The Dangers of Attacks on Legitimate Voting Processes

Trump, Scott, and their allies are not doing America any favors.

In their book, How Democracy Dies, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt (building on work by Juan Linz) proposed a four “behavioral warning signs” for identifying growing authoritarianism (21-22).

They are:

  1. Rejects, in words of action, the democratic rules of the game
  2. Denies the legitimacy of opponents
  3. Tolerates or encourages violence
  4. Indicates a willingness to curtail the civil liberties of opponents, including the media

This list has come to mind several times in the last several week, to include Trumps relentless denigration of any media outlet or news story as “fake news” or reporters as “enemies of the people.”  There was also the recent extolling of violence against a reporter when he campaign for Greg Gianforte, not to mention his performance at the post-election press conference.

To me, at the moment, the most dangerous game he is playing is in regards to the elections, specifically the recount in Florida and the not-yet-resolved Georgia governor’s race.

Here are just two tweets in this genre (there are several).

The first is simply put an irresponsible, unfounded attempt to undermine the process:

The second is more of the same, with the added bonus making a simplistic declaration about election night:

It doesn’t work that way.  Only a simpleton thinks that the election night returns are the end of he process (yes, I know).  Election night is not some entertainment spectacle (a movie, a ball game) in which we get closure at the end of the evening. Further, neither concession speeches nor victory declaration have legal significance.  Many races can easily be called nearly live because of the mathematical gap between winner and loser coupled with knowledge of likely outcomes of outstanding votes.  But, of course, having a cable news host “call” something, though usually accurate, is not official.  Of course, we all know this (or, at least, I thought we did).

But to have the President of the United States claim fraud and to assert fake ballots have been introduced into the process is a dangerous erosion of confidence in the process.

Accusations of malfeasance in an election has to come with hard evidence, else all it does it inflame citizens and leads to the eventual collapse of democracy.  This is not hyperbole–if enough citizens lose confidence in the integrity of elections, you can’t have a functioning democratic process. (And yes, real fraud and other problems can exist, but again, accusations have to come with evidence).

This is one of the reasons that I do not call electoral processes that I find problematic (if not unjust) illegitimate.  I have argued over and over that the Electoral College producing a minority winner is not democratic.  But I don’t call it “illegitimate” insofar as the processes followed in 2016 was under the established constitutional and legal order.* Votes were properly cast and tallied and the procedures with the Electors properly executed. The EC is flawed and retrograde (and doesn’t work as designed) but it is functions in a known, knowable fashion that conforms to the rules established to govern its activities. Claiming a process is illegitimate because one doesn’t like the process or the outcome it produces is a serious problem when we are talking about elections.

For the President of the United States to claim that there is an active attempt to steal an election without any evidence other than his preferred candidates have not yet been declared the winners is a dereliction of his oath of office.  It is a disgrace and it damages the fundamental fabric of our republic.

BTW, of the more ridiculous aspects of this is that the leaders heading into recounts almost always remain the leaders after the count is done to conform the integrity of the system in the context of a close election.  Further, by definition, a razor-think election might swing to the seeming loser once all ballots are counted (and all ballots should be counted).  If you are rooting for legitimate, legal votes to be rejected because it will help your side win, you are explicitly rejecting democracy.  If you are willing to create doubt about the process to help your side win, you are declaring yourself an enemy of democracy itself.

*I do think, as a side note, that over time a system that produces problematic, if not unjust outcomes (such as minority rule while purporting otherwise) can cause that system to lose the support of the population, and hence its overall legitimacy (I am fully aware I am slicing words in a professorial manner here–but I think that a discreet process can be legitimate, but still eventually lead to the loss of confidence of the governed, and hence to the withdrawal of legitimacy by a significance section of the population).  That is another post, however.

In general, “legitimacy” as an analytical concept is problematic for a variety of reasons.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Well, duh. That’s a feature, not a bug. Putin wants the whole democracy blown sky high, then his favorite lackey’s going to do that.

    Also: what’s that thing with all the badges on the left side of the photo (Trump’s right side)? I know the photos are his parents, but I’ve never noticed that other thing before. Anyone know?

