Trump surrogate Rudolph Giuliani reached back to his experiences running for New York City mayor over 20 years ago to bolster the Trump narrative of voter fraud and an illegitimate election to save his brand from the ridicule and destruction likely to ensue from what’s likely to be an embarrassing blowout defeat.
Giuliani, appearing on CNN’s “State Of The Union With Jake Tapper” Sunday, charged that “Dead people generally vote for Democrats instead of Republicans” and that Democrats “control the inner cities” and therefore are able to rig election results. Giuliani cited a case of a bus of people who allegedly voted ten times in one unspecified election, presumably in New York.
As a veteran election lawyer, and a Republican, I argue that while there are isolated cases of discrepancies which indicate invalid voting, the entire issue of voter fraud as a means to affect the outcome of a national general election is highly implausible. I will now break down the reasons why the Trump narrative is nonsense, and explain where the real concerns are ignored! First, here are the reasons why voter fraud claims, especially weeks in advance, are pure bunk.
- The electoral college means you have one election per state. This achieves a relative decentralization that isolates fraud, hacking or other interference, no matter how widespread, to one state.
- Voter fraud through multiple voting by people cannot be achieved in secret. It requires a lot of people engaging in a pattern of fraud, and then keeping quiet about it. That just isn’t likely, not when most people who would be open to participating would gladly offer up information in exchange for immunity, or money, or whatever inducement might be offered.
- Systemic election fraud can only be achieved high up the data chain where vote totals are centralized and collected, and where the information gatekeepers are few and have the authority to direct others to take or refrain from taking actions which might reveal irregularities.
Electronic voting, particularly when an accompanying paper trail documenting votes is absent or incomplete, is particularly susceptible because the knowhow to monitor these devices is similarly centralized and concentrated in a small group of officials and technicians. See the trend of centralization as the vulnerable weak point?
Now, let’s see where the real risk to election integrity lies this year (and most elections): It’s in the local elections where the motive and opportunity exists, in part because the oversight is weak and then because the irregularities can overwhelm legitimate votes (and results).
What are solutions to this problem? Elections and the integrity of results are best protected with maximum oversight and multiple levels of result verification. Advocates of fair and open elections should explore using decentralized, consensus based blockchain technology which provides for checks and balances and allows for the ongoing verification of results and the re-verification of historical data, thus presenting a highly formidable obstacle to any attempt at data corruption.
Let us also not ignore the need to guard the gate at its easiest entry point; it’s where people enter the electoral process when they register to vote! We need equally vigorous gate keeping to ensure that only qualified voters are allowed to register to vote. That’s because once people are in the system, the system presumes their legitimacy and in almost every jurisdiction it is hard to de-register voters on the rolls. The easiest way to stop fraudulent voting, and by extension invalid election results, is to prevent illegitimate voter registration.
The solutions are out there and the technology and systems are also there to uphold the integrity of elections. What is in doubt is not the legitimacy of future results, but rather our authorities’ will to do what it takes to uphold their legitimacy.