Republicans Steal An Election
by James Kroeger
Just before Al Gore’s
final concession in 2000, I was arguing that the issue was no longer
whether or not Al Gore should be President of the United States. Something else had
suddenly become far more important. America's sacred
democratic institutions were being desecrated by the actions of the
Republican Party. It is not the number of votes that are
counted on Election Day that matters; it's the process
that's carried out on election day that matters. Which
candidate happens to win on a particular vote-counting day must
ultimately be secondary to the supreme importance of preserving the
sacred reputation of our democratic institutions.
After all, we are
constantly being told that we ought to be willing to die in
order to protect our right to vote. That's a pretty high level
of sanctity. But having the right to vote doesn't mean much if
your vote is not counted or if it is rendered meaningless by the
cheating actions of organized gangs. We cannot possibly take
the words of politicians seriously when they speak of the supreme
achievement of democracy unless they act to provide us with the
highest possible standards of assurance that our votes will
all be counted, and that no party has been able to cheat its way
What can be done?
Well, there have been fewer and fewer commercial airplane crashes
over the years because of the continuing efforts that have been made
to eliminate mistakes, mistakes that have ultimately caused flight
disasters. It is amazing that Americans do not generally
demand that the same kind of effort be made to ensure that elections
are almost completely fraud-proof. At the very least, we are
going to have to return to the paper ballot if no other options can
be shown to provide the same level of re-verifiability that saved
ballots can provide.
may be needed during any re-vote that is necessary because of a
close outcome, including having multiple representatives of each
party jointly monitoring the physical status of every ballot until a
final vote has finally satisfied the vast majority of the
electorate. How many times should we carry out a re-vote?
As many times as might be necessary to correct all of the errors
that are being made. In other words, we have to reach the
point where the losing party is satisfied with the conduct of
the vote (assuming that any disputed votes could possibly have
affected the outcome of the vote). If they keep coming up with
legitimate reasons for calling for a re-vote, then we should
continue to schedule them. Once we get it right, the
complaints will stop and the vast majority of people will be
satisfied with the outcome.
Re-votes are not an
inconvenience or a costly bother; they are an absolute necessity
in a democracy. Those who have some
knowledge of political history should be able to point out
that the whole point and purpose of Democracy is to pacify minority
factions. When Democratic institutions work as intended, the
losers are confronted with evidence that they do not have the
support of the majority of the population. (On a visceral
level, people tend to respect the principle that “the majority
rules.”) Without compelling evidence, like that which an
honestly held election can provide, [large] minority
factions might otherwise persuade themselves that they
actually have the right to govern, that they actually
represent the will of the majority of the population.
serious doubts about the fairness of an election exist, and the
losing faction represents close to 50% of the population, the risk
war increases dramatically. Civic leaders who possess
some wisdom (apparently lacking among the editors of many U.S.
newspapers) should be able to recognize that nothing can be more important
than reassuring the losers of an election that they lost fairly.
If the losers cannot be reassured after a close election
that they lost fairly, large numbers of the population can be
lose their faith in the integrity of their national institutions
and perhaps even
their respect for the rule of law. If they perceive their
rulers to be illegitimate, why wouldn't they also begin to see
the laws enacted by
those fraudulent rulers as equally illegitimate?
When the members of
a political party believe that they lost an election fairly, they are far more
likely to focus on their own inadequacies and on ways to improve the persuasiveness of their message.
Respect for national institutions is maintained. Civic leaders who
value domestic tranquility, the rule of law, and peaceful
transitions of power need to understand that it is not just a good
idea to ensure that all voting practices & procedures are absolutely
transparent; it's a matter of vital cultural importance. All voting outcomes
must be provable, not
to the satisfaction of the winners, but to the satisfaction of the
Indeed, it ought to be
important to the winning party that the losers be completely
reassured that they lost fairly, for they will have a much
better chance of governing successfully if they are not dealing with
the passionate fury of people who believe they were cheated out of
their fundamental rights. Even if there is not an obvious
immediate threat of armed insurrection, wise civic leaders should
know that the time to prevent a civil war is long before it has a
chance to develop into a serious crisis. They should be more
than eager to palliate any simmering anger that has even the
slightest chance of blowing up
into social chaos over time.
Still, some have argued that
computers should be used to register votes electronically because it
reduces the amount of time needed to tally the votes and because it
reduces costs. But cost-reduction and time-efficiency should
be the very last things that any election authority should concern
itself with. The faith of the people in their democratic
institutions is at stake. No conceivable efficiency-in-voting
is worth the risk of alienating the electorate. Surely
America, one of the richest nations in all of history, can afford
the extra expense of voting practices that produce provable voting
outcomes (to the satisfaction of the losing party), even though they
may be more costly to implement.
earnest efforts to "purify" the electoral process, we will finally
end up with election protocols that will virtually guarantee that
election results are accurate and fairly obtained. But we will
only be able to achieve that level of voting process integrity if we
make the satisfaction of the losing party primary
before all other considerations.
political analysis by James Kroeger:
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