The election was remarkable, on its face, because it cut against almost every poll, which predicted Democrat Hillary Clinton would win key swing states like North Carolina and Florida.
She was also projected to win in Pennsylvania, Michigan and other traditionally Democratic states that actually went to Trump. If the polls were accurate, she would have easily won the Electoral College and the White House by a 3 percent to 4 percent margin.
But she didn’t.
Trump’s victory was attributed to an unexpected surge in rural white voters who turned out in greater than expected numbers. But is that even possible?
So far too few questions are being asked. Oddly, most of the media reports challenging the election have originated in Great Britain.
Media in the U.S. have been uncharacteristically complacent. Instead, most coverage has focused on an orderly transition and giving Trump a “chance,” despite overwhelming evidence of his sexism, shady business practices, misogyny and blatant demagoguery.
And, now, a questionable election.
Republicans have long claimed the Electoral College is tilted toward Democrats. That’s because traditional blue states like California are heavily weighted with Electoral College votes. The state has 55 electors compared to say, Wyoming, which has a mere three electors.
But in California, each elector represents just shy of 700,000 residents, while each Wyoming elector represents just shy of 200,000 residents. Electors are supposed to be apportioned by Congressional districts, which are supposed to be uniform in terms of population.
The net result is Wyoming electors carry far more weight than California electors, which helps explain why Clinton could win the popular vote, but lose the election.
In short, the Electoral College is heavily weighted toward rural states over more urbanized states where most people live. In essence, the presidential election is actually 51 mini state elections because of state winner-take-all rules.
That, alone, is grounds for Trump’s disqualification, or at least a legal challenge based on the Constitutionally guaranteed right of one-person-one vote in federal elections.
If that were the only issue, then rigged election allegations would mostly be fodder for academic debate. But other irregularities point to a possibly broader conspiracy to rig the election.
The problem isn’t the kind of rigging that Trump complained about involving dead people “miraculously” casting ballots, or busloads of voters being driven from polling place to polling place to vote multiple times.
An Arizona State University study of voting patterns in the 2012 election found the incidence of individual voter fraud was “infinitesimal.” Nonetheless, 37 state legislatures enacted or considered tough voter ID laws to prevent fraud that was essentially “non-existent.”
Some of the efforts were discovered before the election. In North Carolina, for example, a federal court ruled that voting restrictions had targeted “African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”
Greg Palast, who has investigated voting patterns in the United States and Great Britain, wrote last August in Rolling Stone magazine, that “a decade-long Republican effort to disenfranchise voters under the guise of battling voter fraud” was far more likely to undermine the November election.
He may have been prescient.
Some 30 Republican-controlled states, including Michigan and North Carolina, signed onto what’s known as the “Voter Registration Crosscheck Program.”
It was devised in 2005 by then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Today, he’s a key Trump advisor, transition team member and chief advocate of building a Mexican wall and deporting immigrants en masse.
Needless to say, restrictions enacted by mostly Republican-controlled state legislatures weighed heavily on minority communities. The system was designed to match names, dates of birth and the last four digits of social security numbers to spot duplicate voters.
Palast examined more than 2 million names in the system and discovered those cross-checks were widely ignored. Instead, matches were mostly made through common names. From there, it was easy to pick off minorities, he asserts.
“If your name is Washington, there’s an 89 percent chance you’re African-American,” he told the UK’s Guardian newspaper. “If your last name is Hernandez, there’s a 94 percent chance you’re Hispanic” according to U.S. census data. The most common name, he found, was Mohamed Mohamed.
Now, here’s the scam. Potential double registrants were sent a postcard and asked to verify their address by mailing it back.
“The junk mail experts we spoke to said this postcard is meant not to be returned. It’s inscrutable small print, doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t even say you’re accused of voting twice. It just says, please confirm your voting address, and most people of color, poor voters don’t respond to this sort of mailing, and they know that.”
As a result, ethnic voters were disproportionately likely to be targeted and purged from voter lists, Palast asserts.
Based on his examination, Palast estimates that 7.2 million registered voters were tagged as potential double registered. Of that number, 1.1 million voters, many in crucial swing states, were likely deprived of their right to vote.
Palast’s findings make for a troubling conspiracy theory, but examined in the context of the election’s outcome, they suddenly become eye-opening.
Significantly, he said:
“Trump’s victory margin in Michigan was 13,107 [votes] and the Michigan Crosscheck purge list was 449,922. Trump’s victory margin in Arizona, 85,257; Arizona Crosscheck purge list 270,824;. Trump’s victory margin in North Carolina was 177,008 and the North Carolina Crosscheck purge list had 589,393 people on it.”
