Fraud at the Polls?

Published: September 20, 2022

By Jim Lichtman
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The cancer of false conspiracies, lies, and cynicism eating away at the Republic—lies propagated and fed by the former president and his allies—has metastasized to many Republicans running for office in state elections.

The New York Times writes, “When asked, six Trump-backed Republican nominees for governor and the Senate in midterm battlegrounds would not commit to accepting this year’s election results, and another six Republicans ignored or declined to answer a question about embracing the November outcome. All of them, along with many other G.O.P. candidates, have pre-emptively cast doubt on how their states count votes.”

Senate candidates, “Ted Budd in North Carolina, Blake Masters in Arizona, Kelly Tshibaka in Alaska and J.D. Vance in Ohio all declined to commit to accepting the 2022 results. So did Tudor Dixon, the Republican nominee for governor of Michigan, and Geoff Diehl, who won the G.O.P. primary for governor of Massachusetts this month.”

Mirroring a scene from Citizen Kane, the Trump theory goes like this: if a Trump-backed candidate wins, the election was legitimate; if they lose, it’s fraud. In the case of Kane’s bid for state governor, people accepted the truth. Today, however, truth is literally trumped by fraud.

However, as The Times points out, “Darren Bailey, the Republican nominee for governor of Illinois — who said in a June interview that he did not know if the 2020 election had been decided fairly — responded that ‘yes,’ he would accept the 2022 result.” As would Nevada Senate candidate Adam Laxalt.”

Senate candidates Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Herschel Walker in Georgia said they also would accept the results.

In a ceremony honoring new US citizens, Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed the issues before us.

“The Rule of Law is not assured. It is fragile. It demands constant effort and vigilance. The responsibility to ensure the Rule of Law is and has been the duty of every generation in our country’s history. It is now your duty as well. And it is one that is especially urgent today at a time of intense polarization in America…

“Overcoming the current polarization in our public life is and will continue to be, a difficult task. But we cannot overcome it by ignoring it. We must address the fractures in our society with honesty, with humility, and with respect for the Rule of Law. This demands that we tolerate peaceful disagreement with one another on issues of politics and policy. It demands that we listen to each other, even when we disagree. And it demands that we reject violence and threats of violence that endanger each other and endanger our democracy. We must not allow the fractures between us to fracture our democracy.”

At the end of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was leaving Independence Hall when a member of the crowd that had gathered shouted, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”

“A republic,” Franklin said, . . . if you can keep it.”

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