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The American Independent

GOP lawmakers keep proving they don't understand how elections work

Lawyers for Detroit said objections in GOP affidavits were ‘grounded in an extraordinary failure to understand how elections function.’

By Donna Provencher - November 19, 2020
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)

In a Twitter tirade Wednesday night, Donald Trump fired off an accusation that Wisconsin officials violated the rules during the Nov. 3 presidential election — because they didn’t stop counting votes when he was winning.

In railing against the way the 2020 election was conducted, Trump joins other Republican lawmakers in betraying a failure to understand how the voting process is conducted.

Tweeting a graph showing that President-elect Joe Biden received a boost from a “data dump” of 143,379 votes in the early hours of Nov. 4, Trump expressed outrage that those votes were counted.

“Look at this in Wisconsin!” he tweeted alongside the image. “A day AFTER the election, Biden receives a dump of 143,379 votes at 3:42 a.m., when they learned he was losing badly. This is unbelievable!”

His tirade failed to take into account that vote tallies continue to be submitted as counties finish counting ballots, and that the graph indicates nothing except that ballots were still in the process of being counted when the state showed an initial Trump lead.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has also come under fire this week for alleged ethics violations that betray a baseline misunderstanding of the election process.

Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, said this week that Graham implied on a phone call to him that he should throw out thousands of legal votes in counties with a high rate of mismatched ballot signatures.

“It was just an implication of, ‘Look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out,'” Raffensperger said.

But the absentee voting process in Georgia only requires that a voter be notified and asked for further explanation if a discrepancy exists between a ballot signature and the voter’s past signatures on record.

According to the New York Times, absentee ballots and envelopes containing signatures are separated upon arrival to make sure the privacy of the voter’s ballot is protected. Because of this, Georgia’s vote recount cannot reverify signatures because there is no way to match the already-separated ballots and envelopes back up.

Earlier this week, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) appeared on the “Fox Across America” radio show and complained about voters who are not present in the states in which they are registered casting ballots.

“I believe there are countless examples of fraud,” Gaetz said. “And to me, one of the big ones is this universe of tens of thousands of voters that have moved out of their state and they’ve literally filled out change of address forms and yet they’re voting in their old state.”

But what Gaetz describes is a common occurrence. Absentee ballots are frequently cast by active-duty military families and college students — many of whom reside elsewhere and are legally permitted to vote in their home states.

GOP lawmakers have consistently tried to disenfranchise such voters. In early November, the Nevada Republican Party filed a complaint with Attorney General Bill Barr accusing more than 1,000 active-duty military voters of committing voter fraud.

Their crime? Legally voting by absentee ballot in their state of residence, even though they reside on military posts elsewhere.

On Nov. 10, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) seemed to think he’d come up with a great idea to protect election integrity.

He tweeted a suggestion that states should conduct risk-limiting audits by assessing a sample of several thousand votes.

But as Wired reports, risk-limiting audits had already been planned in five states in 2020 — including Paul’s home state of Kentucky.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) also came up with a great idea for elections that others had already had.

On Nov. 10, Hawley introduced a new bill to “protect the integrity” of American elections by requiring mail-in ballots to be tallied upon arrival, before Election Day.

He seemed unaware that such a safeguard had already been repeatedly proposed by state Democrats, who had foreseen an unprecedented influx of absentee votes in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. These measures had already been widely rejected by Republicans.

Republicans in the Pennsylvania state Legislature blocked all efforts by Democrats to process ballots before Election Day, slowing down their vote count.

And although Michigan state law allowed for a small amount of early processing to take place in very large counties (and only 10 hours early), that was the best compromise the state’s Republican-led Legislature would offer.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy repeatedly said during a press conference Nov. 4 that no one should vote after Election Day — falsely implying that counting absentee ballots that arrive after the election means accepting votes cast after the election.

“Do you agree with the president, should they stop counting votes?” a reporter asked McCarthy on.

“Again, your questions never change,” answered McCarthy. “What the president wants to make sure is that every legal vote is counted. The people vote up until Election Day, not the days after, as others would have.”

But no state allows for votes to be cast after Election Day. And, the New York Times reports, 22 states and the District of Columbia allow for mail-in ballots to be counted after Election Day if postmarked prior to Election Day.

In another glaring example of Republicans not seeming to understand how elections work, Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) and 38 other House members who disliked the election’s outcome complained to the Department of Justice.

In a letter addressed to Attorney General William Barr and sent on Nov. 6, the Congress members urged the DOJ to investigate — in the absence of any evidence — voter fraud in every single state.

“It is time for you to use the resources of the Department to ensure that the process is conducted in a manner that is fully consistent with state and federal law,” they said.

In response to a lawsuit filed by Trump supporters against Wayne County, Michigan, and the city of Detroit earlier this month, lawyers for the city summed up the major deficiency in Republican arguments for the existence of voter fraud in court filings.

“Most of the objections raised in the submitted affidavits are grounded in an extraordinary failure to understand how elections function.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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