As we ramp up for another presidential election, we gird ourselves for heated rhetoric, bad media, and disappointments. We embrace all this because we believe in the redemption of voting, of listening to our fellow citizens, and that better days are ahead if we participate in the process our founders set up. It’s part of being a good American.
But as I have documented extensively, elections aren’t fair here in America. There’s the outrageous cost to run for office, an array of voter suppression laws preventing people from voting, and we still can’t guarantee the integrity of the election results.
So while we trade barbs over Medicare For All or electability or ideological purity, it might serve us well to remember what happed in 2016. The democratic candidate was well ahead in all the polls. No one, even GOP officials, expected Donald Trump to win.
And then, three states which hadn't gone Republican in 25 years suddenly went Republican. Less than 80,000 votes total. In 2018 following the midterm elections, we spent weeks counting the votes for accuracy. Had we done so in 2016 we might have had a different result.
In 2020, don’t give Jill Stein more money for a recount that won’t happen. Just make sure to count the ballots right the first time before conceding.
That means people in those states have to get involved. Election officials’ only responsibility is to the voters in their district. Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, were won by 80,000 votes. With ongoing revelations surrounding Russia’s involvement is widespread disinformation and propaganda campaigns, it’s clear that the widespread malfeasance had an impact of the electorate; what’s still unknown is how secure those election results were on Election Night 2016.
As we illustrated in FREE FOR ALL!, the election reporting process in Ohio on election night 2004 allowed for a man in the middle, Michael Connell, to circumvent the actual results with data saying that Bush won. Now there is information that Mike Connell worked with Paul Manafort in 2004 on the U.S. and the Ukrainian elections, which proved to be a petri dish for the campaigns that Manafort would run for Trump.
it is quite reasonable to not have complete faith in how the 2016 election night results were reported. Part of the strategy is to announce results that will deter the Democrat from contesting the results—like John Kerry did. In 2012 Karl Rove became unglued on FOX News on election night when Ohio was called around 7 pm. Rove may have been waiting for a little later in the evening to make that switch that had happened before, after 9 pm.
In 2016, the states were called early and exit polls have long been disavowed by the media since 2004, when exit polls had indicted a win by John Kerry.
It will be along year before the Iowa caucuses in 2020. We need to spend that time focusing on election integrity and fighting voter suppression more than tearing down fellow Democrats over minor policy differences or a gaffe that will be forgotten by the next news cycle.