  2. CSK says:

    Fantastic shot. What’s it titled–Portrait of a Large, Unattractive Toddler Throwing a Temper Tantrum?

    13
  3. Kathy says:

    Have I told the story of the aftermath of Mexico’s 2012 general election?

    Short version, one of the losing candidates for president, Manuel Andres Lopez Obrador (who won finally in 2018), claimed fraud on a large scale, and that the election was stolen from him. He offered, at best, flimsy evidence. Eventually, with the connivance of the Mexico City government, he and his sympathizers closed off a major thoroughfare for months. He demanded a recount of all the votes cast.

    It was easy to refute his claims. For one thing, the law allows for challenges at polling locations, and all parties have observers at all such locations. His Majesty filed challenges for many, but not even a fourth, of all voting places, many of them minor irregularities. If there had been massive fraud, and a stolen election, did he not have proof to challenge all or a large majority of polls?(*)

    But that didn’t matter to his base or his party. Enough of a popular outcry and enough loss of confidence took place, that Congress passed a huge electoral reform bill by 2014 (no, it didn’t allow Lopez to win this year).

    We survived it. But then, guns are not as plentiful in Mexico (crime reports notwithstanding), and there are no huge partisan divisions. Also we always seem to have three major parties.

    (*) BTW, the party in the presidency in 2012, the PAN (National Action Party) lost the election to a candidate from another party, the PRI (Revolutionary Institutional Party). If they had engaged in fraud and wanted to steal the election, wouldn’t they have stolen it for their party?

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Trump, Scott, and their allies are not doing America any favors.

    Well duh! America is supposed to do them favors! Get with the program Steven!

    I have a quibble with this paragraph, tho it’s really more of a question:

    This is one of the reasons that I do not call electoral processes that I find problematic (if not unjust) illegitimate. I have argued over and over that the Electoral College producing a minority winner is not democratic. But I don’t call it “illegitimate” insofar as the processes followed in 2016 was under the established constitutional and legal order.* Votes were properly cast and tallied and the procedures with the Electors properly executed. The EC is flawed and retrograde (and doesn’t work as designed) but it is functions in a known, knowable fashion that conforms to the rules established to govern its activities. Claiming a process is illegitimate because one doesn’t like the process or the outcome it produces is a serious problem when we are talking about elections.

    Vladimir Putin holds unchecked power in Russia because of the established constitutional and legal order.

    Jim Crow was legal under the established legal order (I would not say constitutional under the 14th and 15th Amendments but it was a moot point because very few cared or were willing to do anything about it)(and the few who tried to quite often ended up swinging from a rope).

    What Brian Kemp did with voter registrations and absentee ballots certainly crossed a line of corruption in service of his own campaign.

    Those are 3 examples (and each of a different scale) of people in power using the law to ensure that power remains in their hands. At some point a line is crossed. Gerrymandering is real close to the line, I would argue it is over the line but can see an argument that it is just at the line. We accept it to a certain extent but only because it has always been done to some extent or another.

    Challenging these things in court is supposed to be the way to fix them, but how many times this cycle have we seen judges say this, that or the other are blatantly unconstitutional over reaches of power but it’s too close to the election to change them now. Which is hardly a disincentive to such shenanigans.

    My question is where do we we draw the lines and how do we enforce them?

    (yeah I know, 7 or 8 posts might not be enough)

  5. Jen says:

    Great post.

    On a related issue, I am beginning to wonder if there need to be substantial changes to the processing of votes as we move to more early voting, mail-in voting, and the use of absentee ballots.

    It seems that an awful lot of the wailing and gnashing of teeth comes because people expect there to be an “answer” one way or the other, on election night. In close elections, this simply is not possible. In the case of Florida, I think it’s important to remember that the mail system was thrown into disarray due to the actions of the dope who sent pipe bombs through the mail.

    I’ve never understood why absentee votes are counted last–if the voting jurisdiction has possession of those ballots, why are they not counted first, early in the day, before any of the voting-day ballots are in?

    Since we no longer vote on just one day, it seems to me that the processing of votes needs to change somehow too–and public expectations on when results are anticipated to be finalized also needs to be managed.

