President Donald Trump is being labeled a bitter loser. After a close and divided election, lawsuits have been filed in Pennsylvania overextended deadlines and observers, Michigan over lack of transparency, Georgia over late ballots, and Nevada over machine verification. Essentially, the lawsuits amount to allegations of systemic corruption and voter fraud that could have cost Trump the election.
Yet while even if victorious the lawsuits may not overturn the current projected election results, they will certainly expose cracks in our imperfect system. Indeed, we can move to collectively improve future elections and begin restoring faith and confidence in government and its institutions only if such malfeasance and shortcomings are exposed.
Trump is a Washington outsider, fighting to “drain the swamp” and change the status quo. Successful or not, these lawsuits could be his biggest legacy yet to root out corruption.
Government corruption and voter fraud are real. Last year alone, there were 32 voter fraud convictions, such as buying votes, fraudulent use of absentee ballots, and providing illegal “assistance” at the polls. In one notable case adjudicated this year, Domenick J. Demuro, a former Philadelphia judge of elections, was convicted for accepting bribes to cast fraudulent ballots and certify false voting results during the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections. In context, these cases inflame the growing sentiment of distrust and loss of confidence in the government and its institutions.
While the number of convictions seems small and the example appears isolated compared to the approximately 150 million votes cast over hundreds of thousands of polling places, like most crimes, it is estimated that the government is only catching and convicting a tiny fraction of actual voter fraud. Furthermore, with mass mail-in ballots the possibility of voter fraud increases. Unsecure voter drop boxes, U.S. Postal Service employees dumping ballots, and dead people casting mail-in ballots are just a few confirmed cases during the recent election.
While we don’t yet know whether the extent of the fraud will be enough to make a difference in this election, all Americans should agree that any voter fraud is unacceptable. Essentially and profoundly, it goes against our collective values and threatens our system. Moreover, with many elections having such tight margins, even a few thousand votes in one city could tip a state, and one tipped state could tip a national election.
Recall, only 537 votes from Florida decided the 2000 presidential election. Even if not organized or systemic, one criminal committing voter fraud of several hundred ballots could have determined the country’s fate for the next four years. Our great republic should not be easily vulnerable to such a crime.
Despite the great controversy that will result from protracted legal action, the pain is necessary to ensure the system’s integrity and viability. We must acknowledge the fact that our system is imperfect and corruptible. We can’t fix what isn’t exposed, and we can’t expose what we can’t see.
Transparency and uncovering the truth through our legal process — a process that relies on due process, laws of evidence, rules, and facts — is critical. Most Americans are willing to accept a loss of their favored candidate if the system works and there is a perception of fairness and trust. Without it, our “great experiment” fails.
Of course, if there are humans involved, there will always be corruption. It may be impracticable and naive to suggest we have a perfect system. This does not, however, mean that we should not strive for perfection. Truly, infallibility should be the goal and we should endeavor for nothing less.
Our voting system must be considered our most sacred set of institutions. Preventing, deterring, and prosecuting election fraud is essential to protecting the integrity of our voting process and ensuring the continuation of our great republic. Let the lawsuits proceed and let’s see what happened.