11

Obviously there's a big divide between the opinion that no voter fraud happened in the 2020 Presidential Election, and that such widespread voter fraud happened in enough states so as to swing the election in multiple states. Realistically it seems obvious to me that a non-zero amount of people attempted to commit voter fraud, and a non-zero amount of clerical errors were made in the process of counting votes. Leading me to conclude that an unknown, but probably negligible amount of fraudulent votes would have been counted.

Using the most plausible sounding allegation I've read about for example: mail-in votes from deceased registered voters.

Some obvious possibilities are either individuals acting alone and mailing in the extra ballots they'd received in the post - then the counters not properly verifying the voter details, or simply a clerical error having marked of the wrong person as having voted.

If fraud is found, it allows for the system to be improved to prevent the same issue in future - given how long was spent investigating allegations of foreign interference in the 2016 election this seems like it's an issue for the Democrats as well.

If no fraud is found then it solidifies the legitimacy of the new Democrat Administration, and the public confidence in the system.

If a small amount of fraud is found, but would not have affected the outcome then the system can be improved so that it's not possible next election.

In the worst case (highly unlikely) scenario for the Democrats - widespread voter fraud occurred undetected by officials, but somehow is detectable after the fact - it would be impossible to determine with certainty which side had committed the fraud - so the only course of action would be to rerun the election.

If managed well to the effect of "we believe so strongly in the Democratic process, and in the legitimacy of this election vote that we support the investigation because we know we're the legitimate winners" - wouldn't the Democrats be in a situation where no matter the outcome of the investigation they'd be positively impacted? Or would it be simply perceived as too dangerous a political move to cooperate with the Republicans and risk it being interpreted by the public as a confession of guilt?

7
  • 2
    i've voted to reopen, because while the question itself may have some flaws, answering it is both timely and well within the scope of the Politics stack. Nov 10, 2020 at 16:16
  • Keep in mind that election results have to be certified by law by December 8, 2020 under federal law and sooner under many state laws.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 13, 2020 at 0:06
  • 1
    ""we believe so strongly in the Democratic process" The word is capitalized when referring to the Democratic Party. When referring to non-proper noun uses, it's "democratic". Nov 13, 2020 at 3:43
  • 1
    Didn't the Trump administration have a presidential commission to investigate voter fraud that (as I recall) was unable to discover anything worth reporting about?
    – BobE
    Nov 13, 2020 at 4:40
  • 3
    This question starts with a false assumption - that they aren't supporting any investigation into allegations of voter fraud. While it is the political stance of most Democrats that there is no widespread voter fraud (both from lack of evidence and as a pragmatic standpoint), that doesn't mean they are ignoring allegations of it - a quick look into several questions here and on skeptics.se will show that a lot of investigation is being done into these allegations.
    – Zibbobz
    Nov 13, 2020 at 13:57

6 Answers 6

49

I'm going to pull out Kant's categorical imperative, here:

It is our duty to act in such a manner that we would want everyone else to act in a similar manner in similar circumstances towards all other people.

just to show how quickly the premises of this question dissolve into absolute absurdity. Let's assume for the moment that we were to make the request embedded in this question a standard, universal practice in the US. In other words, any time some US citizen made a public claim and demanded an investigation — without regard to the claim's credibility, with or without any evidence suggesting the claim is meaningful, without considering the sanity or ulterior motives of the person making the demand — we would follow through with a full-scale public investigation. Forget about voter fraud: UFOlogists would demand that Area 51 be torn apart to reveal its space aliens; flat-earthers would demand access to rockets to prove that the world isn't round; The FBI would have to open cases looking for Elvis, Tupac, and other ostensibly 'dead' celebrities, because some people insist they are alive and well in hiding. We'd open investigations into every psychotic delusion, crack-addled paranoid fantasy, and every child's complaint about a boogeyman. And that's just the 'honest' nonsense: how many people would start accusing their ex-spouses, hated neighbors, mean bosses, etc, of being drug addicts, pedophiles, serial killers, members of the Illuminati, demons, Martians, whatever, just so the police will come in and tear apart the lives of people the accuser dislikes.

