Donald Trump's Darkest Election Legacy May Be Lasting Distrust of Voting Process

 

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ELECTIONS

Donald Trump’s Darkest Election Legacy May Be Lasting Distrust of Voting Process

Time to Stop Gaming Our Right to Fair Elections

A voter casts a ballot in the key swing state of Ohio, which Trump won in the presidential election. But confidence in the voting process has been undermined because of 'vote rigging' allegations.  (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)

A voter casts a ballot in the key swing state of Ohio, which Trump won in the presidential election. But confidence in the voting process has been undermined because of ‘vote rigging’ allegations. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s claims about a “rigged election” may be one of the darkest legacies of his presidential campaign. When citizens, by and large, can not trust the voting process by which leaders are elected, the very foundation of our democracy is threatened with collapse.

Trump’s vote fraud claims, which continue to roil two weeks after the election, are a case study in the dangers of irresponsible campaign rhetoric.

The problem is amplified even more now that Trump will soon be president. His unsubstantiated Tweet yesterday elevated to national attention a blatantly false claim that 3 million illegal immigrants cast votes in the most recent election.

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump idly boasted on the social media site.

A “collapsing structure” seems to be a fitting description of our system. This is the second time in less than 20 years the popular vote has been undermined by distortions in the Electoral College caused by state winner-take-all rules.

The mess that was the 2000 election–and the subsequent farce that was the Florida recount–laid the groundwork for the undercurrent of mistrust and corruption we’ve come to accept as commonplace in 2016.

Tampered voting machines, hanging chads, laws that made it impossible for anyone to so much as look at one of those machines, and a Supreme Court that all but handed the election to the better-connected loser, opened the Pandora’s box on widespread voter mistrust.

Fast-forward a decade and a half and we appear to have learned nothing.

Many key battleground states still don’t have a way to simply and accurately count votes. Believe it or not, the same machines that were hacked in 2000 were used in many states to tally the 2016 Presidential election.

That one, in itself, is a planetary-sized head-scratcher.

If Walmart cash registers were discovered to give out incorrect change, you can bet those machines would be tossed out immediately. Yet, when it comes to the election of our President, what’s a little unreliability here and there? And, there?

If it wasn’t so sad it would be comical. Fine, you’re right. He’s still comical.

But it’s beyond ridiculous that we still need to raise these issues in 2016. We could’ve easily spent a fraction of the trillions of dollars we’ve wasted on wars on a revamping the way we record votes in a national election.

FYI, in a recent Harvard study, U.S. elections scored lower than South Africa, Rwanda, and Brazil.

Thanks to our patented combination of incompetence and indifference, we now find ourselves in yet another foundation-destroying predicament, one that has us facing a scenario nobody thought possible, with an entirely new set of questions to boot.

Blue states turned red overnight; a candidate’s double-digit pre-election lead in several states magically disappeared on election day; a majority of females supported a misogynist candidate and the “black vote” suddenly disappeared.

As Money & Power reported a week ago, “a decade-long Republican effort to disenfranchise voters under the guise of battling voter fraud” was far more likely to undermine the November election than outside interference or hacking, according to Greg Palast, who has investigated voting patterns in the United States and Great Britain.

The newly-turned red states that blamed “low voter turnout” for Trump’s victory, may in fact, have tipped the scales in his favor.

In Wisconsin, alone, several thousand votes appear to have “accidentally” been given to Trump. No wonder Green presidential candidate Jill Stein has decided to launch her recount effort there. Trump’s lead has already shrunk to just 22,525 votes based on errors caught independently by state election officials ahead of the recount.

Stein is now considering recounts beyond Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, where Trump won by margins of around 1 percent of the vote.

And, Florida is, well, Florida. The 2000 fiasco aside, would you trust a state run by a governor who straddles the line between politician and criminal as closely and as often as Rick Scott?

Considering all that we’ve come to know about the GOP and their shameless below-the-belt tactics in the years since Bush v. Gore, it’s no wonder that Stein was able to raise $5 million in a matter of days to pay for the recounts.

In the 1988 Alan Parker film classic, “Mississippi Burning,” Gene Hackman plays a grizzled FBI agent who is criticized for using “gutter” tactics to investigate the Klu Klux Klan.

“These people crawled out of a sewer, Mr. Ward! Maybe the gutter’s where we should be!” he replies.

The recount in Wisconsin is just a start. Several prominent big city Mayors (N.Y., S.F., Chicago, Seattle, etc.) are openly defying the new administration on several issues.

Think about it: when was the last time you saw city officials, nationwide, united in defiance of federal law as they are now? And it’s about time.

Perhaps, if nothing else, Trump’s “victory” could turn out to be a blessing in disguise? After all, is there any better wake to unite disengaged voters than a bigot in the White House, and a white supremacist as Chief of Staff?

The Wisconsin recount, even if it affirms Trump’s victory, is a testament to people holding their government accountable.

Were there illegalities, subterfuge and downright fuck-ups with this latest election? Thanks to the Trump’s constant harping on “vote rigging” we just don’t know.

As Stein has said, her effort is simply to reaffirm our confidence in the voting process.

It’s the 21st Century, for Christ’s sake. Cars can drive themselves and razor blades cost $1. It’s time to put a system in place that accurately counts votes–of everyone who votes–and put an end to gaming our most fundamental right–to choose our leaders in free and fair elections.