Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Fact Check: Whose Job Is It To Prove Fraud?

I’d like to give you a different perspective on the 2020 election.  By now you’ve heard that roughly half the country believes the election was fraudulent.  The other half believes it was fair and accurate.  How are we supposed to sort this out? 

I don’t intend to make the case either way.  That’s been done by more capable and knowledgeable people than me.  If you are interested in some of the stronger arguments for fraud they are here and here and here.  And if you are interested in the case that the election was fair, read this, and this, and this.  

My point has to do with the burden of proof.  The Republicans claiming fraud are doing what they can in the extremely short time-frame to “prove” the case that the election was decided by fraud.  And the Democrats claiming a fair election are saying there is no “proof” that fraud occurred.  On its face, this framing seems reasonable.  But a closer look reveals why this is backwards, and is actually a dagger to the heart of the Republic.

Consider: if the government charges you with a crime, it is up to them to prove you did it.  If they fail to prove the case, you are deemed “not guilty’ and are set free.  You are small and the government is big, so that’s the way it has to be in a free country.  Otherwise, government tyranny can run roughshod over the powerless people.

Like criminal courts, elections are run by governments.  Voters have no power other than their lone vote.  That’s it.  Fair and trustworthy elections are the glue that holds the Republic together.  Without them, governments can just pick their own successors and the whole idea of democracy is moot.  So whose job is it to prove elections are fair and trustworthy?  Who has the burden of proof, the voters or the government?

Prior to 2020, this was never an issue.  Voting was mostly done in-person, many states required a government ID, most states required a signature, and every step was done under bipartisan observation.  Everyone agreed elections were mostly fair and trustworthy, with a few exceptions in historically one-party places known for old-fashioned ballot-stuffing and non-citizen voting.

But 2020 changed all that.  Two centuries of election integrity practices were thrown out the window ostensibly over COVID.  The upshot is that most votes this time were not in-person,  ID’s could not possibly be checked, there was no signature matching, envelopes were separated from ballots without any way to audit them , chain of custody was non-existent, ballots were then scanned into a machine with proprietary software, the machine data and software was easily accessible through a USB port, and the machines may have been connected to a vote tallying system on the internet. Moreover, in many one-party places, observers from the other party were not allowed anywhere near the actual vote counting. 

There is no way to audit such an election.  There is no way to prove it was free of fraud and trustworthy.  It is not the voter’s or the candidate's job to prove fraud.  It is the government's job to prove they are running a fair and trustworthy election, and this time they absolutely cannot.  Period.  That’s the issue.  

So what’s the remedy?  Obviously, a fair election is the proper remedy - an auditable and trackable redo in the disputed states.  In the age of overnight vaccine development, blockchain cryptocurrencies, and billions in secure stock trades every minute, I think we can probably develop a secure voting system by January 20th.  

Because if you can’t prove votes are legal, if you can’t reconcile the number of legal votes and the number of ballots, if there's no chain of custody, if voters can't verify their votes were properly recorded, if you can’t audit the machines and software, if you can’t observe the process at every step, and if you can’t trust the entire election from top to bottom, then You. Don’t. Have. A. Republic.       

1 comment: