase in turnout seen in the state as a whole. Not only was the increase in the number of ballots cast in Philadelphia from 2016 to 2020 relatively modest, but Mr. Trump won more votes and a greater percentage of the votes there than he did in 2016. He received 18 percent of the two-party vote this year, up from 15.7 percent in 2016, gaining 24,122 votes. In contrast, Mr. Biden received two percentage points less of the two-party vote in the city than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. If any fraud was attempted in Philadelphia, it failed miserably. Mr. Biden also did worse in Philadelphia in comparison with 2016 than in most other counties in the state. Mr. Biden outpaced Mrs. Clinton in 57 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Though he got one percentage point more of the two-party vote than she did statewide, he underperformed her by 2.3 points in Philadelphia County — the biggest percentage-point decline in any county in the state. Philadelphia stands out as the county where Mr. Biden did particularly poorly, not suspiciously well.
Editorial: Rage Against the Voting Machine – Trump blames the result on Dominion’s systems. Where’s the evidence? | Wall Street Journal
President Trump has so far been unwilling to concede to Joe Biden, and his latest argument is that the voting machines must have been rigged. Where’s the evidence? Strong claims need strong proof, not rumors and innuendo on Twitter. Chatter is swirling around Dominion Voting, a company that supplies equipment in some 28 states. What seems to have launched this theory was an early misreport of results in Antrim County, Mich. In 2016 Mr. Trump won 62% of its 13,600 ballots, so eyebrows rose this year when the initial tallies showed Mr. Biden up by 3,000. In reality, Mr. Trump had won 61% of Antrim County. The unofficial reporting was wrong, but the underlying votes were counted correctly. As officials later explained: In October the county had to tweak the ballot information for two local races. Tabulating machines in the affected areas were updated, but others weren’t. On Election Day the differing data didn’t line up right after being merged. But the printouts from the tabulators showed accurate totals. In any case, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office said the error “would have been identified during the county canvass,” when Democrats and Republicans “review the printed totals tape from each tabulator.” Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy told the Associated Press: “There was no malice, no fraud here, just human error.” She’s a Republican.
Full Article: Rage Against the Voting Machine – WSJ
Editorial: Republicans Should Be Defending Georgia’s Election Process | Trey Grayson/The New York Times
There has hardly ever been a tougher time to be the chief election administrator of a state. In most states, that role is held by the secretary of state, and running an election is just one of the many responsibilities that commands that person’s time and attention. Yet these public servants have ably run an election amid a pandemic, especially Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state of Georgia. I first met Mr. Raffensperger a few weeks after his election in 2018, at a gathering of new state secretaries. As a former president of the National Association of Secretaries of State and chair of the Republican Association of Secretaries of State, I have met a lot of election administrators, from the mediocre to the excellent. I was impressed by Mr. Raffensperger. He approaches his job with pragmatism. Unlike most secretaries of state, he is an engineer by training and approaches election administration from the perspective of a “numbers guy.” Too many secretaries of state see themselves as governors in waiting, but Mr. Raffensperger was enthusiastic about fixing the nuts and bolts of the election machinery. In just two years in office, he has improved Georgia’s election security in several ways. First, he replaced outdated, paperless voting systems with accessible, paper-based voting systems, which allowed for audits of elections in Georgia. For this election, given the closeness of the vote, Mr. Raffensperger is planning a hand recount, but going forward, Georgia will establish risk-limiting audits, which use statistical sampling to confirm results. He also joined the Electronic Registration Information Center, which will enable Georgia to keep its voter lists more up-to-date, removing people who have died or moved out of the state. And he further cleaned up the Georgia voter rolls by establishing an automated verification and registration system to make elections more efficient and reduce the opportunity for voter fraud.
