More broadly, allegations of voter fraud have increased in parallel with our country’s political polarization during the three presidencies. There have even been prosecutions in a number of states, typically relating to local elections. (Perhaps the most serious national‐level allegations in recent years involved Al Franken’s razor‐thin victory over Norm Coleman in the 2008 Minnesota Senate race.) This has led most prominently to a spate of voter‐ID laws—which have the salutary effect of increasing people’s confidence in election integrity, but don’t eliminate what fraud there is because most of it isn’t done through in‐person voting.
But in any case, 28 secretaries of state—the chief election official in each state—are Republicans, including in swing states such as Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, and Ohio. Many of them bear scars from legal battles with Democrat‐aligned activist groups over various areas of election administration and can hardly be complicit in some sort of anti‐Trump conspiracy.
Media bias is unfortunately baked into our political culture; Fox News is the (rather large) exception to the rule that journalists overwhelmingly prefer Democratic candidates. The same of course is true of Hollywood, higher education, and most other “influencers.” Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert alone significantly shaped the views of Millennials the last few election cycles. But this phenomenon has long been true and, regardless whether it’s a good or bad thing, it hardly makes an election illegitimate when voters have freely chosen a candidate based on media that they have voluntarily consumed.
And let’s not forget that Trump would never have gotten this far in the first place if not for his starring role on the network‐TV hit “The Apprentice” and the disproportionate coverage his campaign got during the Republican primaries. Perhaps the GOP has a valid beef that CNN (and Fox News) unduly boosted Trump, but The Donald himself can now hardly complain about all the attention he’s been getting.
Finally, the point about Clinton’s eligibility given the Justice Department’s decision not to indict—better framed as viability, because someone could theoretically run even from prison—has some merit, but not with respect to “rigging” the election. I have serious concerns about FBI Director James Comey’s non‐prosecution recommendation given the evidence of wrongdoing he himself detailed, as well as that which has come out since his July announcement. Like Chief Justice John Roberts’s extra‐legal ruling in the first Obamacare case, Comey’s attempt to extricate himself from the election ironically undermined the idea that there’s a difference between law and politics and that institutions exist to check the excesses of government officials.
Yet even as Clinton’s non‐prosecution increased cynicism and frustration—boosting burn‐it‐all‐down Trumpism—it hardly constitutes a fraudulent scheme.
Of course, some Trump apologists maintain that Trump’s posture simply allows himself the same wiggle room that Al Gore exercised in 2000—when he famously withdrew his concession and litigated the votes of four Florida counties all the way to the Supreme Court. I think that’s being too generous, even if, as Salena Zito wryly observed in The Atlantic, “the press takes him literally, but not seriously [while] his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”
There’s a difference between preserving the right to contest discrete irregularities—as what happened in Bush v. Gore—and questioning the legitimacy of our electoral system altogether. Regardless of the problems that emerge every cycle, alleging that the whole process is “rigged” is irresponsible and only serves to further poison our political culture.
If Trump loses, he has only himself to blame.