  6. reid says:

    Of course, Trump doing this is the most offensive, but weren’t Rubio and Scott (and probably others) also cavalierly throwing around words like “fraud”? If I’m correct, they jumped to that conclusion before there was any way to know actual fraud was going on. They all need to be called out for it.

  7. de stijl says:

    Steven L. Taylor:

    To me, at the moment, the most dangerous game he is playing is in regards to the elections, specifically the recount in Florida and the not-yet-resolved Georgia governor’s race.

    Trump has done a of shitty things during his Presidency, but this is – by far – the worst thing he has done or said.

    Yeah, he’s a bombastic, thin-skinned narcissist – that was known before. Kinda baked in that’s a total d-bag douchey dick.

    But, for all of the reasons Taylor laid out this particular incident is appalling and disgusting and *very* dangerous.

    For the President of the United States to claim that there is an active attempt to steal an election without any evidence other than his preferred candidates have not yet been declared the winners is a dereliction of his oath of office. It is a disgrace and it damages the fundamental fabric of our republic.

    The danger is not just in the claim, but in the effect.

    Trump and compliant and complicit Rs are dragging us into what looks and feels like the latter stages of the Weimar Republic with brownshirts battling antifa in the streets and the independent media is declared as “the enemy of the people” by the state.

    I am officially freaked. This should not happen here.

    This not a hiccup – this is a real problem. A nascent nationalist, racist, proto-fascist movement is brewing right now and we need to stop it before it meets it’s aims.

    11
  8. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    Enough of a popular outcry and enough loss of confidence took place, that Congress passed a huge electoral reform bill by 2014

    Tell us more about this electoral reform bill — were they good reforms?

    Did this bitter loser end up making the whole system more robust, transparent and believable by all?

    The view we get of Mexico from up here is that corruption and one party rule was rampant for decades, and that it’s now struggling a bit to come out of that. That can undermine confidence, even when there is no evidence — the bitter loser may have assumed that there was widespread fraud because there was always fraud before, and that’s just how these things work.

  9. Gustopher says:

    Yet another instance of Party over Country.

    It’s not just Trump making these declarations — it is the rest of the Republican Party. It is notable that McSally(?) in Arizona didn’t, even when the Arizona Governor was suggesting it.

    The country has taken another couple of steps towards fascism, and it started with Donald Trump’s declaration before the 2016 vote that he might not accept the outcome because it was rigged. But the Republican Party — leadership and base — have embraced this.

    The next step, of course, is Republicans rigging elections, because “it’s the only way to fight the evil Democrats stealing elections.” I would say we are already seeing that with all the tricks Kemp pulled.

    I wouldn’t mind some laws to standardize the election process, and make the entire thing much more transparent.

  10. Gustopher says:

    I do think, as a side note, that over time a system that produces problematic, if not unjust outcomes (such as minority rule while purporting otherwise) can cause that system to lose the support of the population, and hence its overall legitimacy

    When the fine Republican legislative bodies of North Dakota passed a voter id law that deliberately disenfranchised Native Americans, can you say that the elections there are legitimate? They have cover of rule of law.

    When the fine Republican Secretary Of State in Georgia removes 50,000 people from the voter rolls because of minor name variations (no squiggle on one record, hyphens instead of spaces), which disproportionately affect women and minorities, are you sure that election is legitimate? He also did this under cover of law.

    I make the same argument about the gerrymandering in the House (which is meant to represent the people).

    I think a case can be made that the Senate is deliberately undemocratic, and meant as a check on majority rule, and was accepted as such, so it is legitimate.

    A similar argument for the electoral college fails, because there isn’t that acceptance any more. We were all taught the simplified version in school, that people elect the President and that we are a democracy. The electoral college was just a weird little artifact that had always gone with the popular vote in modern times, up until it suddenly didn’t.

  11. KM says:

    Further, neither concession speeches nor victory declaration have legal significance.

    Ah Steven, but they do! Recess legality specifically states that only losers give up so if you give up (or if adulting, concede), you can’t win ever! Granted, they may be getting it confused with ragequitting since they do that a lot but they’re sure that it’s as binding as a pinky-swear and Trump’s personal verbal assurances! Also, if you state you’re the winner, it’s totes true and things like final scores don’t matter. They know this because they keep saying they’ve won and they did so there!!!

