We are nine days removed from a surprisingly close, unsurprisingly contentious presidential election in which Democrat Joe Biden appears to have narrowly won four key swing states – handing him an apparent electoral victory over incumbent U.S. president Donald Trump.
Because Biden’s apparent margins of victory in these four battleground states were so narrow – 0.3 percent in Arizona, 0.2 percent in Georgia, 0.8 percent in Pennsylvania and 0.7 percent in Wisconsin – various efforts are underway to assess (and hopefully ensure) the integrity of the vote.
In Georgia, for example, secretary of state Brad Raffensperger has mandated that each and every one of the state’s five million ballots be recounted … by hand.
“With the margin being so close, it will require a full, by-hand recount in each county,” Raffensperger told reporters. “It will be an audit, a recount and a recanvass all at once.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a nationwide investigation into alleged voting irregularities, although as we noted in covering this inquiry Trump and his allies “have yet to put forth an evidence-based narrative supporting their contention that fraudulent votes provided Biden with his winning margins.”
That doesn’t mean they won’t … it just means as of this writing they haven’t (although there is plenty of smoke).
Nonetheless, we support this investigation … as should every American who wishes to maintain his or her faith in the fundamental fairness of this Republic.
Seriously … how can such a thing be even remotely controversial? Count the votes, check the votes … then live with the outcome. Whatever it winds up being.
Not surprisingly, though, the post-election fallout – like everything else in this country lately – is being perceived almost exclusively along preconceived partisan lines. Ramped-up rhetoric and recrimination are the rules of the day, not sober objectivity and stoic acceptance of fairly wrought, evidence-based outcomes.
Of course such is life when no one actually cares about outcomes.
Far too many among us have given up the search for truth … seeking only validation.
Far too many among us don’t want to know what actually happened … they want to twist and distort the reality confronting them until it conforms into something palatable to their world view.
They don’t want to be truly informed or (gasp) challenged in their belief system … they want to be coddled.
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And when it comes to those who think differently than they do … the goal is no longer to prove or disprove a counter-narrative based on facts, it is to humiliate and demonize another human being with vulgar vitriol.
Alas, such is our post-truth world.
Against this unfortunate backdrop, we currently have two competing election narratives: Trump and many of his supporters are adamant that the 2020 vote has been stolen – and that recounts and audits will uncover the alleged fraud.
Meanwhile, Trump’s adversaries are accusing him of attempting a coup d’état by refusing to accept the outcome of the race.
“Imagine that a president of another country lost an election and refused to concede defeat,” wrote David Leonhardt for The New York Times. “Instead, he lied about the vote count. He then filed lawsuits to have ballots thrown out, put pressure on other officials to back him up and used the power of government to prevent a transition of power from starting. How would you describe this behavior? It’s certainly anti-democratic. It is an attempt to overrule the will of the people, ignore a country’s laws and illegitimately grab political power.”
Barring clear and compelling evidence to the contrary, we presume the current electoral returns are valid. However, this presumption of validity must be accompanied by a rigorous inspection of all ballots in these battleground states – along with a thorough investigation of all credible allegations of tampering, box-stuffing, “glitches” and other voting irregularities.
Why do we support such scrutiny? Because our representative democracy depends on it …
To be clear: When it comes to such claims – the burden of proof is obviously on the challenger to provide evidence of demonstrable fraud that impacted the outcome of the race.
If such evidence is presented, it must be judged on its merits – with any demonstrably fraudulent votes discarded. If such evidence is not presented, then the votes must stand.
Again … this is not complicated.
And whether you love or hate the incumbent president – or the man who appears likely to replace him – you should love your country enough to make sure we get this right. The American presidency, after all, is not a fait accompli.
More importantly, all of us should work together between now and the next election to prioritize the security and integrity of the ballot to the same extent we prioritized its convenience in this election.
In fact, let that be the first of many problems in our country we resolve to address with common sense and fairness serving as our guides – not more of the same “all-in” divisiveness.
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