Nov 13, 2020

The real fraud is "election fraud"

The real fraud is "election fraud"

A definitive breakdown of what is happening.

I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, ad-free, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum — then “my take.” If someone sent you this email, or you came across this story online, you can sign up below.

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This read: 19 minutes.

Before Election Day, I issued a dark warning to Tangle readers: be prepared for an avalanche of conspiracy theories and outlandish claims when the vote counting starts.

At the time, I was expecting a close race, taking the temperature of what was happening on social media already and considering a president who, after winning the 2016 election, still alleged that three million people voted illegally. By 10 a.m. EST on Election Day, I knew my worst fears were coming true. By noon, I knew they were going to be exceeded. But I had no idea I’d be at the center of an effort to slow the spread of misinformation.

The flood of claims about widespread election fraud have come from every source imaginable. It’s not just brand new, anonymous Twitter accounts claiming to be “data scientists” with stock photo images as profile pictures. It’s not just niche, ignorant social media celebrities who don’t know anything about politics or elections outside of what they can find in a 20-second Google search. It has also been verified Twitter accounts, sitting members of Congress, podcast hosts, journalists, pundits and the President of the United States, all spreading these theories without a second thought to the consequences.

Before I get into the specifics — which I promise I will — I want to address an elephant in the room and then talk about the overarching themes of these claims and the common sense rationale that eliminates most of them.

So, the elephant: let me state unequivocally on the record that voter fraud and election fraud do happen, however rarely. These two distinct types of fraud were very common in the 19th century and even the early 20th century, but they are far, far less common now. Actual voter fraud consists of one-offs like double voting, impersonating a voter, voting in counties where one is not eligible, or someone like a felon voting without having had their rights restored. These acts of individual illegal voting are very, very rare and carry harsh penalties. One study of “impersonation incidents,” which justify voter ID laws, found 31 illegal votes cast among one billion between 2000 and 2014. In the five states that have primarily mail-in voting (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington), there has been virtually no fraud. In Oregon, out of 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000, just about a dozen were proven to be fraudulent.

Election fraud is very rare too, but it also happens. Election fraud is the systematic corruption of an election, usually executed by political operatives, consisting of things like ballot harvesting (the collection and submission of absentee or mail-in ballots in states where that is illegal) or forging of ballot signatures. One of the most recent and well-known examples of election fraud was carried out in 2018 by a Republican political operative in North Carolina in a race decided by just 900 votes. In May of this year, a Philadelphia judge was convicted of accepting bribes to stuff ballot boxes to help Democratic candidates. In an almost comical scene, the judge confessed to standing inside a ballot booth trying to vote as many times as possible when “the coast was clear.”

He was tried and convicted by Judge Paul S. Diamond, the same judge now overseeing — and dismissing — a number of the Trump campaign’s lawsuits in Philadelphia.

Given all this, and given my general skepticism toward the government and mainstream narratives, I am very interested in looking into claims of fraud. I’m the same guy who believes the U.S. government is covering up some evidence of UFOs (partly because they’ve recently admitted as much). I’m the kind of reporter who does not like to use “comments from intelligence officials” in my sourcing. I have no loyalty to either political party. I created this media outlet to help bridge a divide between the right and left and get us all closer to a shared reality. I am, in a word, a skeptic seeking out something that’s as close to truth as possible.

And yet, most of the more viral stories are bizarre, deranged claims of widespread fraud, devoid of evidence, that can be easily explained by anyone who understands how our elections actually function at a granular level. And if they can’t be explained, it’s because there is simply no supporting evidence to examine. In order to believe nearly all of the theories currently spreading online, you have to also believe an untenable number of nearly impossible — or at least totally irrational — things at once.

For starters, you need to believe that election fraud is somehow limited entirely to the states where the president is losing and is non-existent in the states where he is winning. There were battleground states across the country this year, but somehow this purported fraud is exclusively being alleged in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada. Meanwhile, we are also expected to believe the races in Florida, Texas, Maine, and North Carolina have been magically fraud-free.