Remember, an investigation isn't a neutral act, despite what many like to assert. Investigations are expensive, invasive, destructive; they ruin reputations, create distrust, destroy lives and livelihoods, and expend countless man-hours of people doing nothing except digging through other people's dirty laundry, looking for dirt. This is why US courts (and most courts in Liberal democracies) insist on the principle of Corpus Delicti: that the evidentiary body of a case must first prove that an act contrary to law has actually occurred, before the case can advance. Where there is no evidence that a crime has been committed, the courts assume no crime has occurred and do not pursue prosecution. Even police and federal investigators are stymied, because without some evidence of an act contrary to law they cannot get search or arrest warrants, or in other ways investigate.

In general, Democrats are fine with the idea of investigations into voter fraud, and investigations of that sort go on all the time. There's no sense referring to bipartisanism here; non-partisan agencies handle the investigative work, and occasionally (though rarely) find and prosecute cases. Recall the arrest of Leslie Dowless Jr., who organized a ballot harvesting scheme in North Carolina for Republican Mark Harris a year or so back. There's no sense fixing that process, because it isn't broken.

What Democrats object to is the idea that we should open an investigation into massive voter fraud with absolutely no corpus delicti: no evidence that fraud on such a massive scale exists. Again, an investigation of this sort is not neutral. it will damage and delegitimize the institution of voting, even if no voting fraud is ultimately found. It will cost tremendous amounts of time and money; it will increase acrimony between the parties; the whole investigation would be sullied by the inescapable impression that it is a product of Trump's malicious anger at having lost, and not founded in any criminal act. Trump and his supporters don't seem to care if they damage the institution of voting (or perhaps they don't understand the consequences of it all), but Democrats do care, because Democrats want this country to remain a democratic republic, and that requires respect for the institution of voting.

I think it would be a good idea for Congress to sit down and review voting safeguards; that certainly can't hurt. But an untimely investigation based on a conspiracy theory with no body of evidence and crystal clear self-serving motivations... That's an offense against the principles of law and justice this nation was built on.

24
  • 14
    As attributed to Richelieu, "Give me six lines written by the most honest man in the world, and I will find enough in them to hang him." Given enough material, somebody prepared to cherry-pick and misrepresent it can always manufacture the appearance of impropriety. Nov 9, 2020 at 5:41
  • 15
    It is maybe worth drawing a contrast with the 2016 foreign interference allegations, where there was a significant body of objective evidence, e.g. the DNC hack in June which had been independently attributed to Russia: washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/07/06/… Nov 9, 2020 at 8:02
  • 28
    The old adage comes to mind -- "the amount of effort needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it" Nov 9, 2020 at 8:47
  • 2
    @Schmuddi: I agree, it's a complex situation, and there's no perfect solution. BUT... there's a significant difference between whitewashing actual evidence of wrongdoing (as your German minister does, and many US police chiefs similarly do), and pushing an investigation in the factual absence of evidence. It really is better to let the guilt go free than to convict the innocent: the guilty you can catch later, if they don't reform their ways, but breaking the innocent can't be fixed. Nov 14, 2020 at 14:07
  • 4
    @KarlKnechtel: You seem to have missed the principle of reductio ad absurdum. I never suggested that belief in Area 51 aliens and belief in voter fraud were conceptually equivalent; I pointed out that they are equivalent on evidentiary grounds. Reread the second paragraph about corpus delicti. To put it in the simplest possible term, we do not take (expensive, damaging, divisive) action just because somebody says so. It doesn't matter who says so; we need more than someone's word before we start taking a hatchet to otherwise innocent looking things. Nov 16, 2020 at 6:09
15

Democrats do support investigation into voter fraud allegations. They have allowed poll watchers. They have live-streamed vote counting. They have compared millions of ballot signatures to signatures on file.

Donald Trump, after attacking whistleblowers through his presidency, has hidden behind "whistleblower" rhetoric to refuse to provide witnesses making credible, specific, first-hand allegations of fraud, and instead has asked us to trust his hearsay.

Trump has been provided with multiple opportunities to provide courts with evidence creating probable cause to support an allegation of fraud, and has repeatedly failed to do so. There is bipartisan agreement that Trump's claims are baseless. Even Fox News considers his administration to be engaging in misinformation.

Try calling 911 and not saying anything more than "someone did some crime" and seeing how seriously they take it. Especially after spending several years calling them and making false reports.

