RICH KIPER: Election outcomes must be unquestionable
Election Day has devolved into quite a mess. Mass mailing of unrequested ballots was bound to create chaos in states unprepared for the deluge. As of this writing, six races are still undecided.
Letters and editorials in the Times and the Kansas City Star claim that Trump is a “child ruler” who is involved in a “treacherous campaign,” that he is “subverting the will of the people,” that he is “throw(ing) wrenches into the system,” that he is on an “unprecedented attack on a democratic election.” A Lansing writer is “angry and frustrated” over Trump’s actions. Another writer compared him to Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.
Would those who condemn Trump stand quietly and take no action if they truly believed they had been cheated or swindled?
Trump is legally using the courts to right what he believes to be a wrong,
Do they remember that Gore conceded to Bush on Dec. 13? That is 12 days from now. Why the uproar?
Although Trump has lost in several courts, there are allegedly still hundreds of affidavits claiming firsthand knowledge of fraud. Nevada will have a hearing Dec. 3. Georgia has 250 fraud investigations ongoing. An Atlanta judge is examining possible voting machine irregularities. Should those allegations not be investigated?
Reports are that ballots arrived without postmarks; with ballots completed with two different colors of ink; with voters arriving at a polling station only to be told they had already voted when they had not; with election clerks filling in information missing on the ballot; and ballots with no signatures or only a 40% match of signature (Nevada). Whether poll watchers were actually allowed to watch became a source of conflict. Some statisticians state that statistical anomalies are unprecedented.
A Reuters poll found that 55% of adults believe that the election was “legitimate and accurate,” while 28% thought it “the result of illegal voting or election rigging.” Not surprisingly, 70% of Republicans believe the election was rigged and 90% of Democrats believe it was fair.
Constitution Article I, Section 4, Clause 1 states: “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.”
It is indisputable that judges and secretaries of state have usurped that requirement. That those acts have not yet been deemed unconstitutional is stunning.
On Jan. 23, 1845, the 28th US Congress passed an act “to establish a uniform time for holding elections for electors of President and Vice President in all the States of the Union.” The act selected “the Tuesday after the first Monday in November” as the day on which all states must appoint electors. That day is known as Election Day. It was the day when everyone went to vote. When the polls closed, the polls closed. If you showed up late, you didn’t get to vote.
I was 8 years old when I walked with my parents the two blocks to the polling place at the Toddle House Café. To vote, each parent entered the booth and pulled a lever which closed the curtain and unlocked the voting levers. They then pulled a lever for their candidate. After voting, a lever was pulled and the curtain opened. As far as I know, there were never any “hanging levers” with those machines.
Times changed and we adopted the use of advance or absentee vote. This was especially beneficial to the military. When I voted absentee, I had an individual responsibility to request the ballot, fill it out correctly and get it in the mail to arrive by Election Day.
Some states now mail ballots to everyone on the voter rolls, even if they are dead or haven’t lived at that address for decades. Ballots are counted even if they arrive weeks after the election.
In 2005, former President Carter (D) and former Secretary of State Baker (R) submitted a report to President George W. Bush on election reform. Among the recommendations were: prohibiting ballot harvesting, requiring real ID, maintaining accurate voter rolls, ensuring the integrity of voting machines and requiring states to provide voter information to a state from which someone has moved. The report specifically stated that “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.”
Congress and state legislatures must fix the hasty decisions and chaotic counting procedures that could lead to fraud. The Carter-Baker report would be a good place to start. This turmoil cannot be repeated. Election outcomes must be unquestionable.
Rich Kiper is a Leavenworth Times columnist.