A letter by my friend Chuck Medvitz in last week’s paper [“State-level election systems need improvements,” Feb. 10] defended former President Trump’s “Big Lie” that he won the election in “landslide,” and that it was “stolen” from him by saying that “no court case has been found which denied a claim [ of fraud] because the claim was false.” He then noted the ruling of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where the dissenting minority claimed that election practices violated state laws but the votes were still counted.
On the first point, I refer readers to the detailed, 35-page decision by Judge James T. Russell of the Nevada District Court in Carson City, Nevada, throwing out the Trump campaign’s claim of fraud in that state’s election. The judge said the campaign “did not prove under any standard of proof that illegal votes were cast and counted, or legal votes were not counted at all, due to voter fraud.” The Judge dismissed the campaign’s suit “with prejudice,” ruling that the campaign failed to offer any basis for annulling the election results.
Similarly, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann rejected the Trump campaign’s request that mail ballots in Pennsylvania be rejected by the courts, saying the campaign presented “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations ... unsupported by evidence.”
In Arizona, a Republican claim of fraud was rejected by Judge Randall Warner of the Maricopa County Superior Court, who stated that he found “no misconduct, no fraud and no effect on the outcome of the election.” [A good summary of these and other cases can be found at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/nevada-trump-lawsuit-dismissed/2020/12/04/844d420a-3682-11eb-a997-1f4c53d2a747_story.html]
The Wisconsin case Mr. Medvitz mentions presents a very clear example of what is at stake —there and in Virginia and other states -- when people argue that votes should be thrown out. The legal battle in Wisconsin was over whether election officials used the right forms in getting voters to request an absentee ballot, and then certifying their votes, plus whether the polling places set up outdoors by election officials had been properly authorized. You read that right — no one was arguing that a single one of the votes cast were fraudulent.
The facts were that voters in the challenged counties in Wisconsin (predominantly Democratic areas) followed the instructions they were given by election officials (which were designed to make it simpler to vote), and every piece of information required by law to vote absentee was provided by the voters — just on one piece of paper rather than two. As Republican Justice Brian Hagedorn, who authored the majority opinion noted, Wisconsin law requires that the “will of the voter” be given effect where it can be ascertained, regardless of “informality or failure to comply fully with some of [the law’s] provisions.”
This is clearly the right result — it would have made no sense to throw out 170,000 votes in Wisconsin, as the Trump campaign was requesting, because all of the required information was provided on one official form rather than two. But it seems the whole point of the Trump campaign was not to throw out “fraudulent” votes, but rather just votes cast by presumptively Democratic voters. That is not how a fair election works.
Virginia has done a good job of making it easier for our citizens to vote safely and securely and easily. This is what is supposed to happen in a well-functioning democracy. I wish other states would follow our example, rather than trying to make voters jump through technical hoop after technical hoop to exercise their right to vote.
Former chairman of the Federal Election Commission