Stolen Elections: An American Tradition Since At Least 1800
We’re not huge fans of establishment Democrat Chuck Schumer, but he recently got something 100% correct: he said that Clinton & Co need to quit blaming others for their loss in 2016. (1)
The US has interfered in other countries’ elections many times; not even counting coups and regime change operations, these instances have been documented some 81 times, in fact. (2)
But this “nation of laws” has also subverted democracy on numerous occasions right here at home. And it has done so almost throughout its history.
In the presidential race of 1800, for example, supporters of Aaron Burr insisted that Thomas Jefferson had cheated him out of the presidency.
1824 – The next (in)famous example occurred in the contest between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams. Jackson had edged out Adams in the popular vote; he failed to win the Electoral College, though. In what Jackson supporters called the “Corrupt Bargain,” another presidential hopeful and congressman, Henry Clay, threw his support in the House to Adams. In return, Clay was named Secretary of State once the Adams administration was in place. Classic quid pro quo.
Fun Fact: By time he was 15, Adams – son of a Founding Father and former President – had already served as a translator in the court of Catherine the Great of Russia, Russian “colluder” that he was…
1876 – Democrats insisted that Rutherford B. Hayes stole this election. When the votes were tallied, it appeared that Democrat Samuel J. Tilden had won a majority in both the popular vote and by 184-165 in the Electoral College. However, four states were “unresolved” and accounted for 20 Electoral College votes. Hayes would not concede, and his backers screamed fraud.
Meanwhile, black voters had been beaten and intimidated throughout the South, but especially in Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana. Congress finally appointed a committee to adjudicate the matter; a “compromise” was reached, awarding the disputed Electoral College votes to Hayes and giving him a one-vote margin of victory.
More or less the same thing happened in 1884. In that case, though, the Republicans made the same accusations of fraud against Grover Cleveland.
1916 – The election between Charles Evans Hughes and incumbent Woodrow Wilson went unresolved for days. California held repeated vote counts leading Hughes’s supporters to consider the possibility of fraud.
This is getting tedious, so let’s fast forward to the year 2000 and the Gore/Bush contest. During that election, investigations found, there were “irregularities” precluding traditionally Democratic voters from exercising their franchise: mostly minorities and low-income citizens.
In Florida, 36,000 newly-registered voters were never added to the voter rolls. Others were declared “convicted felons” even though most of those weren’t. Strategic precincts were closed early, leaving lines of people not having voted. State Troopers searched people’s cars to prevent them from accessing the polls. Some precincts required not one (as mandated by law), but TWO photo IDs.
The Secretary of State, Kathleen Harris, supervised her state’s election process and served on George Bush’s brother’s gubernatorial campaign committee at the same time. Under her stewardship, ballot boxes weren’t collected, were misdirected and ballots went uncounted. A recount effort was launched, during which members of the GOP flew in from Washington D.C. In one instance, they punched and kicked a local election board official and intimidated others until they abandoned the recount.
In the end, the matter was resolved in a five-to-four SCOTUS decision. The Court ruled that a complete recount in Florida would be a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause because different counties have different ways of counting the votes.
Just four years later, Bush rode again, this time against John Kerry in 2004. Pre-election polls indicated that, among the millions of newly-registered voters, Kerry was strongly favored and that most of the two million who had voted for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader previously also favored Kerry.
Exit polls showed Kerry leading 53-47% in the popular vote and with a solid lead in the Electoral College as well. Yet the final tally registered 11.6 million votes more for Bush in 2004 than he’d gotten in 2000 – in other words, the majority of all those new registrants and the Nader voters who’d said they supported Kerry. This could not be verified, since Democratic voter registrations had disappeared, So did absentee and provisional ballots. Some of the absentee ballots did not have Kerry’s name on them – a mistake, they said, that occurred when Ralph Nader’s name was removed. Half the Americans overseas never received ballots.
Once again, there were problems noted in individual states. One Ohio precinct reported a somewhat unrealistic 98% voter turn-out – another, only 7%. Over 90,000 ballots in Ohio recorded NO vote for the office of President. One precinct never opened; voting machines were locked away or were “broken”.
In Minnesota, an elector voted for NC Senator John Edwards instead of John Kerry. In New York, several got Kerry’s middle initial wrong. They all made the same mistake.
Finally, we give “honorable mention” to former President Richard Nixon in 1972. In the most ill-conceived “opposition research” effort in the nation’s history, members of the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) broke into the DNC HQ at the Watergate hotel, stole documents and bugged the phones.
The wiretap didn’t function, though, so a group of five had to return to install a new microphone. A security guard noticed that door locks had been taped over so that they wouldn’t latch. He called the police; the burglars were arrested. Nixon swore that his staff were not involved and he was re-elected. He later had to resign and some 40 people were indicted or jailed in connection with the investigation that followed.
So, again, this “nation of laws” has a prolific history of election tampering. Pre- and post-Internet. Pre- and post-Cold War. If you want to blame Russians, go ahead. If you want to simultaneously claim that Hillary Clinton “won” by three million votes but that Jill Stein somehow siphoned away that win, go ahead. If you want to blame the “Bernie Bros” – whose votes were deemed superfluous – for not supporting your candidate, go ahead.
But you’re kidding yourself. Because this country has tainted its own elections. We’re just fine at doing it to ourselves, as Chuck Schumer intimated. We don’t need anyone’s “help”.
(1) Schumer: http://www.thedailybeast.com/schumer-rips-hillary-dont-blame-comey-or-russia-blame-yourself
(2) US Election Interference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu-JW68B5CQ
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