October 8, 2016

WHEN REALITY CONFLICTS WITH YOUR IDEOLOGY YOU HAVE TO CHANGE ONE...:

TRUMP AND THE TRUTH: THE "RIGGED" ELECTION (Jonathan Blitzer, 10/08/16, The New Yorker)

As my colleague Amy Davidson has discussed, Republicans have spent years, beginning well before Trump's campaign, warning voters that devious people were trying to cast illegitimate ballots to swing elections. They gave the problem a tidy, intuitive-sounding name: voter fraud. But, in an especially toxic political gambit, Trump has taken this concept to the extreme: trying to delegitimize a national election even while campaigning for the Presidency.

By now, it seems almost quaint to point out that voter fraud in the United States is vanishingly rare. Yet the facts are clear. When Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School, tracked cases of alleged voter impersonation--that is, someone pretending to be someone else at the polls--between 2000 and August of 2014, he found just thirty-one incidents, out of more than a billion ballots cast in general, primary, special, and municipal elections during that period. Another investigation, by a national reporting project based at Arizona State University called News21, found two thousand and sixty-eight alleged election-fraud cases between 2000 and the summer of 2012. Ten of them were voter-impersonation cases; the others were related to absentee ballots and voter registration. (The over-all numbers amounted to roughly one malign impersonator out of every fifteen million potential voters.) In-person voter fraud is virtually nonexistent in part because it's a laughably inefficient way to affect the outcome of an election. The penalties are steep--hefty fines, even jail time--while the actual gains, in terms of extra votes, are minimal.

Not that these findings will sway Trump--in fact, his arguments about election fraud also long predate his current campaign. On Election Night in 2012, he tweeted, "This election is a total sham and travesty. We are not a democracy." Two years later, he was at it again, this time with a nativist twist. "Crazy - Election officials saying that there is nothing stopping illegal immigrants from voting," he tweeted the Friday before the midterms. "This is very bad (unfair) for Republicans!"


...well-balanced people change the latter.

Posted by at October 8, 2016 9:52 AM

  

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