Second, you have to believe that Democrats engineered a massive, cross-state fraud campaign for presidential votes but somehow managed to underperform in both the Senate and House races across the country. You have to believe that they were both competent enough to execute this fraud but incompetent enough to lose dozens of elections that they desperately needed and intended to win. Or, if you believe they lost so many House and Senate races in order to make it look less suspicious, you then have to believe that they were both shrewd enough to shoot themselves in the foot for the next four years and incompetent enough that they got caught pulling off an election heist unlike any other in American history by a bunch of anonymous internet sleuths.

Third, you need to believe that the fraud is continuing to happen right now — even as election officials, Republican operatives, judges, lawyers, journalists and citizens of all stripes descend on all of these states and cities where alleged fraud has happened. Why do you have to believe that? Because, in states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia, where the foundation of fraud claims has been Biden’s performance amongst mail-in voters, the count has been proceeding unhindered for the last week. And during that count, Biden has continued to extend his lead across all of those states, even as those vote counts are under closer scrutiny than any in American history.

The most obvious point to make here is that if Democrats were shipping in ballots, stuffing ballots, changing votes, or re-scanning ballots and suddenly got caught — the strong margins they were pulling in would have stopped, too. But they haven’t. Because they’re real! The margins have actually continued at the same clip we saw on and immediately after Election Day, despite all the additional oversight, because the votes are real, and because Donald Trump is losing this election.

Fourth, and perhaps most critically, you also need to believe that there are dozens if not hundreds of poll workers knowingly committing felonies on live streams across the United States. Think about that: nearly every single one of the most viral videos alleging fraud has consisted of actual footage of poll workers committing alleged crimes in front of cameras because we are witnessing the most transparent election in U.S. history. That is not hyperbolic: the vote counts are literally being live-streamed online from cameras inside polling places. Election workers, of course, know this.

Finally, above all else, you have to believe that the Trump administration is for some reason holding onto smoking gun evidence of widespread fraud yet totally incapable of presenting it in court — for whatever reason. Not a single judge has taken the Trump administration’s allegations of fraud seriously enough to even allow a case to go forward. In fact, most Trump team lawyers aren’t even alleging fraud in court. Practically every allegation of fraud or unfair poll watching circumstances has already been thrown out — nearly a dozen, according to Democratic lawyer Marc Elias, who is fighting them in court. The Trump campaign has presented hundreds of pieces of “evidence.” Yet, remarkably, when Trump lawyers are asked under oath if they are alleging fraud, or if their poll watchers were actually barred from observing the count, or if they have anything more than hearsay to support their claims, their answers are always the same: No. No. No.

These realities apply directly to nearly every claim I’ve seen go viral on the internet in the last week. And I know, because I’ve been tracking them in a Twitter thread that’s now nearly 400 tweets long and has been seen by more than five million people. Here are just a few examples.

One of the most common kinds of videos to go viral are videos of poll workers “filling out ballots.” As the story goes, these videos — almost all taken via live streams that are happening inside polling places — show election workers filling in empty ballots, which to a conspiratorial eye looks like a clear cut case of fraud. The truth, though, is that almost all of these people are participating in what is called “ballot remaking.” It happens when tabulation machines have trouble reading a ballot. Here is how Bloomberg described it in a story published before the election. The description is underneath a photo of an election worker:

"In the fifth step, workers 'remake' ballots that have readability problems or that voters made a mistake on and tried to correct—as long as the intention of the voter can be understood—so that the ballots can be read by tabulation machines. The original ballot is attached to the remade ballot for auditing purposes. Remaking is performed by a two-person team, the partner of the worker pictured here is off-camera due to social distancing.”

Now here is a screenshot of one of the videos purporting to show a poll worker “filling out someone’s ballot.” Does this look like what’s being described above?

