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November 03, 2020

The Fairness of the Election Will Not Be Determined by Who Gets Elected

This morning the Dallas Democratic and Republican chairs issued a joint statement which reads in part:

Joint statement

I’ve never known my friends to be so anxious about our national future. This includes both friends who are voting for Biden and those who are voting for Trump (yes, I have friends who are voting for Trump.) Starting today, election day, is time for us all to calmly assure that our processes are followed and that the will of the voters, as expressed through electoral college votes, is respected.

All of my friends (but not everyone) are passionate about protecting our rights and our democracy. Each side believes, to an extent I’ve never seen before, that 1) election of the candidate they oppose will lead to the end of America we would know it; 2) that the other side is attempting to win in undemocratic ways. Many Democrats believe that Trump will refuse to leave even if defeated (he deserves a lot of the blame for this feeling) and will become a dictator especially if elected fairly to a second term. Many Republicans believe that Biden, if elected, will be steam-rolled by the anti-democratic, anti-free speech, anti-police far left of his party; and that a disarmed citizenry? will be left at the mercy of rampaging mobs.

Since both sides passionately believe what they believe, almost everyone is terrified. One side or the other is going to have to make the best of whomever is elected. The best way to assure that our Democracy does survive is to accept the results of the election and then work for what you believe in and against what you don’t. You do expect the other side to accept defeat, don’t you?  They are just as afraid as you are.

Obviously both sides are striving for electoral advantage and would like the election rules to be interpreted in a way that gives them the most votes or their opponents the least. It looks like we will have record turnout, which is a good thing, even though mailed-out unrequested ballots do increase the risk of fraud. In many states it is easier to vote than ever before although still not as easy as some people would like. People who previously were disenfranchised, like convicted felons in Florida, will be able to vote for the first time.

It is true that Trump supporters would prefer that some of these expansions of the electorate not take place because they suspect, probably correctly, that these new voters will favor Biden. It is also true that the Democratic Party’s passion for increasing the voter rolls and fighting even reasonable attempts to protect against fraud is motivated more by a quest for votes than a quest for justice. Let’s be honest with ourselves. From the record early turnout, it does not appear that voter suppression is very successful, at least not in most places.

Thought experiment: Do you expect Democratic lawyers to fight to make sure Trump ballots are not unreasonably invalidated? Do you expect Republicans to fight for Biden ballots? That’s not the way the system works. As they always have, each side will fight to invalidate questionable opponent ballots and to validate questionable ballots on their side. That’s not fraud. That’s the way a competitive system works. We do, however, have a right to expect that, when these disputes reach the courts, they will be adjudicated in a non-partisan way no matter whose appointee the judge is.

Hopefully we are ready to block hacking interference, foreign or domestic, with the polling process itself. If there is significant fraud, we must face it, not deny it. If there is intimidation at the polls, it must be dealt with harshly today, election day, no matter which side or sides the instigators come from. Both sides have radical fringes who believe our system is corrupt and must fall; we cannot let the fringe conspiracy beliefs, sincere or not, drive us into post-election hysteria and tear the country further apart.

I’m afraid we may not know the election results for a couple of weeks; hope I’m wrong but remember Bush v Gore when only one state was in doubt. This year, because of both politics and Covid, we’ve had the biggest one-cycle change in election procedure ever in many states. Then results are going to take time to sort out whether Trump likes it or not. More mail-in than in-person ballots will be invalidated because mail-in is more complicated; this has happened in every election and is not sure proof of voter suppression.

It’s hard to accept in our partisan passion but the fairness of the election will not be judged by who gets elected.

Good luck to America.

Also see: Are You Ready to Accept Defeat at the Polls?

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