  12. KM says:

    @Jen:

    I’ve never understood why absentee votes are counted last–if the voting jurisdiction has possession of those ballots, why are they not counted first, early in the day, before any of the voting-day ballots are in?

    Because then you’ll have to count votes! The entire point of this exercise for many is that the *correct* group wins. That’s why voter suppression often attacks specific groups or areas. Absentee ballots are easy prey to hold off on because they can be called into play if needed. That’s exactly why Trump and Co are calling them fraudulent because instead of viewing them as legit votes not gotten to yet, they see them as a reservoir of potential Dem votes that need to be squashed. Had they been behind in a squeaker they’d be screaming about how Dems are suppressing the military’s vote because that’s how a lot of servicemen *have* to do it. It’s win-win for them either way and the places where this kind of asshatery goes on are almost always GOP-controlled (except Florida, which happens to be spechul on it’s own regardless of party).

  13. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Tell us more about this electoral reform bill — were they good reforms?

    Honestly, I haven’t followed the matter closely. The two more salient points were that independent candidates are allowed in all elections (with onerous requirements), and citizens who reside outside Mexico can cast absentee ballots by mail (and these are the only absentee ballots allowed).

    There was one party rule and rampant corruption since around the late 20s-early 30s. This ended in the 90s, under president Zedillo. Prior to that, no candidate from any party other than the PRI ever won any election at any level.

    It was a party dictatorship, but it was not ideological at all, and not very repressive (with exceptions, such as the Tlatelolco massacre in 1968). What’s amazing is that every president quietly stepped down after their single six-year term was up, and stayed out of public life (many even left the country).

  14. Jen says:

    @KM: The assumption that absentee votes are Democratic ones is yet another thing that baffles me.

    When I worked in Republican politics–this was a while ago so dynamics might have changed–absentee voting typically fell into these categories: people traveling for business; people with mobility issues/nursing homes; and national guard or military members (overseas military being a slightly different category). Almost all of those groups trended Republican in the state I worked in–the only group that didn’t were college kids and they didn’t vote in big enough numbers for us to really care.

    Have the dynamics of absentee voting changed dramatically, or is this just one of those things that sets Republicans off because they know that fraud is actually fractionally more likely to occur with absentee ballots than in-person voting?

  15. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The danger is not just the voting process…the same danger extends to journalism…and the justice system…and the military…and more.
    Dennison is tearing apart our system one organ at a time. The only question is if we can get it back once we get rid of the cancer.

  16. KM says:

    @Jen:
    I don’t think the dynamics have changed so much as the perception of them has. It ties into the whole election night winner thing and projections – if Repubs think they are winning, *anything* that can potentially chip away at that lead is a BAD, BAD thing that they will go out of their way to downplay. By keeping absentee ballots as essentially a “last resort” instead of what they are – early voting – it lets them invoke the modern notion that you *have* to have a clear winner by election night and bash Dems into giving up early. People used to have to wait WEEKS to know who won and had no issue with it. Counting every vote every time should be a given in a democracy but time and time again we’ve seen hasty calls for Repubs that later show the count goes to the Dems…. specifically because calling the win for the GOP is meant to discourage further counting while they are still ahead. Self-fulling prophecy and all that.

    Notice who gets the calls to concede and understand that it’s an intimidation tactic. One of the things we teach kids at my fencing club is it’s never over till the timer is at zero. Running the clock out is a legit tactic and one you can use to mess with your opponent. Are you behind 13-4 in a 15 pt match with less then a minute left? Meh, I’ve seen bigger comebacks but you have to train kids to not fall for demoralizing “it’s over” moves. I’ve seen kids start to literally goof around when they’ve got a lead that big solely to taunt the other kid and get them to just give up. The final score is what matters, not what the score is seconds in even if that score’s 14-0. As long a victory is theoretically possible, you don’t concede and you solider on…. and are often surprised at how the tables can turn.

  17. de stijl says:

    When it comes to be that if you lose an election means you were robbed and that the election process is therefore untrustworthy – THAT IS A REALLY BAD THING!!!!!!

    A basic failure of civic behavior.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK:

    Fantastic shot. What’s it titled–Portrait of a Large, Unattractive Toddler Throwing a Temper Tantrum?

