If half the American voters think an election was stolen it will destroy the country, or at least turn it into a North American version of the Balkans with rival tribes hating each other. Somebody needs to take a good look at what happened, allay suspicions, and let the losing side say ‘fair enough’.
WASHINGTON, DC: Tell intelligence officers not to look into an unexpected, controversial event that will determine a country’s future for years because there is “nothing to see”—and they will naturally think there is indeed something to see. Or at least something worth a closer look.
Then add to that a hair trigger, violent pushback for even suggesting taking a brief glance to verify the facts. At that point, it almost becomes the responsibility of the officer, or anyone intelligent, to take out a very bright light and shine it to make sure nothing is hiding in dark corners. To know, one way or another, what happened!
However, these days, if you just suggest all parties would benefit from some clarity on the convoluted and obscure (at best) mechanics of the US election, stand by for non-stop hectoring from people, many with vested interests: “There’s nothing to see”, “baseless”, “no evidence”, “conspiracy theory”, “perfectly clean”, “shut up—or else”. Likely followed by personal attacks.
It’s enough to raise an eyebrow.
What really happened on 3 November? I don’t know. How could anybody know for sure only days after a complex election in a nation of 340 million people in which standard voting regulations, already Byzantine, were further distorted by rushed, poorly discussed changes put in “because of Covid”? But we should want to know. Whatever “side” you are on, we should all want to be able to clearly and calmly answer every question, every concern.
Because one thing is certain: Lose faith in elections and people lose faith in their country.
I’ve seen this before. Having earlier assessed allegations of rigging in the 15 April 2020 South Korean National Assembly election, the US election seemed like déjà vu in some respects.
In both elections, the outcomes surprised many people. In South Korea, it was an overwhelming victory for the incumbent Democratic Party, taking 180 of 300 seats. That is enough to pass legislation at will, and with 3 more votes to potentially amend the Constitution.
In America the polls had Donald Trump being swept away in a “blue tidal wave”. Hardly!
Nonetheless, polls and predictions are often wrong.
But it’s once you start looking at the mechanics of what actually happened that the commonalities get really interesting:
CURIOUS VOTES AND JUST IN TIME
In both elections, votes came in with curious timing and in curious numbers to tip races to one side—and uniformly so.
Suspicion particularly centred on “early votes” in South Korea, and mail-in ballots in the US. In other words, the longer a ballot or vote was “out there” before Election Day, the bigger the chance of it behaving “oddly”.
In South Korea, the incumbent party won close races by tiny amounts as “early votes” were tabulated (after Election Day votes) and moved the count just enough in the “right” direction in district after district. In the US, huge Trump leads in key states disappeared in the dead of night—in some cases after observers were told counting would be paused for the night and they were sent home.
After both elections, eminent statisticians pointed out that voting patterns for the winning side were unnatural. In other words, “manmade”. And importantly, they put their calculations up for review and challenge.
SUSPECT ELECTION HARDWARE
In both questions were raised about election hardware—voting machines, ballot counters—and systems and possible manipulation, either directly or remotely.
Korean-made ballot counting machines already had a poor reputation—not to mention containing Chinese parts and being connected to an election computer network with Huawei components. South Korea’s National Election Commission (NEC) has been flogging machines overseas for years via its affiliated A-WEB organization. Korean-made machines’ reputation is such that a citizens’ groups in the Congo protested against the machines being used in their 2018 election, and Congolese citizens living in Korea protested directly to the NEC. Even US United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley insisted on paper ballots being used in the election.
In America, the US Congress held hearings in early 2020 to grill the main voting hardware companies’ CEOs about equipment vulnerabilities—including Chinese (and Russian) made parts. The New York Times even wrote an expose on such vulnerabilities in 2018. Texas and other states have refused to use hardware and software from Dominion Voting Systems—the company that is now getting much of the attention. The Texas Attorney General said of Dominion: “We have had these things tested and they have failed every time… It was determined they were not accurate and that they failed—they had a vulnerability to fraud and unauthorized manipulation.”
In both countries on voting day(s) there is evidence of machines counting wrongly. Just “glitches”, it’s said. But clever enough glitches to switch votes to another candidate—almost always from the same party.
