Last updated on November 12th, 2020 at 11:05 am
There’s been a headlong rush over the past 72 hours to declare Joe Biden the President-elect of the United States. This represents nothing but an abject lesson in media bias. Not a single state in America has yet certified its election results. Most states are still counting ballots. Some states are likely headed to a recount because the results are so close. Litigation challenging the legality of ballots has been filed, and other lawsuits concerning systemic issues about ballot counting are expected this week.
All of this is being ignored by the media. Because Joe Biden is leading the ballot counting so far, the media and Democrats are calling for President Trump to concede the election and for Republicans – not to mention people around the world – to rally around Biden as the presumptive next President of the United States.
Would this same media echo exist if the positions were reversed? If President Trump had a lead of a few thousand votes over Joe Biden in each of a handful of states, would the media and Democrat politicians be calling on Biden to concede and for Democrats to rally around President Trump? Of course not.
The counting of ballots takes time. This is exasperated by the decision by Democrat officials in several states to mail ballots to every registered voter. The process must be allowed to play itself out. Here is where we stand at the moment:
According to the latest numbers from the Associated Press, Joe Biden holds a lead in several critical swing states. If that lead remains, he will become the President-elect. But he is not yet the President-elect despite what the AP and other media are calling him.
Ballot counting in key states continues. Biden’s lead in Arizona is now only about 17,000 votes. It once was over 90,000 votes. There are apparently over 70,000 votes yet to be counted. If Biden ends up losing Arizona in the final count, his 290 projected electoral college votes would drop to 279, while Trump’s would increase by 11 votes. In Wisconsin, which the media has declared went for Biden, there is likely to be a recount of votes. Until the count is finalized, Biden’s electoral college vote drops by 10, putting him under the required 270 needed for election. In Georgia, where Biden leads by about 10,000 votes, a recount is a virtual certainty. Already, a computer “glitch” improperly awarded Joe Biden about 7,000 votes that were cast for President Trump. Supposedly this discrepancy has been fixed and the vote tally corrected, but the same system was used in numerous other Georgia counties as well as other states. The winner of the recount will pick up Georgia’s 16 electoral college votes. In Pennsylvania, where Biden leads by about 45,000 votes and the media has declared him the winner, a major contest is currently underway concerning provisional ballots. (See the discussion below.) This is addition to litigation already pending at the US Supreme Court over thousands of ballots that state officials have counted that arrived after Election Day in violation of state statutes. Meanwhile, Trump continues to lead in North Carolina and many wonder why the media is so slow to call that state for Trump. Once the North Carolina vote is final, he should pick up their 15 electoral college votes. Trump has a huge lead in Alaska – two to one over Biden – and he’ll get that state’s 3 electoral college votes. (Again, why is a state voting 62% for President Trump not being called for Trump?)
In addition to needing to wait to count all the ballots before declaring a winner, there also are a number of current and potential legal issues to resolve. Half a dozen important lawsuits are in the works in Pennsylvania alone. Let’s look at them.
As noted, Pennsylvania state judges declared that mail votes postmarked by Election Day could arrive up to three days after Election Day and still be counted. This violates state statutes. The US Supreme Court, by a 4-4 vote, declined to resolve this case before Election Day, but ordered that those ballots be segregated so they can potentially be removed from the count. With Amy Coney Barrett now fully seated on the Court, Republicans hope that the Supreme Court will issue a ruling in their favor.
Also in Pennsylvania, a process exists for voters to cast “provisional ballots” on Election Day even if they do not have proper identification. The law gives voters until yesterday, November 9th, to “cure” their ballots by providing proper identification. The Secretary of State, a Democrat, announced that she would extend this deadline by three days until November 12th, but a state judge has ordered her to segregate those ballots so she can rule on the issue.
Another Pennsylvania case involves provisional ballots cast by people on Election Day who also sent absentee or mail-in ballots. Apparently, some Democrats think that both ballots should be counted.
There are at least two lawsuits pending that allege that Republican observers have been denied any meaningful opportunity to view the counting of ballots in violation of law.
In Arizona, the Trump campaign alleges that thousands of Trump votes were invalidated when poll workers told voters to hit a green button after voting machines detected a problem with their ballots. Doing this erased their vote for Trump.
In Michigan, lawsuits complain of lack of GOP access to ballot counting.