    Actually it looks more like holding his breath til his face turns blue. Maybe he’s decided that the best way to deal with the Blue wave is to join it.

  19. Kathy says:

    @Kathy:

    My bad. I meant the 2006 election, not 2012. That time the PAN candidate, Calderón, won the election. And there was an electoral reform shortly thereafter. That one included turning over all of the government’s allocated air time in over the air TV and radio networks to political party advertising, divided among all registered parties. This caused problems by 2009, when the swine flu outbreak happened, and there wasn’t enough air time to publicize warnings about it.

    His Majesty Manuel Andres I has run so many times, one forgets when he did what. and there was another reform in 2014. That was when the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE in Spanish), was renamed National Electoral Institute (INE).

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @KM and Jen: Back in the dark ages, I was taught in one of my social studies classes that the reason absentee ballots are counted last is to act as security against someone from the elections system leaking the trend that the absentee ballots show and thereby, distorting the result by either encouraging or discouraging a candidate’s supporters from voting. It’s similar to the theory that is supposed to discourage those who report election results from declaring winners or vote counts until the polls have closed in any particular state.

  21. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:

    Well, Trump once said of Pelosi:”Nancy, you’re the best!”

    It did occur to me that he was trying to turn blue, but given the mango skin of his face…

  22. Scott O says:

    As noted earlier, great post. I think this is one of the worst things that the GOP does, the other being encouraging gun ownership. Right wing media and some elected officials have been pushing voter fraud nonsense for at least 2 decades.

    For anyone interested there’s an audio version of How Democracy Dies on youtube.

    I hope I did that right. Wish preview still worked.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott O: Respectfully, no. The worst thing the GOP does is to block action on climate change.

  24. @OzarkHillbilly:

    (yeah I know, 7 or 8 posts might not be enough)

    Indeed. It is pretty complicated and it is more about the word “legitimacy” and how it should be applied. In some ways it is the difference between a given action versus a whole system. I do plan on writing about it.

  25. @Not the IT Dept.:

    all the badges on the left side of the photo

    I believe it is a collection of challenge coins.

  26. @Gustopher:

    When the fine Republican legislative bodies of North Dakota passed a voter id law that deliberately disenfranchised Native Americans, can you say that the elections there are legitimate? They have cover of rule of law.

    When the fine Republican Secretary Of State in Georgia removes 50,000 people from the voter rolls because of minor name variations (no squiggle on one record, hyphens instead of spaces), which disproportionately affect women and minorities, are you sure that election is legitimate? He also did this under cover of law.

    I am not going to defend those actions, no. The degree to which they are illegitimate is complicated.

    I do think they seek to undermine democracy, and that is a major problem.

    The EC is a long standing institution, which is a different issue.

    Like I said: more later.

  27. de stijl says:

    @Resistance Ron:

    Wow. That was…. Not the direction you should have gone.

    Who are you talking to? Who is the “you”? You did not indicate it at all. But you did construct a straw man around something that no one said, so you have that going for you.

    Indicates a willingness to curtail the civil liberties of opponents, including the media
    Using the IRS to suppress the speech rights of your political enemies.

    You make my brain hurt. Even strawmen have to have a consistent, believable backstory to be remotely “true”.

    8
    1
  28. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I believe it is a collection of challenge coins.

    I’m pretty sure those are the souls of folks illegally evicted by Trump when he was just a d-bag landlord from Queens.

  29. DrDaveT says:

    @Resistance Ron:

    Using the IRS to suppress the speech rights of your political enemies.

    LOL! OK, you almost sounded like a sane individual until that one.

    Thanks for playing.

  30. Tyrell says:

    The far left doesn’t seem to mind election tampering and influencing when it’s them doing it.

    11
  31. @Tyrell:

    The far left doesn’t seem to mind election tampering and influencing when it’s them doing it.

    I’ll bite. Examples? Evidence?

  32. BTW: anyone who wants to “what about” this needs to directly defend the President of the United States, as well as a sitting governor and Senator publicly undermining an outgoing election.

    I am not going to play bullshit games over antifa (who, I would note, does not hold any office in the land, let alone the presidency) or vague allegations and other fantasies.

