Sunday, October 16, 2016

Trump and accusations of rigging

By now, you’ve heard it in the media repeated ad infinitum, ad absurdum: Hillary/the Media/the Democrats are rigging the 2016 election.  It’s a common enough election year mantra.  I remember a conversation with my father, about ten years ago, in which he stated that Truman’s 1948 upset victory over Dewey was rigged.  He went on the say it was accomplished by fraudulent voting in Chicago and Texas - and it was then that I first realized my dad, approaching 80 at the time, was mentally losing it.  It was not the 1948 election, but the 1960 election, conspiracy buffs claim, that was rigged by Richard Daley’s machine in Chicago and Lyndon Johnson in Texas – all greased with money by Joe Kennedy.  These allegations have never been proven.

It’s worth pointing out that, of the billion or so votes cast in the United States since 2000, there have only been 31 proven cases of fraudulent votes – a statistically insignificant number.  Voter suppression, on the other hand, is very real, and likely had a role in George W. Bush’s victory in Florida that year.   While those allegations also remain unproven, there’s far more evidence for tomfoolery in Florida in 2000 than anywhere in 1960.

In fact, it is nearly impossible to rig a national election in the United States, because, simply put, there is no such thing as a national election here.  True, there are Presidential elections – but those are 50 state elections (territories like the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, of course, don’t have a vote in Presidential elections – although they do in party primaries) which happen to have Electors for Presidents on the ballot.  It is certainly possible to rig a state election – and it’s entirely possible that Jeb Bush helped rig Florida for his brother in 2000.  But if Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida vote for Hillary Clinton on November 8, it’s not evidence of rigging – as the electoral boards in all three states are controlled by Republicans.  On the other hand, if those states vote for Trump in the face of polls which indicate a lead for Clinton, further investigation is warranted.

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