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December 07th, 2021
L&T Opinions Page

earl wattL&T Publisher Earl Watt


Can you name the president who won a majority of the popular vote, a majority of the Electoral College votes and still did not win the presidency?

The answer is Andrew Jackson, and it happened in 1824.

There were four candidates that year because there was basically only one political party at the time, the Democratic-Republican Party. 

John Quincy Adams was selected by the House of Representatives even though he only received 30.9 percent of the vote and 84 Electoral votes, and Jackson received 41 percent of the vote and 99 Electoral votes.

Immediately, Jackson questioned the results, and he started a four-year campaign for the presidency. 

He won in 1828.

In 1876, Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina all had fraudulent claims, and that left Sam Tilden one Electoral vote short of becoming president. An Elector from Oregon was declared illegal.

A special commission was formed by Congress, and all disputed Electoral votes were awarded to Rutherford B. Hayes who became president.

There were controversies in 1912, 1948, 2000, 2016 and 2020.

Having questionable elections is nothing new in the United States. In fact, it is quite common, and having a candidate who falls short question the process and make accusations of fraud is also quite common.

The new phenomenon today is the obstruction to any questioning of an election.

The American system of elections will always leave the door open to claims of fraud, and recent prosecutions in Michigan are proof that fraud actually takes place.

Juanita Williams has been accused of fraudulently filling out ballot requests for incapacitated individuals under her care. Two other women also face fraud charges, but Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson defended the process in Michigan by stating that these efforts were caught and that less than 1 percent of the 5.5 million votes cast in Michigan have been tied to election fraud.

Whether fraud affected the outcome of the 2020 election is irrelevant.

Fraud has been claimed in elections since the nation’s founding.

Why is it that the government cannot be questioned about elections today? Or, that questioning this election has been referred to as “The Big Lie?”

Jackson not only made claims of election fraud, but he won in a landslide four years later.

What makes 2020 any different that 1824?

Or 1876? Or 1912?

It is not dangerous at all to make claims of fraud or to challenge the results of an election.

What is dangerous is to suppress those claims or to dismiss them outright.

The outrage being spewed by the media because Donald Trump has done what many candidates have done in the history of the nation — claim fraud — is either ignorant of history or gravely misinformed by acting as if it were a first.

Some will claim, falsely, that Trump sent a group of everyday Americans to the Capitol in a move to overturn the election results.

It would seem the commander in chief of the armed forces could have done something a lot worse, and then there could be a valid claim made.

But that never happened.

There has yet to be enough proof that fraud can be proven to have led to an illegal election result. That doesn’t mean there was no fraud, and it doesn’t mean fraud didn’t play a role in the last election. But it is impossible to prove since ballots that were mailed in were accepted and counted and are now blended in to the entire election population.

The winners usually let it go at that, knowing their victory won’t be overturned.

But what we have seen is more dangerous than a candidate making the standard fraud claim.

We are seeing the attempted federalization of elections. We are seeing the media’s hair on fire that a large number of Americans do not believe the election was legitimate, just like many elections in the past from those of varying political parties.

Perhaps these people never heard of the Tammany Hall political machine or Boss Pendergast or Boss Tweed. If you haven’t, look them up.

Election corruption has long been a fight in American politics, and new safeguards have been implemented to return legitimacy to the process, including voter identification and signature verification.

The media pushes these common-sense solutions as voter suppression, and they have never pushed as hard to silence anyone like they have the 2020 election.

Shakespeare’s line rings loudly when this happens — “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

The strong pushback against questioning an outcome is unprecedented. 

And it’s dangerous.

We have given credibility in 2016 that Russians influenced our elections, which was proven not to have any political party involvement, but completely discount that 2020 had any wrongdoing.

Had Trump won, the media would still be shouting fraud and foreign influence, and therein lies the problem.

When media, social or otherwise, puts its hand on the scale of these very common claims, and they support one party’s claims while discounting the other, they show they are no longer the arbiter of truth but a political activist organization.

The claim of fraud itself carries little weight.

But the heavy-handed response against the ability of one party to question the outcome has created a danger to the republic.

The federalization of elections would, in fact, end the republic. If a state cannot administer its own elections, what sovereignty does it really have? What independent powers are left that couldn’t be federalized?

Borders between states would be as meaningless as the one between the United States and Mexico.

Notice how every response must end with a more powerful federal government and weaker rights for states and the people? That was always the goal.

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