Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Russian view of USA election

On Nov. 3, 2020, election day in the USA, the Moscow Times reported:
Large-scale mail-in voting and late results in the 2020 U.S. presidential election could raise concerns over the transparency and legitimacy of the voting process, a senior Russian election official has said.

Nearly 100 million Americans have already voted early, both in person and by mail, as the coronavirus pandemic has upended the traditional approach to Election Day. President Donald Trump and his supporters have repeatedly railed against mail-in voting, highlighting that U.S. intelligence agencies have linked the practice to Russia’s efforts to undermine trust in the electoral process.

NIkolai Bulayev, the deputy chief of Russia’s Central Election Commission, called the U.S. election “alarming,” “dangerous” and “opaque” in comments on state television.

“Voting by mail at that volume cannot but be alarming because it’s so opaque,” Bulayev told the Rossia 24 broadcaster, claiming that some states are raising doubts even further by allegedly banning election monitors.

Bulayev cited media reports to bolster his arguments, claiming that “people who are long dead are casting ballots and that mailboxes are being broken into.”

Commenting on the likelihood that election results may not be announced on Tuesday night in case of a tight race, Bulayev said “counting votes for nine days is a dangerous procedure.”

“The results of such a vote with such large-scale use of mail-in voting cannot but cause concern about the legitimacy of this process,” he said, as quoted by the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

Similar views were reported after the Jan. 6 protests, such as this:
“The city on the hill has lost its shine,” said Konstantin Kosachev at Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia).

U.S. democracy is forever tainted, as the November election that ostensibly went for Biden was “opaque,” because numerous states changed voting rules on a whim. No wonder President Donald Trump’s supporters feel cheated. From now on, any party that loses an election will be able to plausibly claim that the “results were rigged,” said Yevgeny Shestakov, also at the Gazeta.

A recent Economist/YouGov poll (details) reports that 80% of Trump voters say that Biden did NOT legitimately win the election.

In another poll:

Only 27 percent of Republicans would remain loyal to their party if Trump were to start his own, according to the Suffolk University/USA Today poll, released Sunday.

Almost half –46 percent– would follow the former president, while the remainder indicated they would be undecided between the two.

So the Republican Party cannot dump Trump. It needs Trump to save the party.

TheWeek magazine reports criticism elsewhere in the world:

The U.S. has lost its right to criticize other countries that quash riots, said Ai Jun at the Global Times (China). Remember when Hong Kong protesters broke into the city’s legislative building in 2019? At the time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the scene “a beautiful sight,” while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. stood with the activists and supported their “freedom of expression.”

What’s particularly shocking, said Jafar Blori at Kayhan (Iran), is that the U.S. is now muzzling both the protesters and the president. Facebook and Twitter, under pressure from Congress, erased Trump from their sites and purged many of his followers. “Yes, you heard right, the biggest pretender to democracy and freedom of expression in the world,” the one that censures others for supposedly attacking the free press, “overnight became the biggest censor in the world!”

Democracy is “America’s most important brand,” said Oray Egin at Haberturk (Turkey)

Yes, the Democrats have seized power in a way that should be unacceptable in any democratic country. The magazine tries to blame it all on Trump and Trump supporters, but they were not the ones to change our election procedures to being so opaque.

A US Supreme Court dissent just cited this 2012 NY Times article:
While fraud in voting by mail is far less common than innocent errors, it is vastly more prevalent than the in-person voting fraud that has attracted far more attention, election administrators say. ...

The flaws of absentee voting raise questions about the most elementary promises of democracy. “The right to have one’s vote counted is as important as the act of voting itself,” Justice Paul H. Anderson of the Minnesota Supreme Court wrote while considering disputed absentee ballots in the close 2008 Senate election between Al Franken and Norm Coleman.

Voting by mail is now common enough and problematic enough that election experts say there have been multiple elections in which no one can say with confidence which candidate was the deserved winner. ...

The list of very close elections includes the 2008 Senate race in Minnesota, in which Mr. Franken’s victory over Mr. Coleman, the Republican incumbent, helped give Democrats the 60 votes in the Senate needed to pass President Obama’s health care bill. Mr. Franken won by 312 votes, while state officials rejected 12,000 absentee ballots. . . .

But almost nothing has been done about the distinctive challenges posed by absentee ballots. To the contrary, Ohio’s Republican secretary of state recently sent absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in the state. And Republican lawmakers in Florida recently revised state law to allow ballots to be mailed wherever voters want, rather than typically to only their registered addresses. ...

There is a bipartisan consensus that voting by mail, whatever its impact, is more easily abused than other forms. In a 2005 report signed by President Jimmy Carter and James A. Baker III, who served as secretary of state under the first President George Bush, the Commission on Federal Election Reform concluded, “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.”

On the most basic level, absentee voting replaces the oversight that exists at polling places with something akin to an honor system. “Absentee voting is to voting in person,” Judge Richard A. Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has written, “as a take-home exam is to a proctored one.” ...

Voters in nursing homes can be subjected to subtle pressure, outright intimidation or fraud. The secrecy of their voting is easily compromised. And their ballots can be intercepted both coming and going.

Voting by mail also played a crucial role in the 2000 presidential election in Florida, when the margin between George W. Bush and Al Gore was razor thin and hundreds of absentee ballots were counted in apparent violation of state law. The flawed ballots, from Americans living abroad, included some without postmarks, some postmarked after the election, some without witness signatures, some mailed from within the United States and some sent by people who voted twice. All would have been disqualified had the state’s election laws been strictly enforced. ...

There are much simpler and more effective alternatives to commit fraud on such a scale, said Heather Gerken, a law professor at Yale.

“You could steal some absentee ballots or stuff a ballot box or bribe an election administrator or fiddle with an electronic voting machine,” she said. That explains, she said, “why all the evidence of stolen elections involves absentee ballots and the like.”

Yes, mail-in and early votes were used to steal the election.

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