As you can see, the woman is remaking the ballot while the man reads the votes of the ballot that is soiled. This is how election workers ensure your real vote is counted. This happens in every election all over the country. This particular video had nearly a million views in a tweet alleging fraud (last I checked, the video had been taken down). I counted at least five other videos — with millions of views — showing the exact same ballot remaking process that internet sleuths have attempted to use as proof of fraud.

Another now-famous video was one that the president himself shared. Since it has gone viral already, I feel comfortable linking to it — but you don’t need to watch it to understand. In the video, a woman approaches two men while filming on her phone. The men are picking up ballots from a USPS drop box, both with duffel bags. The woman questions them, films them, and asks to see their identification. Despite her tone, the men oblige, both showing her their ID cards on camera. She later shared the video in an effort to depict the men as illegally picking up or harvesting ballots.

On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted the video out with the caption: “You are looking at BALLOTS! Is this what our Country has come to?” The short clip was taken in California and now has over seven million views. But there was nothing at all nefarious about the video. As early as November 4th, Los Angeles County explained that the video showed a totally normal vote-counting step. From The Los Angeles Times:

In fact, the boxes had been closed and locked the night of the election, when the polls closed, and it took time for election workers to collect them in the following days. Under state law, mail votes cast by election day will be collected and counted until Nov. 20.

And the county chimed in too, noting “all drop boxes were closed and located at 8PM on Election Night and ballots were collected the following day. These are valid ballots that will be processed and counted during the post-election canvass — like all outstanding vote by mail ballots.”

Similar misunderstandings — people seeing something they didn’t understand and alleging fraud — erupted across the country. Some people saw videos of workers sorting ballots into bins and thought they were throwing the ballots out. Many have seen state records showing dead people received ballots, apparently unaware that sending ballots to dead people erroneously does not mean those people vote.

Others misunderstood birthdays coded in the 1800s or early 1900s thinking they were evidence of fraudulent votes on behalf of dead people, unaware that some states give people odd birthdays or incorrect addresses when paper rolls are moved to digital rolls or in order to disguise their identities when they’re victims of domestic violence. A lot of the conspiracies are based on the belief that election officials don’t run voter rolls and voting records against death records, or don’t sometimes make clerical errors in filing birthdays, all of which they routinely do. Still, CNN actually took the allegations seriously, looked into 50 names on a viral list of “14,000 dead Michigan voters,” and of the 50 this is what they found: 37 are dead and didn’t cast a vote. Five are alive and voted. Eight are alive and didn’t vote.

Notably, the Trump campaign is publicly claiming dead people vote but has not filed those claims in any court yet, save one exception in Nevada where a grand total of two ballots are being challenged for being sent in on behalf of dead people. Two. And it’s still being investigated.

Again: votes on behalf of dead people aren’t being counted.

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In Pennsylvania and Detroit, videos of Trump-supporting poll watchers being turned down from polling places went viral. As the story goes, these watchers were meant to oversee the count — and were being rejected specifically for their political leanings. These claims, too, are spurious.

For starters, polling places often have regulations that ensure a balance of poll watchers — meaning, say, a polling place will have 10 Republicans, 10 Democrats and 10 “non-partisans” or “independents” watching the count. So when a horde of poll watchers filming on their phones arrives at a random polling place and demands to be let in, they should expect to be turned away because that’s not how this works. In many states, the whole point is to keep a balance. This, it appears, is at least what happened in Detroit, where videos of election workers papering up the windows to block people from filming went viral.

What everyone seemed to misunderstand, though, is that there were poll watchers inside the room already. It wasn’t just Republican challengers being kept out, it was Democratic challengers too. And the windows were papered up because people were filming and taking pictures of ballots being counted, pounding on the windows and screaming “stop the count!” — which strikes me as a pretty reasonable response on the part of poll workers. And all of this happened with 134 Republican challengers, 134 Democratic challengers and 134 nonpartisan challengers present, and “freely roaming” at the convention center monitoring the vote.

There was no conspiracy. Just a limit on the number of challengers in the room. This has been borne out in court in Detroit, where the most damning allegations were not of fraud but of a poll watcher wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, or suspicion aroused because one poll worker saw that 80% of absentee military ballots went for Joe Biden. “I had always been told that military people tended to be conservative, so this stuck out to me,” the witness said in court.

