by Bruce Oliver Newsome
We are a year overdue for the true story of the 2020 elections. Mollie Hemingway has at last delivered it to us in one tidy volume.
It’s a complex story, which makes for a weighty book. The research is thorough, the writing is evidentiary, the style is clinical—like investigative journalism and social science used to be. The endnotes alone run nearly 100 pages.
Reading Rigged, one isn’t jarred by hyperbole, conjecture, or spin. Hemingway is unequivocal on progressive malice, yet she can be scathing of Republicans, too. She is particularly critical of Rudy Giuliani’s attempts to publicize fraud nationally, thereby undermining prior case-by-case efforts to get particular state courts to recognize particular violations of particular state laws.
She also calls out Republican officials who preferred to help the opposition rather than reveal their own state’s dysfunctions. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office, for instance, secretly recorded a telephone appeal from Trump to expose fraud in Fulton County, then misrepresented Trump to the press as asking for the statewide result to be changed.
Overall, the story reads like a tragedy. One alternates between anger and consternation that bleeding obvious facts were not reported by the mainstream media at the time.
Some evidence of election irregularities broke through mainstream censorship: the strange spikes in votes counted for Biden overnight in counties with unusually strong Democratic Party governance and histories of criminal mishandling of votes (Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Fulton County, for example).
Over subsequent days, a news consumer with time and effort could piece together strange disputes. Official election observers were denied access, or kept so far away they could not see any ballots. They sought emergency court orders, but some courts set hearing dates weeks in the future or simply denied jurisdiction. Even if observers did obtain a court order, election officials claimed not to understand it (as in Philadelphia).
In Georgia, observers were told that counting was being suspended overnight, but a surveillance camera recorded video of four persons pulling boxes of ballots from beneath a cloaked table for unobserved digital entry. Still, Georgia’s officers continued to claim that voting had been suspended overnight. Surely this was a story worthy of investigative reporting? The mainstream media preferred to report all the disputes as conspiracy theories.
Witnesses came forward testifying to ballot harvesting, ballot stuffing, counts for the Democratic Party without ballots, ballots for the Republican Party that disappeared without counting. Nevertheless, the Republican Party could not get most of the media to show up to hear these witnesses, or the courts to admit them.
And so 2020 petered out, with the election still disputed but barely investigated. Most of the evidence, most of the admissions, most of the backtracking, waited until after Biden’s victory was confirmed by Congress in January.
A History of Rigging
As Hemingway shows in the book’s opening pages, the theft of an election is a long time in the making, and incorporates many efforts other than ballot rigging. This is the strength of the book: she starts the narrative by detailing the flaws in early American elections that would be reinstituted in 2020.
In 1844, voting was spread over five weeks, which meant that the results of early voting surely influenced later voters. Additionally, early voters missed out on later campaigning. In 1848, all voting, by law, was scheduled to take place on the same day. And yet, 130 years later, progressive states turned legitimate absentee voting into no-cause early voting.
In 2020, progressives championed early voting and mail-in voting, knowing that Republicans preferred to vote in person on the day. To strengthen the case, progressives campaigned for all Americans to be locked down against COVID-19, contrary to the pan-Asian norm of locking down local hotspots. A general lockdown had the additional advantage of ruining the national economy, which had been booming, to Trump’s credit. Further, lockdown prevented Trump from campaigning at his best (in person), and excused the stumbling, bumbling Biden from leaving his home.
Perversely, progressives both encouraged mob rule in response to the killing of George Floyd in May, and used the violence as yet another justification for mail-in voting—and for voting against Trump. As Biden tweeted on August 27, “Remember: every example of violence Donald Trump decries has happened on his watch. Under his leadership. During his presidency.”
The progressives’ champions were funded by tech oligarchs and promoted by the mainstream media. Even Republican state officials colluded. For instance, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp watered down signature-matching requirements in 2019 to appease Stacey Abrams’ claims of “voter suppression” when she lost to him in 2018. Of course, appeasement just emboldens the bully. Later in 2019, the Democratic Party’s chief elections litigator, Marc Elias, sued Raffensperger, who consented to allow for disputed absentee ballots to be “cured” rather than summarily discounted, and to allow Democrats to train and advise officials on signature matching.
Georgia’s primary election in June 2020 was conducted by the counties. They made a mess of it—especially the strongly Democratic counties. The worst offender, Fulton County, was forced to agree to federal monitoring and various training and performance standards. Yet state reforms were perversely to their advantage. Raffensperger inexplicably directed most of the reform funds to those same Democratic counties, which promoted yet more mail-in voting.
Millions of dollars were sourced from Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, acting mainly through the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) and Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL). Both centers were founded and run by former affiliates of the Democratic Party. Some of these affiliates were given roles in the implementation of official reforms. In the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, they were actually given keys to the central counting facility and ballot machines.
