The jig is up.
At least according to Ben Ginsberg, the single most prominent Republican election lawyer in the country, who, in a scathing piece published Sunday by The Washington Post, called out President Donald Trump (and his legal team) for engaging in a widespread attempt to suppress votes in the 2020 election under the guise of sniffing out voter fraud.
“Trump has enlisted a compliant Republican Party in this shameful effort. The Trump campaign and Republican entities engaged in more than 40 voting and ballot court cases around the country this year. In exactly none — zero — are they trying to make it easier for citizens to vote. In many, they are seeking to erect barriers.
All of the suits include the mythical fraud claim. Many are efforts to disqualify absentee ballots, which have surged in the pandemic. The grounds range from supposedly inadequate signature matches to burdensome witness requirements. Others concern excluding absentee ballots postmarked on Election Day but received later, as permitted under state deadlines. Voter-convenience devices such as drop boxes and curbside voting have been attacked….
“…This attempted disenfranchisement of voters cannot be justified by the unproven Republican dogma about widespread fraud. Challenging voters at the polls or disputing the legitimacy of mail-in ballots isn’t about fraud. Rather than producing conservative policies that appeal to suburban women, young voters or racial minorities, Republicans are trying to exclude their votes.”
Which, well, yeah.
Trump, because he is Trump, has repeatedly made unfounded claims that the 2020 election is rigged, that voter fraud is rampant and that the only way to combat it is to self-deputize to keep a very close watch on polling places.
“We’re going to have sheriffs, and we’re going to have law enforcement, and we’re going to have, hopefully, US attorneys, and we’re going to have everybody and attorney generals,” Trump said during an interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity in August. (The proper nomenclature is “attorneys general.” Oh, and also what Trump proposed is illegal.)
During the first presidential debate in late September, Trump answered a question about whether he would urge calm if the election outcome wasn’t immediately known this way:
“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it. As you know, today there was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they went into watch, they were called poll watchers, a very safe very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren’t allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad things. And I am urging, I am urging my people- I hope it’s gonna be a fair election. If it’s a fair election, I am 100% on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated. I can’t go along with that.”
Much of that answer is, like almost everything Trump says about alleged voter fraud, fact-free. In Philadelphia, Trump lost a ruling on his campaign’s ability to install monitors to watch people fill out ballots or registering to vote. And it’s actually Trump’s campaign that has run afoul of the law in the state, scolded for videotaping people casting ballots.
As for Trump’s claim that he could see “tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated,” there is zero – and I mean ZERO – evidence in ANY past election of that sort of widespread voter fraud.
“Now, we have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in late September in response to a question about the safety of voting by mail. (Trump is reportedly considering firing Wray if he wins a second term.)
That’s right! Study after study has shown there is simply no evidence of significant voter fraud – either via mail-in voting or in-person. In fact, a five-year study on voter fraud commissioned by George W. Bush – a Republican – reached the same conclusion as Levitt. Wrote The New York Times at the time: “The Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections.”
Given all of that, Ginsberg has rightly diagnosed what Trump and his campaign are up to. Their series of legal challenges – and the President’s promise of even more! – isn’t about ensuring the integrity of the vote. It’s about keeping people away from voting – via fear and intimidation.
“My party is destroying itself on the Altar of Trump,” concludes Ginsberg. “Republican elected officials, party leaders and voters must recognize how harmful this is to the party’s long-term prospects.”
Yup. That about covers it.