Many of the poll watchers only had about 20 minutes of training before being allowed into the room and clearly didn’t understand some of what they witnessed. For example, one witness complained in court that a stack of absentee ballots was in pristine condition and appeared to have never gone through the mail. That might be because Michigan allows people to drop off their absentee ballots in drop boxes or at a county clerk’s office so they don’t have to mail them. In public, the Trump campaign promised it would provide evidence that would overturn the results. In court, the story has been very different.

From The Washington Post:

To back up that lawsuit, Trump’s campaign had promised “shocking” evidence of misconduct. Instead, the campaign produced 238 pages of affidavits from Republican poll watchers across Michigan containing no evidence of significant fraud but rather allegations about ballot-counting procedures that state workers have already debunked — and in some cases, complaints about rude behavior or unpleasant looks from poll workers or Democratic poll watchers.

Similar cases unfolded in Philadelphia. One, in particular, was this video, which you may have seen. This does appear to be a genuine video of a Trump-supporting Philadelphia poll watcher being wrongfully denied entry to a polling place. But the man involved in the video, Gary Feldman, told several news outlets that it was a good-faith misunderstanding about a rule that had recently been changed and that he was allowed into every other polling place he visited that day. Nobody was alleging anything nefarious except the person who shared the video under the #StopTheSteal hashtag.

Another common theme of fraud allegations has been that it can be revealed through so-called “statistical analysis.” The most popular of these claims revolves around Benford’s Law, which is a statistical observation used to identify “anomalous” numbers. An anonymous Twitter account created on Election Day and purporting to be run by a professor who was trying to teach a student a lesson claimed that Joe Biden’s vote tallies deviate from Benford’s Law, showing classic signals of anomalous numbers. Of course, the person who started these allegations makes pains to say this is not proof of fraud, only a red flag that it may exist.

But it exploded immediately. My inbox was full of notes from people claiming that Benford’s Law proves voter fraud occurred. Most of these people relied on a single paper from a University of Michigan professor who did not argue that Benford’s Law could be used to detect fraud but did argue that it was a legitimate “red flag” test to take an extra look. However, professors at the University of Oregon, Caltech, and an undergraduate Georgetown University student have all published work challenging the use of Benford’s Law even for the preliminary step of spotting potential fraud in elections.

Peter Ordeshook, a Political Science professor at Caltech, wrote that it was “problematical at best” when applied to elections: “We find that conformity with and deviations from Benford's Law follow no pattern… Its ‘success rate’ either way is essentially equivalent to a toss of a coin, thereby rendering it problematical at best as a forensic tool and wholly misleading at worst.”

In other words: no actual expert is arguing that it can be used to prove fraud, and there is robust debate over whether it can even be used as a statistical signal of potential election fraud. The latest research suggests not.

Similar “analysis” has been applied in other ways. For instance, claims that “voter turnout exceeded registration” (which is most often people being unaware that a state has same-day registration, misunderstanding likely voters vs. registered voters, or comparing voter rolls from different years) or that President Trump ran behind Senate candidates in a way that was mathematically impossible. These claims, too, are nonsense. Trump ran behind some Senate candidates (as he did in Georgia) and ran ahead of others (as he did in Arizona). This happens in nearly every presidential election with an incumbent and is not unusual at all. Most of these claims include people selectively choosing only certain races to make their point — when a holistic look at results doesn’t back up the thesis.

This is also true for the many “swing county” theories out there. These are theories where people are alleging that some set of swing states has called every race accurately for some amount of time until this race — proof that the election was stolen at the presidential level (i.e. Trump won bellwether counties but lost the presidential race). Here is what this looks like out in the wild:

The chart above purports to show that Donald Trump won a large portion of the bellwethers but lost the race. Aside from the obvious, which is that bellwether counties change every election, it’s also worth pointing out that there are sometimes 50 or even 100 bellwether counties to choose from in any given year, and this is only a small subset of them.

