Conspiracy theories aside, election integrity matters
10/24/2022 Clark County, WA by Frank DeVito
There is a right way and a wrong way for Republicans to talk about election integrity. Democrats have done a good job of creating straw man versions of the stolen election narrative, painting all who question the integrity of our elections as conspiracy theorists. Such narratives focus on theories about Dominion voting machines switching votes to Joe Biden, as well as suspicions that unusually high turnout in Democratic strongholds and Biden’s failure to win bellwether counties must be evidence of a steal.
Republicans need to focus on the most demonstrable and serious problems, not get distracted by playing into vague generalizations about a "stolen" election. In particular, the focus needs to be on the actual, proven criminal violations that were prosecuted in the aftermath of the 2020 election. People were prosecuted all across the country for duplicate voting and other types of fraud at polling places and in the use of mail-in ballots. There is no need to speculate on whether there were enough criminal acts or stolen votes to change the outcome. The simple fact is that there were thousands of acts of voter fraud in the election, and we must tighten up laws and enforcement to stop this.
The other focus must be on the last-minute changes to election laws throughout the states in the run-up to the 2020 election. For example, in Pennsylvania, the secretary of state (approved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court) changed the rules in the final months before the election. The election code required that mail-in ballots be received by the close of the polls on Election Day, which somehow was changed to the Friday after Election Day. COVID-19 and a slow post office evidently allowed the government to override the law. There was also a change allowing county boards of election to create unmanned drop boxes for ballots and call the boxes branch offices of the election board. These changes bent the election code passed by the legislature in unacceptable ways and transformed the mechanism of voting at the eleventh hour. These changes occurred all across the nation.
In addition to the actual consequences of criminal voter fraud and sudden changes to election law, it is critically important to prevent the appearance of corruption and fraud. We must have a republic where the election process is secure and stable — and where the citizens believe the election is secure and stable. Creating a situation in which voting laws change quickly and dubiously and ballots can be mailed or stuffed in drop boxes leads people to question if fair elections are truly taking place. This is dangerous for the health of the nation.
With these emphases in mind, Republicans need to fight back. When the left-wing media repeatedly attempt to paint Republican candidates as extremist “stolen election” adherents, Republicans need to be smart and clear while refusing to back down. They need to say,
“No, we are not obsessed with overturning the 2020 election. There have been thousands of instances of criminally prosecuted voter fraud. There have been massive changes to the law allowing ballots to be sent through the mail and stuffed in drop boxes in massive numbers. People are able to vote without providing ID. This not only opens the system up to more and more complex opportunities for voter fraud, but it creates a situation in which people are losing faith in the election process. So, yes, we insist on election integrity. We demand that, absent good reason, citizens exercise their duty by going to the polls, showing their IDs, and voting in person. This is not extremism. This protects our democratic republic, and we will not back down.”
Frank DeVito is an attorney and a former member of the Northampton County, Pennsylvania, Election Commission.