As Election Day 2020 came to a close, many news outlets characterized the voting process as relatively problem free and lacking in “major disruptions.” While seemingly encouraging, in reality this characterization could not be further from the truth—especially for Black voters, who were forced to repeatedly endure and overcome relentless obstacles designed to stop them from exercising their right to vote in our democracy. Beyond the sheer, commendable will of these voters to cast their ballots, it took a legion of civil rights lawyers, activists, and volunteers to combat egregious voter suppression tactics in order to make Black voters’ already hurdle-laden path to the ballot box slightly less cumbersome. This reality should shame our country. And it cannot stand. One of the most telling lessons of this election is that our voting system is fundamentally broken. The future of our country unequivocally depends on our ability to reform this system, as we are a democracy in name only if we continue to readily inhibit Black voters from exercising their critical constitutional right. Despite one of the highest voter turnouts in the history of this country, examples abound that illustrate the deeply rooted problems with America’s voting system. The civil rights Election Protection hotline received nearly 32,000 calls on Election Day alone. Reports from the Voting Rights Defender and Prepared to Vote project teams at my organization, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., revealed the depth and breadth of the issues faced by Black voters.
Full Article: No, this election did not go “smoothly.”
President Donald J. Trump hasn’t conceded the presidential race to his Democratic challenger Joe Biden yet—something that would be a normal step in the peaceful transition of power. Instead, Trump has continued to make unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and to threaten new lawsuits that he says will expose the fraud and lead to his victory. (They won’t.) Given Trump’s norm breaking throughout his presidency, his failure to concede early is hardly a surprise. The question is whether we should worry about it, and whether his failure threatens that peaceful transition. So far, the signs are hopeful that we will make it through this period, but all is not rosy. Responsible Republican congressional leaders are not yet on board but likely will be soon. On Sunday, all Republican House leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy would say was that the nation had to wait for the process to play itself out, while former President George W. Bush called Biden “president-elect” and acknowledged Trump could pursue his legal remedies: “The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.” Irresponsible voices, though, are trying to delegitimize the Biden presidency from the beginning. There has been no official calling of the results yet. It will take days and weeks more before results are certified in the states, as officials double-check results and as candidates have the opportunity to demand recounts. Eventually, after certification, presidential electors will meet, governors will transmit the Electoral College results to Congress, Congress will count those votes on Jan. 6, and Biden will be sworn in as president. What we have right now are nearly final election results across almost all the states, giving vote-counting experts working for reputable media organizations the ability to predict with very high certainty that Biden has captured more than enough votes in more than enough states to win the Electoral College vote.
Full Article: What happens if Trump won’t concede.
Editorial: Trump Can Try, but the Courts Won’t Decide the Election | Richard H. Pildes/The New York Times
This is the moment in a close election, with close states, we knew would arrive. Even before Tuesday, this was already the most litigated election in history. It was inevitable, then, that tight margins in potentially decisive states would spawn a flurry of postelection lawsuits as well. With delayed outcomes, the Trump campaign is pursuing legal action in several states (as well as a recount request in Wisconsin). I had hoped that we could avoid this situation and get to a final count quickly with simple measures: voting in person, processing absentee ballots early. But now that we are here, it is better that these battles over ballots play out in the courts than in the streets. We have been told, rightly, to be patient and let election administrators do their job. That same steady calm is needed now as some of the contest shifts to the courts. Some of these suits are best understood as reflecting the Trump campaign’s own disorganization. Indeed, coming from the campaign that appears behind, they are a sign of Mr. Trump’s weakness. The bottom line is that the suits filed so far are highly unlikely to affect the overall outcome of the election. The law entitles campaigns to pursue recounts, if outcomes fall within certain margins, even if they are likely to be fruitless. Desperate campaigns are free to throw Hail Mary legal passes. But in court, claims have to be proved with facts.