For instance, in October, Cook Political posted a story about 10 bellwether counties it said would determine the race. Here are the counties with the eventual winners of the county in parentheses: Kent County, MI (Biden). Wood County, OH (Trump). Erie County, PA (Biden). Sauk County, WI (Biden). Marshall County, IA (Trump). Maricopa County, AZ (Biden). Pinellas County, FL (Biden). Peach County, GA (Trump). New Hanover County, NC (Biden). Collin County, TX (Trump).

In other words, Cook Political isolated these 10 counties as the ones that would signal the winner in the race, and Biden won 6 of 10. He also won the presidential race. Given that we saw traditional Republican states like Georgia and Arizona go blue this year, and given that Trump lost support with white voters but gained with nonwhite voters, it’s also worth reiterating that this election is going to once again change the counties we use to predict races — because this election is fundamentally changing how we think about the electorate, which happens every few years. Without fail, “analysis” like this is either cherry-picked or demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how elections usually work — and tries to explain it all as fraud.

Finally, I’ll touch briefly on the granddaddy of them all: the Dominion Voting Systems. If you’re not aware of this theory, count your blessings. This is the allegation that a software system funded by Democrats (or China or Iran depending on who you follow) is “switching” votes from Trump to Biden across the country. This theory started after a county clerk in Michigan spotted anomalies in the votes coming out and realized her machine was “flipping” Trump votes to Biden.

Immediately, rumors began spreading that the Dominion Voting Systems had a “software glitch” that was swapping Trump votes to Biden across the country. But this was not a software glitch. It was human error, according to both Republican and Democratic state officials in Michigan. In Antrim County, unofficial results did in fact show Biden beating Trump by 3,000 votes, which was odd. The county is normally a Republican stronghold. So election workers double-checked and found out they had “configured the Dominion ballot scanners and reporting software with slightly different versions of the ballot, which meant that the votes were counted correctly but that they were reported incorrectly,” as state officials said. The correct tallies had Trump beating Biden by 2,500 votes.

“There was no malice, no fraud here, just human error,” County Clerk Sheryl Guy told The Associated Press, trying to calm down the conspiracies. Unfortunately, her quote hardly has the virality of claims about massive voter fraud encoded in software.

Is all this concerning? Yes. But it’s also not new. We had serious issues with these same machines in 2018 in Georgia, which everyone who actually covers this stuff consistently would remember. Georgia spent $107 million for the machines only to have election workers struggle to operate them because of a lack of training. This year, though, there were far fewer incidents because election officials got more robust training — nearly eliminating any problems with the systems across the country.

The point here should be how hard it is for a mistake like this to go unnoticed. Votes are double and triple-checked, safeguards are in place to catch mistakes, and recounts and audits are used to verify counts. So far, we have two counties that are reporting issues with Dominion Voting Systems, and the other one — Oakland County, Michigan — was also human error. Officials mistakenly counted votes from the town of Rochester Hills twice. Republican and Democrat election officials in these counties are all affirming this — there is no massive fraud. They corrected the issue and recounted the votes.


The report, from the right-wing propaganda network OANN, claims that “an unaudited analysis of data obtained from Edison Research, states using Dominion Voting Systems may have switched as many as 435,000 votes from President Trump to Joe Biden. And the author also finds another 2.7 million Trump votes appear to have been deleted by Dominion, including almost 1 million Trump votes in Pennsylvania alone.”

So what did people do? They reached out to Edison Research to ask about their report. The response, from Edison Research President Larry Rosin, was simple and to the point: “Edison Research created no such report and we are not aware of any voter fraud.” Again: OANN is alleging a “glitch” in a voting system that has no history of “glitches” yet somehow deleted 2.7 million votes. All of this stuff is being concocted out of thin air.