1
  • Calling 911 :) Remember that 46-min-speech listing endless statements of deviation. True or False by content, I have not heard journalism doing its job, which is reworking public statements by verifying such one-by-one, and this feeds disaffection; without verification and for convenience referring to court decisions, the classification "baseless claims" remains intransparent, no matter how often it is repeated. Feb 11 at 19:09
7

This proposition seems to lead to the eventual conclusion where every election, each state will have to conduct at least three different sets of counts and recounts, and the courts will have to spend months of their time investigating just about every allegation under the sun. It is a noble idea to be able to vigorously investigate all possible fraud to make sure none occurred, but it is rather similar to the idea of every accountant counting every individual dollar themselves in a multi-billion dollar business to make sure no fraud occurred - there are simply better methods.

Those better methods are all in regards to prevention, and in this account numerous reviews of been made of the USA's voting system with very few troubles found in the "system". As it stands now, the USA is probably too good at the prevention step to the extent of making it living hell for many voters to even make one vote in the first place.

3

Honestly I don't think it would make much difference, because I see the main problem somewhere else:
The american voting system is a chaotic mess.

I am writing this as an European who has followed the election rather closely and I have to admit that the whole process just leaves me confused:
Every single state has its own procedures, from the process of voter registration over the act of voting itself to the rules with regard to mail-in-ballots. Some states seem to have a rather straightforward and efficient system, others not so much (hence the Nevada memes and so on...).
Immediately on the day of voting a complex reality TV show begins in which news anchors react and debate the incrementally released pre-results while calling states before it even has ended.

This election has been especially chaotic thanks to the mail-in-ballots, which have exacerbated some of the worst features of the voting system.
Several people have rationally explained beforehand what to expect in this election, namelely that Trump would be ahead before the counting of the mail-in-ballots and whereas Biden would experience a surge once those ballots are counted, but it doesn't matter because, once again, the system is such a chaotic mess.
Some states require mail-in-ballots to be there on the day of the vote, some give more leeway, some states are done on the very same day, some are lingering around even one week after, some states have straightforward rules, others require the planets of the solar system to align while a crow flies from south to north under a new moon (figuratively speaking).

Add to all of that the sharp partisan divide in the american population combined with the fact that the big media corporations are strictly party-aligned and you have a situation in which it is very hard to make rational arguments that the other side will accept, which leads me to my beforementioned conclusion:
It wouldn't matter if the Democrats supported the investigation, as the whole system is far too opaque anyway for a regular, hell even for an invested person to follow in meaningful way.
I wouldn't be terribly surprised if such an investigation ended the way it started: Republicans crying foul play, Democrats proclaiming a fair election, and nobody any smarter then they were before.

The only chance to avoid situations like this, especially should the partisan divide grow even stronger, would be a streamlined and unified voting system across the states that is easily understandable and transparent for the whole populace:
"You register for voting like this, the vote is on Day X and has to follow those procedural rules, mail in ballots have to be there on Day X/Y and have to abide this standard, the final results are published on Day Z time hh:nn, Day Z being as close to Day X as possible.
The more opaque and complex the process, the more likely a situation like the current one.

6
  • 4
    It has to be easily understandable and transparent, but why does it have to be the same across the states? No voter has to worry about the rules in more than one state (unless they are trying to commit fraud, in which case having them get confused about the sets of rules applying to multiple illegally attempted votes and messing up some of them seems like a mildly good thing)
    – Ben Voigt
    Nov 13, 2020 at 17:15
  • 3
    While I admit I'm looking from the inside, there are several misconceptions in this answer. The one I particularly want to call out is "the fact that the big media corporations are strictly party-aligned" — this is not true and not even remotely so, despite constant comments from the right (and honestly, from both sides). There's an IMHO strong argument to be made that the media as a whole is corporatist and skews its coverage that way, but party alignment just isn't true. Nov 14, 2020 at 21:41
  • 3
    From a different outside perspective, it's really obvious that the big media corporations are in fact party-aligned. You can tell by watching what they say and comparing and contrasting how they cover stories and which stories they choose to cover or not cover. Like, it's so blatant that I don't understand how people with the benefit of an inside perspective could possibly overlook it. Nov 16, 2020 at 2:50
  • 3
    "but why does it have to be the same across the states?" Because that's part of transparency. If you're made aware that other people participating in the process are doing something different, it naturally raises questions about whether your contribution will really be treated the same way. Nov 16, 2020 at 2:51
  • You mention you're European; have you ever looked into how the European Parliament is elected? Admittedly, there are only 27 different systems of registration, counting the votes, registering party lists, etc. rather than 51; on the other hand, voting goes on for four whole days with different poll opening and closing times in every country. Somehow, however, rarely have I seen anyone call it a complete mess.
    – Jan
    Feb 8 at 11:59
-1