Why are so many Americans consistently missing in action on Election Day? For many, it’s a choice. They are disillusioned with government, or they feel their vote doesn’t matter because politicians don’t listen to them anyway. For many more, the main obstacle is bureaucratic inertia. In New York City, a decrepit, incompetent, self-dealing board of elections has been making a mockery of democracy for decades. Just in the past four years, tens of thousands of absentee ballots have been sent to the wrong addresses, and hundreds of thousands of voters have been wrongly purged from the rolls. For the past few days, some New Yorkers have been forced to stand in line for four or five hours to cast their ballots. But across the country, the group most responsible for making voting harder, if not impossible, for millions of Americans is the Republican Party. Republicans have been saying it themselves for ages. “I don’t want everybody to vote,” Paul Weyrich, a leader of the modern conservative movement, told a gathering of religious leaders in 1980. “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
The Justice Department unsealed charges against six alleged Russian government hackers on Monday and said they were behind a rash of recent cyberattacks — from damaging Ukraine’s electrical grid to interfering in France’s election to spying on European investigations and more. The men work for the Russian military intelligence agency GRU — which also led Russian cyber-interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Justice Department officials said Moscow has only sustained or heightened its intensity of effort since then.”No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite,” said John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for national security. “Today the department has charged these Russian officers with conducting the most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group. … No nation will recapture greatness while behaving in this way.”
Georgia: Anatomy of an Election ‘Meltdown’ in Georgia | Danny Hakim, Reid J. Epstein and Stephanie Saul/The New York Times
Last month, Daryl Marvin got his first taste of voting in Georgia. Mr. Marvin had previously lived in Connecticut, where voting was a brisk process measured in minutes. But on the day of the primary, June 9, he and his wife waited four hours to vote at Park Tavern, an Atlanta restaurant where more than 16,000 voters were consolidated into a single precinct. An electrical engineer by training, Mr. Marvin was baffled by what he saw when he finally got inside: a station with 15 to 20 touch screens on which to vote but only a single scanner to process the printed ballots. “The scanner was the choke point,” he said. “Nobody thought about it, and this is Operations Research 101. It’s not very difficult to figure it out.” Captured in drone footage, beamed across airwaves and internet, the interminable lines at Atlanta polling sites became an instant and indelible omen of voting breakdown in this pandemic-challenged presidential election year. Elections workers described a cascade of failures as they struggled to activate and operate Georgia’s new high-tech voting system. Next came a barrage of partisan blame-throwing: The Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, accused the liberal-leaning Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta, of botching the election, while Democratic leaders saw the fiasco as just the latest episode in Republicans’ yearslong effort to disenfranchise the state’s minority voters. Six weeks later, as the political calendar bends toward November and the presidential campaigns look to Georgia as a possible battleground, the faults in the state’s balky elections system remain largely unresolved. And it has become increasingly clear that what happened in June was a collective collapse.
National: U.S. Warns Russia, China and Iran Are Trying to Interfere in the Election. Democrats Say It’s Far Worse. | David E. Sanger and Julian E. Barnes/The New York Times
American intelligence officials issued a public warning on Friday that China was “expanding its influence efforts” in the United States ahead of the presidential election, along with Russia and Iran, but Democrats briefed on the matter said the threat was far more urgent than what the administration described. The warning came from William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, in a statement 100 days before Americans go to the polls. “We’re primarily concerned with China, Russia and Iran — although other nation-states and nonstate actors could also do harm to our electoral process,” the statement said. The warning about China came at a moment of extraordinary tension between Beijing and Washington, only days after the United States indicted two Chinese hackers on charges of stealing intellectual property, including for the country’s main intelligence service, and evicted Chinese diplomats from their consulate in Houston. The intelligence warning on Friday did not accuse the Chinese of trying to hack the vote; instead it said they were using their influence “to shape the policy environment in the United States” and to pressure politicians “it views as opposed to China’s interests.” Russia, the warning said, was continuing to “spread disinformation in the U.S. that is designed to undermine confidence in our democratic process,” and it described Iran as an emerging actor in election interference, seeking to spread disinformation and “recirculating anti-U.S. content.” The statement was short on details, reminiscent of the vague warnings that the director of national intelligence turned out starting in October 2016 that, in retrospect, failed to seize the attention of officials and voters before the last presidential election.