It’s not just the right, either. When things were looking grim on election night, liberals spread conspiracies about the vote count in Kentucky and about hundreds of thousands of ballots getting “lost in the mail” thanks to the USPS. Both of these claims went viral and neither were true — indicating to me that, yes, plenty of people on the left were liable to have gone down this rabbit hole as well, had they been motivated by a loss.

But let’s assume for a moment that you’ve gotten this far and you are not convinced by my arguments. Perhaps you think I’m a liberal shill or someone with Trump Derangement Syndrome or just another member of the corrupt mainstream media (despite, you know, writing an independent politics newsletter). You don’t have to believe me. You can just look directly at what is happening in court. “President Trump has claimed widespread fraud was at play in the presidential election,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “Several of his lawyers have told judges in courtrooms across the country that they don’t believe that to be true.”

Much has been made about the hundreds of sworn affidavits and statements signed and delivered to courtrooms across the U.S. — all presumably alleging fraud. Fortunately for us, elections aren’t litigated by retweets or likes. If they were, we’d be doomed. Which begs the question: how are Trump’s claims holding up in court? The way those affidavits have actually played out is informative.

In Arizona, Judge Daniel Kiley reprimanded the Trump campaign’s lawyer Kory Langhofer for filing evidence in court that was collected via forms online. When questioned by the judge, Langhofer conceded that the Trump campaign’s own investigation discovered the forms were full of lies and “spam.” “How is that a reliable process of gathering evidence?” the judge asked, before blocking the admission of the “evidence.” Later, Langhofer — the Trump campaign lawyer — addressed reporters: “This is not a fraud case,” he said, explaining the lawsuit is about flaws in the voting system. “It is not a stealing-the-election case.”

The day before, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, a judge asked Trump lawyer Jonathan Goldstein directly if he was alleging fraud took place. “Your honor, accusing people of fraud is a pretty big step,” Goldstein said. “And it is rare that I call somebody a liar, and I am not calling the Board of the DNC or anybody else involved in this a liar. Everybody is coming to this with good faith.” So the judge pressed on.

“Are you claiming that there is any fraud in connection with these 592 ballots?” the judge asked.

"To my knowledge at present, no," Goldstein replied.

"Are you claiming that there is any undue or improper influence upon the elector with respect to these 592 ballots?" he asked.

"To my knowledge at present, no," Goldstein replied.

Take this reporting from the Philadelphia Inquirer, explaining that Trump’s legal team isn’t actually alleging fraud, but instead hoping to delay the vote certification long enough to find the evidence they simultaneously claim they already have.

But notably, despite the president’s frequent public claims of widespread and systemic voter fraud, the suit fails to make even a single allegation — let alone provide evidence — of one ballot being deliberately cast illegally. Instead, it focuses entirely on complaints about the process of how administrators oversaw the casting and counting of votes. The suit is rife with speculative reports and theories of wrongdoing from Trump’s on-the-ground monitors in Philadelphia, its suburbs and Allegheny, Centre and Northampton Counties — all of which broke decisively for Biden.

In a brief filed with the court Thursday, the campaign acknowledged its lack of evidence, saying its goal was to persuade the judge to halt the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results long enough to find information to support their theories of wrongdoing.

Similar interactions happened when the Trump campaign tried to claim they weren’t allowed to observe the vote in Philadelphia. In front of Judge Diamond, the same judge who was prosecuting another judge for actual fraud in May, the Trump team’s claims crumbled. When Diamond delivered sharp questioning to the Trump lawyers about poll watchers being “blocked,” the lawyers conceded they did have “a nonzero number of people in the room,” which I suppose is really awful lawyer-speak for having poll watchers present. Judge Diamond, who was appointed by George W. Bush, seemed to agree, becoming “audibly exasperated,” as the Inquirer put it. “I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?” he asked. It’s not entirely clear.

In Detroit, a judge and a Trump campaign lawyer got into an argument over the definition of hearsay when the Trump campaign tried to present a rumor that ballots were being backdated as evidence. The judge ultimately ruled the evidence and argument were “inadmissible hearsay within hearsay.” The Trump campaign appealed and lost that appeal for not including the proper documentation.

