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The Big Lie Revisited

The main-stream media has repeated almost daily that  Donald Trump and several important MAGA-friendly organizations  continue to support the so-called “big lie,”  namely,  that the 2020 election was stolen. They also repeat almost daily  that this conclusion about that election  is totally bogus  since   “no evidence” of substantial election fraud  was  ever uncovered in the  65+ lawsuits filed after the election; Trump and his supporters lost them all.  The election was stolen?  What nonsense. It’s all “delusional thinking” and irrational conspiracy theory. Case closed.

Well not quite.

The American Bar Association (ABA) has published a list of the legal filings that challenged the results of the 2020 election and a summary of the court findings in each case.  It makes for very interesting reading.

The most important lesson to be drawn from  these  case summaries is that the bulk of them  have (almost) nothing to do with the  alleged evidence concerning  voter and election fraud.  And the reason for this is reasonably clear. Fraud is  itself  an extremely difficult legal matter to litigate; along with any relevant empirical evidence, the legal concepts of due diligence and “intent” would have to be fully explored.  Moreover, any  determination of election and/or voter  fraud  would have  required (at a very minimum)  a so-called “evidentiary hearing”  where the court would  take testimony under oath  from expert witnesses;  accept and evaluate  properly supported affidavits; evaluate any relevant election data analysis,  and explore the  murky issue of “intent” (by elected officials and others) at some length.  To my knowledge,  none of this process or analysis occurred in any systematic manner in any of the 65  post-2020 election challenge cases.

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So what were these cases really about?  My reading of the summaries convinces me that the courts were concerned almost exclusively  with what are termed “procedural issues” and not with the actual substance of what would  constitute election fraud.  For example, the so-called issue of “standing” is procedural. Does a  particular plaintiff have the legal right  to bring this  action?  If the answer is “no” then the entire case is summarily dismissed.  (This happened in several  of the challenge cases). This, of course,  is a perfectly appropriate ruling but it has  nothing  whatsoever to do with the issue of substantial fraud one way or the other.

In another one of the 65 cases,  the judge actually asked why the plaintiff  could not have filed suit before the election regarding some alleged problem in the way the voting process was likely to be administered.  “Too late now” the judge said, in effect.  Case dismissed.  One judge actually asserted that any complaints about the legitimate certification of the election (in Georgia)  were all now “moot” since “the election results… had already been certified.”  But the issue of “certification legitimacy” was the very concept that the plaintiffs were challenging! Unbelievable.

Several of the cases concerned the constitutionality of mail-in ballots (no problem said the court) the lateness of counting mail-in ballots (no problem) the absence of observers during voting and tabulating (no problem)  the placement and number of “drop boxes (no problem) and dozens of other disputed “administrative” decisions and procedures that the court found to be, you guessed it, no problem to legitimizing certification.  On procedural issues and the law,  the courts simply deferred to the states and their election boards every time.

The courts almost unanimously held the view that the state election apparatus followed the  spirit (if not the exact letter) of the law and that they  (the courts) were not about to “set aside the popular vote” simply because, as in Georgia, thousands of votes may have been cast by non-residents. But the real substantive question was: Were they?   Too late for that question the  court opined; the results have already been certified.  Yikes.

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So was the election stolen?  Let’s single out a particularly egregious issue which was debated in several of the challenge cases:  the problems associated with signature verification of mail-in ballots. Now, even assuming that there were some legitimate problems here, were they  substantial enough either to constitute fraud or to actually swing the election in key battleground states?  Impossible to know from reading the case summaries.   What we do know  is that the courts took surprisingly little interest in actually exploring any  of these substantive issues  in any depth,   Which means, unfortunately, that the so-called integrity of the most “free and fair” election in U.S. history is still unresolved.