Voters who showed up at the polls and found they weren’t registered were given so-called “provisional ballots.” In key swing states like Ohio, tens of thousands of provisional and absentee ballots were thrown out in the 2014 mid-term election for the smallest mistakes, according to the Cleveland Scene.
Provisional ballots were treated much the same way in Arizona, according to the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.
Beyond that, minority voters had to endure long lines and hours-long waits to vote because hundreds of polling places were closed for this election.
Harvard professor Stephen Pettigrew found in a study of the 2012 election that minority voters were six times more likely to to stand in line for over an hour before they could vote. Such tactics discourage them from voting in future elections, he concluded.
In addition to evidence of widespread voter suppression, other disturbing anomalies have surfaced.
Beside leading in the polls going into the election, Clinton was also leading in exit polls conducted by Edison Research, a marketing and research firm. It’s election day exit polling was the largest single-day project in the world, according to its Web site.
More than 3,000 exit poll interviewers, precinct vote return reporters, call center workers and analysts across the country created a record of who voted and why. More than 100,000 interviews were analyzed to come up with its results, it states.
And they’re findings were wrong.
Based on its polling, Clinton should have won 302 Electoral College votes compared with 205 for Trump. Clinton won North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida in exit polling, even though she lost those states in computerized state election counts.
Clinton also won Edison Research’s national exit poll by 3.2 percent, about the same margin predicted by a majority of pre-election polls.
Exit polls were conducted in 28 states. In 13 states, the discrepancies favoring Trump exceeded the margin of error, leading Palast to conclude that “systematic electoral rigging to steal Democrat votes” took place.
Edison wasn’t just holding up a finger to the wind. The U.S. State Department uses similar exit polling to judge the legitimacy of foreign elections.
The Brexit exit polls were extremely accurate. In the Ukraine, the United States rejected the 2004 election results because exit polling did not match with the final official count, according to the London Economic, a non-profit UK newspaper.
If such discrepancies are unacceptable in the Ukraine, why not the United States?
In North Carolina, exit polling called for a 2.1 percent Clinton victory; she lost by 3.8 percent by the state’s count.
Oddly, during the Democratic primary, African-Americans in North Carolina turned out in near record numbers to vote for Clinton. But those numbers were sharply lower in the general election when she was running against a candidate widely viewed as a racist.
In Pennsylvania a 4.4 percent exit poll victory turned into a 1.2 percent loss. In Wisconsin a 3.9 percent exit poll win turned into a 1 percent loss. The pattern was the same in Florida. A 1.1 percent Clinton victory based on exit polls turned into a 1 percent loss.
“It is statistically suspicious that in every state where Donald Trump pulled off an upset, he won it by right around one percent, just what he needed to win it, no more and no less,” said Robert Palmer, founding of The Daily News Bin, a political news site.
Palmer who closely followed the election and examined voting patterns came to the following conclusion:
“In order to believe that the official vote tallies are legitimate, you have to accept that… African-Americans in the south went from turning out in droves for Hillary Clinton in the primary to not caring if she won the general election. Donald Trump got sixty-something percent of the same-day voting in Florida. The polling averages were wrong for the first time in modern history. Trump beat his poll numbers despite having spent the primary season tending to fall below them. Clinton fell below her poll numbers despite having spent the primary season tending to beat them. In every state where Trump pulled off a shocking upset victory, he just happened to do it with one percent of the vote. And in an election that everyone cared particularly deeply about, no one really turned out to vote at all.”
At this point, the state of America’s democracy is equal to the candidate who was just elected, a low-flying, sketchy and possibly illegitimate.
In a telling essay in Time magazine, Michael Signer, Mayor of Charlottesville, Va, an attorney and University of Virginia lecturer, argues that the Electoral College was created by the founding fathers to precisely prevent the election of a dictatorial tyrant.
Alexander Hamilton was clearly talking about demagogues when he outlined the duties of the Electoral College in the Federalist Papers, Signer argues.
Trump is the closest the nation has come to just such a candidate.
Given the preponderance of evidence pointing to extreme voter suppression, electors need to weigh very carefully whether Trump is worthy of their vote over a candidate who won the national election by more than 1.5 million votes.
Short of that, Congress needs to appoint an independent, bi-partisan commission to thoroughly examine how the President is elected with an eye toward ensuring the winner reflects the will of the people as expressed by a free and fair election based on one-person-one vote.
As things stand now, our democracy is under a dark cloud.