In Nevada, the Trump campaign complains that over 3,000 votes were illegally cast by people who were ineligible to vote because they no longer resided in the state. Further, numerous Trump supporters claim that their mail ballots were stolen and cast by somebody else, a development only discovered when they showed up at polling places to cast an in-person ballot.
The volume of litigation is very likely to increase as the week progresses. Many Trump supporters point to all the alleged cases of errors or outright fraud that is occurring as evidence that the election is being stolen from Donald Trump. Indeed, that is what President Trump himself alleges. It is important for the legal process to play itself out and that the Trump campaign be able make its case in court.
But at the same time, it is also important to recognize that a legal case can only be established based on evidence. The Trump campaign has the burden of showing in its many lawsuits that it can produce the evidence of fraud, malfeasance or illegal activity. Further, they must establish that the degree of this activity is sufficient to change the outcome in a particular state. For example, it’s not enough to prove that some 3,000 people in Nevada voted who were ineligible, because Trump currently trails in Nevada by over 36,000 votes. Even if all the alleged ineligible votes were attributed to Biden, it still would not make a difference in the outcome.
Speaking of evidence, it is concerning that many conservatives are being targeted by various Internet memes with misinformation about alleged conspiracies concerning the balloting.
One allegation that swarmed through the Internet was the idea that ballots were being counted that lacked a secret watermark supposedly printed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). But the DHS is not involved in printing state ballots. Ballots are printed by the individual states.
A legitimate and completely understandable concern exists surrounding the voting software used in Georgia that improperly recorded 7,000 votes for Biden that were actually cast for Trump. This is a major issue that must be thoroughly examined because that same software has been used in many other Georgia counties and in dozens of other states. Georgia officials called it a “glitch” that has been fixed. Naturally, this must be rigorously examined in every jurisdiction where the software was used, and I assume that Trump officials and state election officials are doing exactly that. So far, there is no other case that has come forth where whatever “glitch” happened in Georgia has occurred elsewhere. Despite this, Internet conspiracy theorists are claiming that every place where this software was used also has compromised voting results.
Another election concern got its start on a Steve Bannon podcast held on Election Day where a retired general alleged that he had information of a massive conspiracy being carried out by a supercomputer named “Hammer” and a computer program called “Scorecard” that was designed to change or manufacture votes. Supposedly this program was developed by the CIA and used to impact voting results in foreign nations, but had been deployed by unknown operators in the 2020 US presidential election. One prominent pro-Trump lawyer, Sidney Powell, alleged yesterday that the computer program may have changed 3% of all votes and deployed algorithms to calculate how many Biden votes were needed in key states like Michigan to give him the win.
Ms. Powell suggested to a television interviewer this past Sunday that the US Department of Justice was investigating the “Scorecard” allegations. Let us hope this is the case. But on its face, the claim has some issues that make it difficult to believe. For one thing, the creator of both the supercomputer and the Scorecard program, Dennis Montgomery, is said to be a Trump supporter. If that is the case, why has he not come forth to confirm or deny the potential for his program to have accomplished what it is said to have accomplished? Further, Montgomery previously has been involved in what many call hoaxes. For example, he claimed that he had developed computer programs capable of detecting messages meant for al Queda sleeper cells that were hidden in al Jazeera television broadcasts. The claims generated tens of millions in contracts from the federal government, but no confirmed terrorist messages. Other disputed claims for which Montgomery earned substantial federal contractor payments involved assertions that his computer programs could identify terrorists’ faces and weapons through drone footage, or spot submarines deep underwater. At the same time as he was receiving huge government payments, Montgomery was reportedly racking up large gambling debts at Nevada casinos.
Again, I hope that Attorney General Bill Barr immediately looks into these allegations, even as far-fetched as they seem. The last thing that the country (or the world, for that matter) needs is an unexplored Internet conspiracy theory for people to exploit.
Where does this all leave us?
It leaves us with a presidential election that has not yet been decided. Not a single state has completed its election vote-counting procedures or certified election results. So far, it appears that Joe Biden has a lead in enough states that, should his lead be confirmed in the final counting and barring any unforeseen legal developments, he would become President-elect of the United States. But he is not in that position today.
What is needed now is for the orderly process of ballot counting to proceed to its conclusion. That includes allowing all legal actions to be considered and decided based on the evidence and the law. It should also include giving people confidence that no crazy Internet conspiracies are left unexamined to fuel imaginations.