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Why We Should Worry More About Vote Fraud Font Size: 
By Glenn Harlan Reynolds : BIO| 07 Nov 2020
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As I write this, nobody knows how the elections will turn out. That hasn't stopped some preemptive claims of fraud, though:

Pelosi cautioned that the number of Democratic House victories could be higher or lower and said her greatest concern is over the integrity of the count -- from the reliability of electronic voting machines to her worries that Republicans will try to manipulate the outcome.

"That is the only variable in this," Pelosi said. "Will we have an honest count?''

Hmm. I thought there was also the variable of how the voters decide to vote on Tuesday. Pelosi seems to regard that as a foregone conclusion, though the polls have been wrong before.

But this sort of talk -- destructive and self-serving as it is -- merely underscores a point I've made before: An election system that is less than transparent is one that's open to conspiracy theories and fear of fraud, whether or not fraud is actually present. And I've heard quite a few other Democrats echoing Pelosi -- and quite a few Republicans speculating that a Democratic Congress will ride in on a wave of votes from dead people and illegal immigrants. That sort of thinking seems much more common among respectable members of both parties than it was a few years ago, and I think there's reason to fear it's getting worse.

We've already seen indictments for voter fraud in St. Louis, and troubling reports of missing smart cards and double voting from Shelby County, Tennessee. While a certain amount of error and fraud is probably inevitable in something as big as a national election, it also seems that we haven't done nearly enough to address these problems in the six years since the disputed 2000 election. In fact, we may have made things worse in some respects, by rushing in electronic voting machines -- which avoid "hanging chad" problems -- without adequate assurance of security and, just as important, security that's obviously secure to voters. An election system that people don't trust is a serious wound to democracy, and I fear that we're not terribly far from a tipping point in which distrust will become widespread.

My own hope is that however this election turns out, it turns out in a way that ensures elections aren't close enough to give rise to long drawn-out litigation and recount efforts.

And I also hope -- and I'm suggesting this now, before the election, so that no one can accuse me of special pleading in light of whatever happens on Election Day -- that we'll see a real move to make sure both that the process of voting, and the process of counting votes, is improved a lot before the 2008 Presidential election. Whatever claims of fraud, real or bogus, that we see in this midterm election will be merely a warmup to what we'll see in the 2008 elections if the system gives the complainers an opening. Right now there's time to fix things, but just barely. When this election is over, we need to see serious attention to the problem, instead of the usual approach of putting things off until next time.

Yes, I've argued for that before, and am thus repeating myself. But repetition has its uses, and if "Voting needs to be fixed" becomes my version of Cartago delenda est, so be it. Let's hope I'm as successful as Cato the Elder in accomplishing my purpose. I don't think we have a lot of time left in which to get this right.

I'd rather repeat myself now than say "I told you so" later.

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