Did election integrity improve given this outsourcing? No. In Green Bay, poll workers “cured” ballots with the same color pens voters had used. Subsequently, Wisconsin’s legislature voted to ban private funding of election operations, only to be vetoed by Democratic Governor Tony Evers.
CEIR reported that it contacted all 50 states, of which 23 were awarded funds. What CEIR did not explicitly report was that it gave 7.6 times more funds to Democratic states than to states that had voted for Trump in 2016. CEIR gave more than half of its money to four battleground states: Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona.
Georgia received more than $31 million, or nine percent, of all “Zuck Bucks.” Yet not all of Georgia’s counties received funding. Biden-voting counties received $7.13 per registered voter, on average, compared to $1.91 in Trump-voting counties. Counties that did not receive CEIR funding did not show significant voting shifts from 2016 to 2020, but the funded counties showed an average shift of 2.3 percent in favor of Democrats.
The disputed runoff for Georgia’s two U.S. senators accounted for another $14.5 million from Zuckerberg’s organizations, with similar bias in favor of Democratic counties.
The other battleground states showed the same funding bias. In the end, Zuckerberg had channeled more than $400 million into nominally non-partisan election reforms.
Changing the Rules
For the 2020 general election, 39 states modified their election laws or procedures.
Early voting started up to two months before the statutory election day, and one month before the first televised debate between the presidential candidates. Receipts were permitted days after election day, to accommodate the anticipated postal delays. More than 100 million of the 159 million ballots counted in 2020 were posted prior to election day. In 2016, the rate had been 33 million posted out of 140 million counted. Joe Biden won the Electoral College by 43,000 more votes than Trump across just three states.
Early voters are generally less informed voters. In 2020, in-person Republican voters were suppressed by general reporting that early voting favored Biden. They were further suppressed by inaccurate polling suggesting Biden was on course for a landslide. Finally, they were suppressed by early results out of Arizona, which started counting mail-in ballots two weeks before election day. Biden won Arizona by a margin of just 0.3 percent, and Georgia by the same margin.
Early voting makes fraud easier, of which the two easiest forms are double voting and manipulating another person’s ballot. Secrecy of voting is more difficult in a household than a voting booth. Family members, community organizers, and clerics have been known to collect ballots for completion.
In some states, strangers are allowed to harvest ballots, meaning that they may collect ballots merely on the promise to deliver them correctly. But the volunteer could filter out votes for disliked candidates, or influence how the ballot is completed, particularly in the name of the elderly, homeless, infirm, or anyone confined on the grounds of COVID.
Secretly filmed footage from Minneapolis showed harvesters for Representative Ilhan Omar exchanging cash for ballots. The all-mail-in election for Paterson City Council, New Jersey in May 2020 was invalidated by court order, after 19 percent of ballots were disqualified (mostly for unmatched signatures, the rest for being packaged together). The City Council’s incumbent vice president and three other men were charged with voter fraud.
Voters are alerted to the opportunities for double voting when they receive ballots at more than one address. Eleven percent of Americans move every year. States are incentivized to register more than to purge voters. In 2019, Judicial Watch forced Los Angeles County, by civil legal action, to purge its voter rolls of at least 1.5 million voters above the number of voting-age resident citizens. In the same year, Judicial Watch established that eight states and DC maintained more registered voters than eligible voters.
Mail-in ballots make double voting easier still, because the voter’s identity is usually proven by nothing more than a signature. In New Jersey, which compares the ballot signature with the signature obtained during voter registration, 9.6 percent of mail-in ballots were disqualified, on average, across 31 local elections in May 2020.
In November 2020, thousands of Georgians voted within a county other than the county in which they lived—mostly by absentee voting.
In some jurisdictions, the only signatures to compare are the signature on the ballot, and the signature on the application for a ballot, which itself might have been obtained by somebody other than the legitimate voter. In any case, even in states that mandate a comparison, election workers seem to have skipped the burden. Some parts of Pennsylvania counted ballots without either the signature or the date—even though both are required by law. Only 0.4 percent of absentee ballots were rejected by Georgia in November 2020, compared to 6.4 percent in 2016. Some Republicans tested the system by using different signatures at each stage, without getting caught, as they proved later by publishing photographs.
All of this adds up to a targeted campaign to undermine election integrity in the 2020 elections. Across several states, with the help of numerous friendly institutions, the Democratic Party was able to change the way America votes, and manipulate how those votes were counted. The vast coordination to defeat Trump by any means necessary on display in Rigged exposes the rank dishonesty of leftist objections to the Right’s efforts to ensure election integrity. Next time someone caricatures evidence of voting irregularities as a conspiracy theory, throw the book at them—Mollie Hemingway’s book.
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Bruce Oliver Newsome reports for American Greatness.
Photo “Worker at polling counter” by Governor Tom Wolf CC BY 2.0.