    I will address real arguments, but even then not as part of a “what about” game–own what you are defending.

    12
  33. Put another way: this isn’t some game of gotcha! where if you can score points against your partisan adversaries that the sins of your team are eliminated.

    We currently have a president actively making things up, and persuading citizens they are true, for the clear intend of sowing doubt about basic electoral processes. This is a problem and bring up the IRS business or anitfa or whatever right wing media talking point as if that means anything here is just nonsense.

    13
  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Thanx, I look forward to it.

  35. de stijl says:

    @Tyrell:

    The far left doesn’t seem to mind election tampering and influencing when it’s them doing it.

    You really have to show your work, here, Tyrell. Please provide evidence of D / “far left” election tampering.

    Election fraud is a very bad thing and should never happen, and if anyone ever does it they should be jailed. D or R or whoever. Full stop.

    I’m a little C conservative. I like, want, and enjoy stable political institutions and processes. And I want those who illegally disrupt our civic order punished to the full extent of the law.

    Trump claimed, with *zero* evidence, that Ds are stealing elections in Florida.

    Here’s what a responsible, adult, not pathologically narcissistic President should say in this situation: “I want every legally cast vote counted, and then the winner is the winner.”

    I like and want political and institutional stability.

    Trump’s tweets threaten the very foundations of our republic. The President is now a partisan voice in the mob.

    I’m really freaked out – this not right and this is not normal. This is scary. The implications and effects of what our President just said are enormous and *VERY, VERY, VERY BAD!!!!*

  36. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Resistance Ron:
    Moderators…it looks like J-enos is back.
    Still peddling conspiracy theories about the IRS.
    Enough, eh?

  37. de stijl says:

    @Tyrell:

    I am really serious about this.

    If there is election fraud, shenanigans, meshugas it should be dealt with with right now, and the punishment should be severe. Please provide any evidence you have of election fraud to us, now, and to the appropriate law enforcement officials.

    This isn’t a goddamned game. This is who we are as a society. Trust in the election process is fundamental to a viable society.

    It’s a dirty little secret that the process is not absolutely precise. When the margin is greater than 1%, no one really cares. We should care, but we don’t. When the election is very close, we suddenly care a lot about the process of how absentee ballots are filed and overseas ballots, etc., because we are emotionally involved in the outcome.

    Every legally cast ballot should be counted.

    @Resistance Ron:

    Did you know that there are 65 million people over 112 years old, according to the social security administration? Granted that does not translate into one to one voter fraud, but it does show that our systems are horribly maintained. In this day and age, with technology where it’s at, there is no excuse for SS lists, voter roles, etc. to NOT be accurate and up to date. These measures to correct the voter roles are certainly a good start even though they may not always be perfect in implementation. It’d be nice if Democrats would help to solve some of these problems, but they won’t even admit there’s a problem.

    Bring it! I heartily welcome substantive election reform initiatives. You seem purpose-driven, fake J-ENOS, so please tell us of your super-important ideas of how to improve the election process. BTW, are you still general council for a major fast-casual sandwich chain (Super fast!)? Sorry! That was back when you called yourself “Drew”.

  38. de stijl says:

    College Republican shenanigans have percolated up and now infect national elections.

    Which reminds me! Roger Stone will likely go to federal prison for the remainder of his days because of his role in disseminating Podesta, Clinton, DNC e-mails in 2016. So long, sucka – you reap what you sow, beeyotch!

    Granted, Stone does have great hair. I can’t pull that look off, myself. It’s the rich guy mullet. My hair goes curly over my ears on the sides when I try to grow it out and I look like a super douchey Canadian hockey coach. So, hard pass on that.

  39. de stijl says:

    @Tyrell:

    What Roger Stone did was a prosecutable election offense, if true.

    If the WSJ story is correct, what Trump did in knowingly disbursing funds to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal violated federal election laws.

    If the evidence is true and correct, these are real election law violations and should be punished!

    Here’s the Etta James version of Stormy Weather
    https://youtu.be/VE5_fDmPt0w

  40. wr says:

    @de stijl: “BTW, are you still general council for a major fast-casual sandwich chain (Super fast!)? Sorry! That was back when you called yourself “Drew”.”

