We are now a little under two weeks away from election day, that sweet, sweet day of relief where the 2016 election will finally conclude after the absolute atrocity that it has been.
The polls will close across the United States the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 8, as we all cuddle together in bunkers underneath our homes awaiting CNN’s holographic electoral college map to light up red and blue.
The next morning we will wake up knowing we elected a new president, and everything will officially be over. Unless, you know, Donald Trump doesn’t accept the results of the election and releases a tweet firestorm on the American people.
The Republican nominee recently said at the third presidential debate when asked by moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News if he would commit to accept the results of the presidential debate that he would keep us all in suspense.
This would mark the first time Trump has kept us all in suspense, so we’re not even sure what that could look like. The day after the debate, Trump said he would accept the election results … if he won. Ah! He was so close to not making yet another mockery of our democratic system.
Everyone was awestruck. How could Trump, of all people, not intend to accept the results of the election? It’s surprising that a man who’s not a fan of a free press and peaceful protest wouldn’t be a fan of accepting the results of the election. Truly a shocking moment in political history.
But what is it that’s preventing Trump from embracing the election results? Could it be his dwindling poll numbers? Or is it more sinister than that?
For a while now, Trump has claimed the election is rigged. First, what does it even mean that the election is “rigged?” This question came up as part of the FiveThirtyEight election podcast where Clare Malone, senior political writer for FiveThirtyEight, says Trump is “most likely talking about voter fraud.”
We have a baseline –– Trump is talking about voter fraud. Or he could be talking about a large-scale, coordinated effort by Hillary Clinton and her body doubles to go out and vote at every single polling place in the U.S. Truly; that woman will stop at nothing.
So exactly how likely is voter fraud? “The Truth About Voter Fraud,” published by the Brennan Center for Justice, reviewed elections that had been studied for voter fraud and found “incident rates between 0.00004 percent and 0.0009 percent.” That number is so low that I’m having trouble finding an apt comparison for it.
You’re more likely to find an empty parking space at WKU than finding an occurrence of voter fraud, and that’s saying something.
A Columbia University study tracked incidence rates for voter fraud over a period of two years and found that when fraud was reported it could generally be traced to “false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief and administrative or voter error.”
Rick Hasen, founder of the Election Law Blog and author of “The Voting Wars,” told NPR in order to pull off the sort of rigged election Trump talks about, you’d have to coordinate millions of people in large swing states to achieve such a feat.
None of that actually matters, but then again when has factual information mattered in this campaign? A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that a “large majority of Republican respondents say voter fraud is a bigger problem than restricted access to voting is.”
Specifically, 66 percent of Republicans believe voter fraud is a bigger problem than voter disenfranchisement.
Trump is rallying his base around the idea that the election will be rigged; meanwhile real people can’t vote at all. Now that’s a rigged election.
Ari Berman of The Nation is one of America’s leading experts on voter rights and suppression. The man’s work is a must read. For example, in Wisconsin, city officials refused to place an early voting site at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay because “students lean more toward the Democrats.”
He has also spent time reporting in North Carolina where Republican officials gutted 238 hours of early voting in Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County, which has a huge effect on African-Americans voting.
You want to talk about a rigged election? Talk about these blatant forms of disenfranchisement and unnecessary hurdles to get to the polls.
In a sense, Trump is right. The election is rigged. But not against him – it’s rigged against us.