In Georgia, a nearly identical circumstance played out. The Trump campaign brought witnesses forward claiming ballots were being backdated. Under questioning from the judge in Chatham County, the witnesses said under oath they did not actually know if the ballots were received after the deadline. Two other witnesses actually testified the opposite under oath: they said the ballots were received on time.

In another viral case from Pennsylvania, USPS worker Richard Hopkins claimed he heard Postal Service workers discussing backdating ballots. He signed an affidavit claiming as such after appearing in a viral video posted by Project Veritas, a guerilla media outfit that is well-known for undercover “sting” operations on liberals. But after being questioned by a USPS Inspector General, he recanted his statement. Then he recanted the recant, going back to Project Veritas claiming he was coerced. Project Veritas posted a two-hour audio recording of the questioning, which I actually listened to, and it becomes clear Hopkins is both an unreliable narrator and was actually treated fairly by the investigators, who checked in to see if he was okay and comfortable or wanted to call a lawyer about a dozen times in two hours.

In the end, Hopkins won’t testify in court, signed an affidavit recanting his claims, and has totally undermined his allegations.

The reality that there has been no widespread election fraud that would change the outcome of any of these races has been reinforced and reiterated by everyone who matters. Republican and Democrat State election officials in nearly every state contacted by The New York Times were unanimous: they did not have evidence of fraud. Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security, run by his appointees, released a similar statement last night: “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history,” it said. “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” Elected Republicans in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan have all been unequivocal: they have no evidence of fraud. On Thursday, Senate Republicans — including Trump allies like Sen. Lindsey Graham — began insisting that Joe Biden be given national security briefings.

At this point, the only thing approaching a court victory for the Trump campaign is a Pennsylvania judge who ruled that counties can’t include a small pool of mail ballots from people who failed to provide identification that was required by Monday afternoon. None of those votes had been counted yet — and they’re not part of Biden’s lead, which is more than 54,000 votes in the state.

In response, Trump's allies have resorted to offering cash rewards for the evidence that they claimed to have already had. In Texas, the lieutenant governor has offered a $1 million reward for evidence of voter fraud. Project Veritas is also now offering a cash prize after their signature witness signed an affidavit recanting his allegations. In Arizona, the state GOP is promoting a website for voters to report allegations. It should go without saying, but offering money or online forms for evidence is not a particularly good way to collect reliable evidence. It also doesn’t signal a lot of confidence in the existence of said evidence.

While these claims have not held up in court, the real-world implications are serious. Some poll workers have already been threatened and gone into hiding after their faces were plastered on videos claiming they committed federal crimes to upend the election. Those poll workers — who risked their own personal health and safety, some even contracting coronavirus in the process — decided to volunteer or work for a low wage in the middle of a pandemic. They committed an act of civic duty, and this is how we’re rewarding them? It’s reprehensible.

In the meantime, millions and millions of Americans are being convinced this election was fraudulent, despite the fact their preferred candidate’s lawyers aren’t even arguing that in court. History indicates a populace that believes their vote is being stolen is also a populace liable to commit violence, and at least two people have already been arrested for driving from Virginia to Philadelphia with weapons intent on “straightening things out.” To put this in perspective, as Ari Berman noted, there have been more Trump aides who’ve tested positive for coronavirus since the election than documented cases of voter fraud in court. Consider that.

Joe Biden won this election. It was a clean, transparent, and fair election. Will isolated instances of voter fraud pop up? I’m sure they might. But we are 10 days into this mess and there is still not a single piece of evidence showing that election fraud occurred in any capacity that would even have a prayer of changing these results. And such evidence is not forthcoming. Biden is winning the race by the same electoral college margin and by wider vote margins that Donald Trump won in 2016, when there were no recounts or allegations of fraud.

The election is over. And it’s time, as a country, to come back down to earth and let this fever dream go.

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Isaac Saul
I'm a politics reporter who grew up in Bucks County, PA — one of the most politically divided counties in America. I'm trying to fix the way we consume political news.