    J@nos isn’t Drew, although he has been Jay Tea and a bunch of other names. Drew is Guarneri, and though he changed his handle for some reason, I don’t think he ever did anything to claim he wasn’t the same person — just the opposite. Don’t remember him pretending to work as a lawyer — his schtick is that he buys and sells major corporation and he is personally worth more than every stinking liberal here put together.

  41. Liberal Capitalist says:

    I had a great laugh yesterday.

    I was watching BBC Worlkd News America yesterday, and they had a story on the Florida elections.

    The story focused on the challenge of counting all the ballots efficiently and in a timely manner, then it shifted to the folks protesting outside.

    A woman (identified as a trump supporter, wearing a trump t-shirt) was very animated saying “we don’t know what’s going on in there, we don’t know what ballots are being counted, or if that process is at all legitimate… it could all be fraud!!!”

    The interviewer then asked her what she would say about the process if her candidate was elected. Her response: “Well then that would prove it is OK”.

    Seriously, she said that with a straight face. No awareness of her partisanship. At all.

  42. al Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    The far left doesn’t seem to mind election tampering and influencing when it’s them doing it.

    Since you didn’t get the memo, let me help you out here: there is no ‘far left’ of any statistical or electoral significance in this country. That concludes my public service announcement for the day.

  43. Blue Galangal says:

    @Resistance Ron: @de stijl:

    Did you know that there are 65 million people over 112 years old, according to the social security administration?

    Since I deal in stats for a living, something about “65 million” in a population that is still under 400 million didn’t make much sense. Ronbot, you might want to double check the source of your current RWNJ talking point. The actual number, from NPR in 2015, was 6.5 million.

  44. Pylon says:

    @de stijl: Though born in Saskatchewan, Barry Melrose became an American citizen in the 90s. 🙂

  45. MarkedMan says:

    @Blue Galangal: This is actually an interesting problem in governance. We have a system that does not require the federal government to be notified of a death. We also have a federal program with millions of people still listed as active when they have died. How do you fix it?

    The modern Republican Party is interested in phony outrage and conspiracy theories but have zero interest and less ability to actually solve the real issues that arise in the normal course of events. So number one in any solution would be to vote these semi sentient parasites out of office.

  46. Blue Galangal says:

    @MarkedMan: Perhaps the GOP is relying on the free market* to solve this governance problem too: “if” the economy crashes and we re-enter a depression, people will apply for the Social Security death benefits! Then the government will be notified. DUH.

    *Offer† valid only if a Republican president is in office in months without an “r.”

    †Offer good for 1.5% of funeral expenses, up to a maximum of $15.00‡

    ‡Other dead people have successfully crowdfunded their funerals; why can’t you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you liberal snowflake?§

    §The person responsible for these footnotes has been sacked.

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @Blue Galangal: I know this is sarcasm, but there is more than a grain of truth here. Republicans have mine and the mantra of all government is bad, only the free-market can solve problems for so long that they truly believe. So ever since Reagan it’s become the party of people who don’t actually want to do anything but want to just talk and act self important.

  48. Teve says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    §The person responsible for these footnotes has been sacked.

    😀

  49. Not the IT Dept. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: …challenge coins.

    Thanks muchly – but I’m afraid I don’t know what that means. I will google to find out. Thanks again.

    Added: Okay found it. Makes sense.

  50. @Not the IT Dept.: I expect Google will explain better than I could. Basically commemorate coins of events or military units. As I understand the tradition upon a challenge to display the coin the person who is slowest getting their coin out pays for drinks, or something like that. They are also given as gifts.

  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I have no challenge coins OR money to pay for drinks. Those people are soooooo screwed.

  52. de stijl says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Projection is a hell of a drug.

  53. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    Slow down! If Drew isn’t J@nos nor Gaurneri, then who the fuck is Erik Florack? And is Tyrell fake?

    Someone needs to do a Power Point so I can sort these dudes out. And why is it always dudes? Can’t girls be trolls?

    I demand a proper accounting of OTB trolls and a new, girl troll. (But, please be an interesting troll! Tyrell has a fascinating shtick and a good hook – he’s basically unenlightened Jack McBreyer from S1 Kennenth Parcell.