No matter what they do Republicans will yell fakenews. In general in politics it is not wise to play into the traps set by your opponent. For eg. Trump ran as an outsider in 2016 to which Hilary responded by sayin - as the first woman running president as the major candidate of one of the 2 parties she was an outsider too. Instead she should have juxtaposed her experience and skills as a secratary.

Dems will value from doubling down** on the election being legitimate and the republicans being a joke and sore losers by literally trying to jeorpadise the democratic process

  • Not that I like the democrats, joe biden or hilary or any of them, I am also not a republican, my political views align with Olof Palme, Willy Brandt, George Orwell etc.
3
  • Willy Brandt was that guy, who stepped back because of corruption. Feb 8 at 12:13
  • 2
    @SamGinrich No: he resigned after it was unveiled that the GDR had placed a spy in his immediate circle.
    – Jan
    Feb 8 at 17:16
  • @Jan You are right. In retrospective I think Mr. Kohl should have resigned for the same reason ;) Feb 8 at 18:05
-1

It would be neither beneficial to the Democrats nor to the broader state of US politics

As an abstract question without any context, the answer to the question "should the Democrats support bipartisan investigations of electoral fraud" would clearly be "yes". They could be seen to stand for election integrity and gain some positive political points for sensible bipartisan work.

But there is a context here. And the context clearly says that there is nothing to gain from a bipartisan investigation either for the Democrats or the broader good of the US political system.

The context is that a disturbing proportion of the US electorate believe in rampant voter fraud. Moreover, many thorough investigations by Republican election officials and even by highly partisan groups like the now defunct Cyber Ninjas (as in Maricopa County, Arizona) who started with a presupposition that fraud had happened, have failed to find any such fraud. Yet the widespread belief that fraud has happened has persisted.

An example of the degree of study of potential fraud was given by the Georgia Officials not long after the notorious leaked call between Brad Raffensperger and Donald Trump where Trump tried to persuade the official to find enough votes so that trump could win the state. Trump quoted many allegations of specific fraudulent activities but Raffensperger investigated many and refuted them. The full letter he wrote to the representatives who were planning to object to the certification of Biden's victory there on the basis of Trump's allegations is here. He concluded:

Law enforcement officers ... have been diligently investigating all claims of fraud and irregularities... Tehri work has shown me that there is nowhere close to sufficient evidence to put in doubt the result of the presidential result in Georgia.

It is worth reading all of it in detail to see how many allegations still in wide circulation a year later were refuted by specific detailed investigation.

It is also worth noting that many members of his team (mostly Republicans) have suffered threats because of this conclusion. Moreover, the highly detailed analysis in his letter has had little effect on the continued circulation of the allegations he refuted. Trump is still repeating many of the refuted claims on public platforms.

The point, and the relevant context for the question, is that the claims of major fraud have been refuted but this refutation has had almost no impact on the widespread belief that fraud happened. That much of the refutation was conducted by Republicans had made no difference to the spread of belief in fraud. That even highly partisan groups like Cyber Ninjas could not find the evidence they sought of fraud has made little difference to the number of people believing in the fraud.

Rather too many people believe in the Big fraud. They don't believe in it because of evidence and they won't stop believing in it because of evidence. No amount of bipartisan work by Democrats or anyone else will make much difference to this belief. The Democrats have nothing to gain by supporting more investigations as the evidence is irrelevant to the belief in fraud and that belief won't be influenced by the results no matter how robust or bipartisan they are.

Donald Trump has proved that evidence and a written constitution are no protection against a political leader who refuses to concede an election (it seems that a popular leader who loses can raise money and court continued popularity by continuing to claim fraud happened whatever the evidence looks like). And US politics seems so partisan that no amount of evidence seems to have much impact on the supporters who feel defrauded.

It looks like the only effective way to stop a widespread belief in fraud is for Trump himself or a large number of leading Republicans to stop claiming it (which they don't seem to have the backbone to do given how popular the belief is).

There is no upside for the Democrats and little room for evidence in this situation.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .