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When The 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 into power.

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.

Extraordinary measures 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.

When serious doubts about the fairness of an election exist, and the losing faction represents close to 50% of the population, the risk of civil 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 expected to 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 losers.

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.

Through repeated, 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. 



More trenchant political analysis by James Kroeger:

Middle East Peace Talks: Will Israel Bring Lasting Peace To The Region?

Reclaim the Moral High Ground

Democrat Image Makeover

When the Republicans steal an election

Our Soldiers Are Victims

Are You Proud To Be An American?


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