  54. de stijl says:

    @Pylon:

    Barry Melrose is a super mensch! I love him and totally man-crush on him.

    And his hair! [swoon]

  55. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    At one point dude claimed to be General Council for Jimmie Johns some years back. Also, semi contemporaneously, a hedge fund guy and overall hyper savvy market guru and way-of-the-world super-capitalist expialadocious.

    Well, if not this dude, then the other one. They’re basically interchangeable.

  56. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Challenge coins are an artifact used by COs who are bad at their jobs and have no business leading anyone and memorized a “bad-ass” speech to stupify their underlings.

    Challenge coins and the baggage around them, and associated with them, are uniformly stupid. Not just routinely, but always.

    If someone offers you a challenge coin, there is a 100% probability that that person is a jackass who sucks at her or his job and any advice they offer with such coin is corny, maudlin and obvious.

  57. de stijl says:

    Besides, we’re jabbering on about the wrong thing.

    Those are obviously Horcruxes!

  58. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Correct. My father always carried one when he attended reunions of his WWII outfit.

  59. wr says:

    @de stijl: Florack used to be Bithead, and according to people with far more patience than I have, still has a website filled with uses of “the N word.” Nobody knows about Tyrell, who sometimes comes across as a troll and others as a kind of performance art, although he has kept his schtick up longer than I can imagine anyone having interest in.

    Then there are the interchangeable illiterate mouth breathers like One American and Bandit. It’s impossible to tell how many there actually are, since they all recite the same bullshit from right wing sites.

    Oh, and we have had a few who have represented themselves as female — Moderate Mom comes to mind, as does Someone from Somewhere (sorry, blanking on the proper nouns). Usually they start out by counseling everybody to stop the partisan acrimony and all get along, and then they begin to chant Trump propaganda.

  60. MarkedMan says:

    @wr:

    Oh, and we have had a few who have represented themselves as female

    1 American also claims to be female. The problem with anything that Trumpers say is that we start with the fact that their idol is a pathological liar. Common sense dictates that they are also liars.

  61. Just nutha says:

    @wr:

    Someone from Somewhere

    Barb in the Boonies? She claims to live in the same town I live in, ironically enough.

  62. mattbernius says:

    @Resistance Ron:

    It’s like voter ID. Am I supposed to assume every black person driving a car is doing so illegally?

    The issue wth voter ID is that all the studies have clearly demonstrated that members of minorities, under-represented, and low-income communities have lower rates of photo ID ownership. Full stop

    And that they have less convenient access to institutions that provide those IDs.

    Rates of identification-ownership are highest among White individuals,
    while other ethnic groups disproportionately lack necessary photo ID.
    Thirteen percent of Blacks, 10 percent of Hispanics, but only 5 percent
    of Whites lack photographic identification.
    • Lower-income individuals are less likely to have photo ID. Twelve
    percent of adults living in a household with less than $25,000 annual
    income lack photo ID, compared to just 2 percent in households with
    over $150,000 annual income.
    • Young adults are less likely to have photo ID: 15 percent of 17-20 yearolds
    lack photo ID, and 11 percent of those ages 21-24 lack photo ID.

    Source: http://www.projectvote.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/AMERICANS-WITH-PHOTO-ID-Research-Memo-February-2015.pdf

    So, without a plan in place to make it easy for everyone to get voter ID — and placing the infrastructure in place to make that possible — this is an example of voter suppression in terms of choosing options that will make it harder for select groups to vote.

  63. Blue Galangal says:

    @wr: While I endorse the idea of a graphic or flowchart (because I’m a geek shut up), you have distilled the phenomenon to its essence. Well done.

    Usually they start out by counseling everybody to stop the partisan acrimony and all get along, and then they begin to chant Trump propaganda.

  64. mattbernius says:

    @Resistance Ron: BTW, it’s not like Republicans are talking openly about a strategy of making just a little harder for certain groups to vote…

    Cindy Hyde-Smith on voter suppression: “And then they remind me, that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.” Nov 2nd in Columbus, MS.

    Was she making a joke? Sure. But the punch line is that this is well-documented Republican policy at the state level.