I have held my tongue too long.
I didn’t want to feed the Trump narrative of massive fraud and a stolen election, so I waited for the Electoral College to return its votes for then President-elect Biden. Then, I waited until the swearing-in just to be sure. But now that the Georgia legislature has passed controversial voter security legislation, I can no longer hold back. So here I go…
Trump may not have been able to prove election fraud massive enough to overturn the election, but just because he can’t prove it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
There I said it. Before the torch and pitchfork crowd comes knocking at my door, let me first explain that I do not come at this as a mere bystander of federal elections.
For the past 35 years, I have worked to elect Democrat candidates at the federal, state, and local levels. In 2002, I designed and executed the first fully automated national voter hotline for the Democratic National Committee. In 2004, 2008, and 2012 I ran the MyVOTE1 election day hotline processing millions of voter complaints and inquiries from media outlets like NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and The Tom Joyner Radio Show. After the 2004 election, I provided expert testimony to the Carter Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform. In 2012, I testified before a Congressional Committee overseeing federal elections.
In short, I am no stranger to what it is like behind the scenes on Election Day.
For full disclosure, I was also indicted, convicted, sentenced, and served ten months of an 18-month sentence in federal prison for violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act. Shortly after my release in 2020 and three months before the presidential election, I gave a published interview concerning my thoughts on the new wave of Vote-By-Mail (VBM) legislation sweeping the nation. I said outright that there was no evidence to suggest that fraud has been involved in mail-in voting. However, having said that, we expected a record-shattering level of mail-in voting in battleground states.
Did that upsurge lend itself to a greater opportunity for fraud? Of course, it did. It would have been intellectually dishonest to say fraud absolutely won’t happen.
But after the election took place there was still very little evidence that fraud took place. Over thirty courts concluded as such when the Trump team – spearheaded by Rudy Giuliani – tried to get one of them to overturn the election.
Still, what if there is no evidence of fraud because the very system in which it thrived was unwittingly built to conceal its existence? What if the perfect storm to invite fraud into the election created the imperfect system that allowed fraud to not simply thrive but go on undetected?
And the perfect storm is exactly what we had.
Firstly, we had a pandemic that had strained all levels of government infrastructure. The national crisis led to a mad rush by Eastern state legislatures – Democrat and Republican alike – to move from in-person to mail-in ballots almost overnight. While the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court was unique in its outright elimination of the requirement of matching outer envelope to ballot signatures, Democrats in the battleground states of Ohio and Florida mounted unsuccessful court challenges to ease their states’ signature requirements.
So, with so many election policies rolled back, how would such fraud manifest itself?
First, you would need corruptible postal workers paid to swap fake ballots for the real ones. Paired with political operatives to target the votes that needed to be flipped and mix in a sophisticated printing operation that can produce the fake ballots, and voila, the recipe for voter fraud.
If you believe that postal workers are theoretically bribable, that fake ballots and envelopes are theoretically printable, and that voters are theoretically targetable, then you understand the weaknesses built into our vote-by-mail (VBM) system.
At their core, voter protection mechanisms were designed for in-person voting – namely to allow poll watchers to eye every aspect of a voter including that voter’s signature. These rules prevent a fake voter from assuming the identity of a real one
Trump campaign staffers marched into the PA Convention Center with a court order giving them the right to stand 6 feet away from sorters, instead of the previously allotted 20 feet. @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/GpwAU0GN9J
— Alecia Reid (@alecia__reid) November 5, 2020
Covid-distanced poll watchers at a VBM scanning operation have no such opportunity. In Philadelphia, for example, poll watchers were initially stationed 20-feet away from the scanning operation, but that lowered to six feet after the Trump campaign won an order from a local judge. Still, at six feet away, poll watchers cannot see ballots being scanned and there is no voter in front of them. All these poll watchers can see from six feet away is a poll worker loading a stack of ballots into a scanner. It may not even matter as the signatures would match the real ones having been copied off the real ballots before the real ones were tossed.
Theoretically, once a fake ballot is scanned, fraud has been executed. As there is no record of which voter voted for which candidate, the defrauded voter will never know he or she was defrauded. Sure, some election experts may notice the anomaly of Trump’s undervote in a particular voting area, but with Trump, it is far more likely to be attributed to the candidate’s underperformance than to voter fraud.
Finally, please spare me the ad nauseum-repeated quote of Chris Krebs, the former Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), claiming the election was “the most secure election in U.S. history.” He may know what he is talking about when it comes to foreign hackers flipping votes in cyberspace, but let’s not conflate his expertise in cybersecurity to cover the more old-school type of fraud operation of stealing ballots at the mailbox. I’m pretty sure CICA’s portfolio when it came to the 2020 election did not have its agents conducting surveillance operations within the U.S. Postal Service.
So, could voter fraud in the 2020 election have happened? Yes, it could. Did it happen? Probably not.
However, we should not continue to substitute the “fact” that voter fraud did not exist for the supposition that it did not exist. Rather, we should focus on building systems into VBM voting that don’t leave room for fraud in the future.