Was the Election Stolen? (the Michigan Edition)

I had been researching this article for some time with plans to post today. The events in DC make this entry in my blog feel more necessary. The integrity of our country’s presidential election has never been more scrutinized as it has been in recent weeks. Much has been made of the many losses that Trump’s team has suffered in the courts, but what can be said of the evidence which they touted publicly. One of those first pieces of evidence was a 234-page collection of affidavits from approximately 100 Michigan residents, many of whom volunteered to be poll watchers/election challengers. Inserted below are clippings from a handful of the statements:

The first thing I noticed was that repeated appearance of similar phrases in some of the statements, specifically: Throughout the day, I witnessed a pattern of chaos, intimidation, secrecy, and hostility by poll workers. You’ll see the phrase repeat three times in the images, (and a few more times in the entire document). The likelihood that multiple people would use the exact same words is slim to none. It suggests use of a template which, given the gravity of what’s being signed, strikes me as inappropriate.

Secondly, most of the affidavits offer opinions and observations, rather than facts. Many spoke on their personal difficulties during the poll watching process rather than observed fraud. A little over a dozen simply attested to the fact that they didn’t get to poll watch at all. Generally, comments went under two categories: 1) I thought what happened was strange and 2) what happened was not what I expected and I thought that was strange. This likely has to do with a lack of understanding regarding the vote counting process. For example, I’m asked to watch an electrician repair a light socket to make sure he doesn’t do anything sketchy. The first thing I should know is… how to repair a light socket. Unfortunately, many of these well meaning and passionate individuals didn’t understand what they were observing, but most importantly, quite a few didn’t understand their role.

Poll watchers are not the same as election challengers. Poll watchers are strictly allowed to observe, not challenge. Guidance from Michigan’s Secretary of State makes it clear that only election challengers can issue challenges. The types of challenges are specific as well, but perhaps the one most applicable is absent voter challenge which states: If an absent voter ballot is challenged, prepare the ballot as a challenged ballot and make a notation on the Challenged Voters page in the Pollbook. Proceed with routine processing and tabulation of the ballot.

Many of the affiants suspected fraud since ballots that were challenged were processed anyway, but the steps as described above, show that nothing was out of order. As a novice to the intricacies of vote counting, my thoughts on this are not definitive. I don’t assume that there were no errors, but the entirety of the document makes a poor case for elevation to the level of fraud.

As it turns out, the case made by the 100 affiants was so poor that none were chosen by Giuliani to be a star witness when he spoke before a panel of Michigan lawmakers. No, that distinction went to the now infamous Melissa Carone, whose appearance before Michigan representatives went viral.

In her affidavit, she states that, ‘I witnessed countless workers rescanning the batches without discarding them first, which resulted in ballots being counted 4-5 times’ and that she, ‘witnessed nothing but fraudulent actions take place.’ She attributes much of the fraud claim to ballots being counted over and over. The issue is that once a hand recount is done with the actual ballots, an error of this magnitude would be revealed because counters would only account for the one ballot. Again, the issue is that someone whose expertise is in another area (Ms. Carone served as an IT contractor during the election) is judging whether or not a process unfamiliar to them is accurate or not.

The reality is her testimony doesn’t add up…but the ballots do.

Traitors in the White House: What the NY Times Op-Ed Really Means

“I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

This oath was taken by the author of the editorial written in the New York Times, two weeks ago (yes, I know I’m late to the party). So what does it mean when the same person who spoke allegiance to the Constitution chooses to undermine a democratically elected President whose administration s/he serves in? What should we think about a person: who anonymously (along with others) has ‘vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses’? Who praises the unsung, unknown heroes of the West Wing who work to isolate the rest of us from the commander in chief’s poor, erratic decisions? I have a word: coward.

We don’t know who this person is, but if accounts by Bob Woodruff and Michael Wolff are to be believed, backstabbing is a pastime in the White House. Perhaps this individual is jockeying for a more favorable position and, knowing the President’s anxieties, reached out to the Times and offered an op-ed in an attempt to give confirmation and false comfort to the general public, but primarily, to push the President to cut off competitors from within his inner circle.

I am not assuaged by self congratulatory statements about the ‘steady state’ and ‘adults being in the room’. This individual described a sitting President as being amoral, anti-democratic, and as having a leadership style that is petty, adversarial and ineffective, but to Trump’s face, likely says otherwise. What would we call someone in the real world who does that?

The author describes early talk of invoking the 25th Amendment, but claims ‘no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.’ And I get it, specifically, if by ‘constitutional crisis’, they mean precipitating certain career suicide. Who wants to risk self when you can maintain the status quo (with all its horrors) and double talk the President and the public into thinking you’re on their side?

It’s clear to me that this person is quite clever and manipulative. They might think that after enough time, they will be able to reveal themselves and be considered a hero of sorts, a truth teller in a time of alternative facts, but they are not deserving of such a title. True heroism requires sacrifice, something not embodied by taking papers off a desk. Furthermore, if you have to go that far and still choose to be a silent witness, then it’s not about sticking around to preserve the democratic institutions you claim to love or the Constitution you are sworn to uphold, it’s about self preservation and maintaining party dominance.

Removing Trump from office through impeachment or the 25th Amendment requires those ‘resisting’ in the shadows to make their truth publicly known. There will be backlash and shouts of ‘traitor,’ but I believe deeply that those voices will be silenced when they see a unified front of members of both parties and houses of Congress agree that their leader is incapable. The only way to get the Never Trumpers and the MAGA crowd to wake up from their blind allegiance/hatred toward the President is through an act of courage. Courage is truth in action and people respond to truth and that’s undeniable, no matter which way you lean.

(random thought: it’s not the 25th amendment or the Mueller investigation that’s going to end Trump’s presidency, it’s the emoluments clause of the Constitution.)