The Outstater

February 14, 2021

YOU REALIZE NOW that it can be considered seditious, if not an outright admission of domestic terrorism leading to insurrection, to ask whether the 2020 presidential election was “stolen.” Are you allowed, though, to ask whether future elections might be stolen?

Good question, for without a thorough forensic examination of this last election we can have no idea how vulnerable we are in future elections. And please know that Indiana is not exempt in this regard, more about which in a moment.

During a stint as a U.S. Senate staffer, I attended several meetings with experts on election fraud. The setting was the contentious election for the legislative assembly of El Salvador. The Senate Foreign Relationship Committee had reason to believe that agents of the Soviet Union would try to fix the vote.

The experts listed a dizzying number of ways that elections are stolen in democracies throughout the world. They recommended that El Salvador install the most extreme methods to ensure integrity — photo identification, physical registration with signatures, thumb prints, secret inks, etc. (They would have laughed at the thought of mailing blank ballots to unknown addresses.)

Why didn’t we take such measures in U.S. elections? The answer was that the democratic process here n 1982 was uncommonly honest, Chicago and the Rio Grande Valley exempted.

Well, so much for that.

Even ignoring the 2020 debacle, American election fraud has become more common — commonplace even. The columnist Ann Coulter and others document numerous verified high profile cases beginning with the election of Lyndon Johnson to the U.S. Senate in 1947. Most recently, they include the 2000 Missouri senatorial election, the 2004 Washington gubernatorial election and the 2008 Minnesota senatorial election (100 convictions there for voter fraud).

According to the Electoral Integrity Project, the U.S. now is tied with Mexico for voter integrity, if that tells you anything. Among the factors that counted us down were no voter ID, mail-in ballots, duplicate registration, election observers being prevented from observing, unreliable voting machines, the media calling results while some areas are still voting and voter fraud not being prosecuted reliably.

In Indiana, regarding voting machines, we have no idea what we are dealing with. In research for the foundation, Margaret Menge was unable to get the Governor or the Secretary of State to verify the nature of official oversight of machines here. 

Menge phoned Jay Bagga, a computer science professor at Ball State University who, along with criminal science professor Bryan Byers, runs VSTOP (Voting Systems Technical Oversight Program). That is the firm responsible for testing and recommending which voting machines the Indiana Election Commission should certify and approve. Bagga did not return the call. 

In addition, the Secretary of State’s 2020 manual on elections administration produced for county clerks says: “The Secretary of State may designate counties as risk-limiting audit pilot counties.” Menge, however, could not get confirmation from the Secretary of State as to whether that is being done.

It is obviously important that citizens believe their votes are being counted accurately. That, however, is rarely the case in many supposed democracies. The result is low voter turnout, a historic marker of a banana republic.

People don’t bother to vote when they distrust the process. Democracy is a civic religion in such places, something that requires irrational faith. (Totalitarian “democracies” perversely require 100 percent voter participation in the attempt to prove they are not totalitarian.)

In that El Salvador election mentioned earlier voter turnout, if memory serves, was double the previous percentage. The difference was that the U.S. stepped in to ensure there would be an honest-to-goodness election.

The average turnout for presidential elections in the U.S. since 2000 has been about 60 percent. But with all the talk of voting irregularities, you might want to watch that percentage in coming years to determine which direction we are going — functional democracy or civic religion.

There are those in America today, call them cynics, who think that all of the talk in Washington about protecting democracy has more to do with legitimizing the rule of an elite class made up of both Republican and Democratic power players. Elections, they say, are no longer representative; they are more like 19th century tent revivals, complete with prearranged ”cures.”

The case of the cynics grew stronger this last year. It won’t be proved wrong until we are allowed to look at evidence presented at court and supported by testimony under oath. — tcl


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