And there’s more:
* Reports of problems at the polls—with poll watchers (almost invariably from the losing side) obstructed from doing their duties.
* In South Korea, the CCTVs were covered up at “early voting” sites. In the USA, windows were boarded at some counting locations.
* Problems in both elections with suspect paper ballots and so-called “chain of custody”.
* Districts with more votes than registered voters.
But maybe these are just the usual problems that come with any election? Inefficiency, incompetence, and even some confusion bordering on chaos don’t prove fraud.
OK. So let’s work together to clear up each of these issues. We just need to know. Since election integrity underpins any stable democracy and is the foundation of the social contract, it is essential to allay suspicions.
In that context, the South Korean and US responses—both government and civil organizations—to fraud allegations are worth considering.
Putting things simply, it’s: “Nothing to see”.
Not surprisingly, the “winners” aren’t interested in looking into the fraud charges. But it leaves the other side confused and scared, and so enraged. In America’s case, that is 73 million people. Not a good thing for a consensual democracy.
In neither South Korea nor the US has much been to show people the election wasn’t “stolen”.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
Let’s go down the list:
EXAMINE THE STATS: Respected statisticians have pointed out suspicious voting patterns. It’s easy for a government, the media, or election watchdog NGOs to engage other statisticians to examine, verify or refute the claims.
This hasn’t been done.
VERIFY THE TECH: How about an independent third party forensic review of machines and software—and the companies providing the systems—with full government cooperation? And publicize the results.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) declaring the US election the “safest election ever” doesn’t quite work since Dominion Voting Systems is part of the organization and is known from its own company’s testimony before Congress and statements such as those from Texas to be problematic at best. Read CISA’s statement, and it comes across as smarmy. And Dominion is on CISA’s Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council.
INTERVIEW THE WITNESSES: And as for the large number of complaints by poll watchers and others—to include sworn affidavits: people need to know these are taken seriously.
Is anyone looking into the claims and publicizing the findings?
In South Korea, neither the National Election Commission nor the judiciary has shown much interest.
CONDUCT INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIONS: In the US people might imagine a flying squad of Department of Justice lawyers and FBI agents descending on polling sites where fraud is alleged.
Not quite. Election fraud seems to be #1000 on the DOJ/FBI priority list.
But certainly the media is digging into the charges in South Korea and the US? After all it’s the press that keeps things honest.
Afraid not. In both countries the press has shown little interest, and instead mostly dismisses the claims as “baseless”. Easy enough if the press hasn’t looked.
In South Korea’s case, some reporters are pro-administration, but there is also fear of government reprisal, and also it’s hard work to dig into election fraud.
The US media has fewer excuses, and anyway, the mainstream press tossed impartiality out the window some years ago. Donald Trump has been its prime enemy since before he took office. Some in the US press have also usurped the role of the legally empanelled bodies and constitutional processes by declaring Joseph Biden the election winner.
Once upon a time the words “nothing to see here” would have fired up American reporters looking to make a name for themselves. That, however, is a species of reporter that no longer exists. Can anyone name today’s Woodward and Bernstein?
SO WHAT NOW?
In both countries, the challengers face an almost impossible task of examining and proving election fraud on a national scale. They have to do it in a very short time and without help from the press or government agencies whose job it is to root out election fraud—and while risking vicious personal attacks for daring to ask the questions in the first place. Good luck.
Perhaps like a lot of citizens, I was hoping for an election that would quickly be resolved one way or the other.
But not one that left me feeling like I tried my luck at “three card monte” in Times Square, or voted in Chicago, which is the same thing.
This is depressing.
If half the American voters think an election was stolen it will destroy the country—or at least turn it into a North American version of the Balkans with rival tribes hating each other. Meanwhile, Beijing will break out the celebratory firecrackers (or even more advanced firepower).
Somebody needs to take a good look at what happened, allay suspicions, and let the losing side say “fair enough”.
Let the chips fall where they may.
But if the response is just, “nothing to see here…get over it and move on…for the good of the country”, that will solve nothing. The festering national wound needs the disinfectant of bright sunlight if it is going to heal.
And even the United States does not have unlimited chances to get this right.
Col. Grant Newsham (Ret.) is a senior research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies and a retired US Marine officer.