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Sorting the wheat from the chaff 

We have become a nation of cynics as we disbelieve anything stated if it isn’t from a source within our comfort zone. To suggest that there have been only four cases of documented voter fraud in the 2016 election is to reinvent the meaning of the word “fraud.”

Researching multiple sources on the net regarding voter fraud, you will indeed come up with a Washington Post story that purports that there were only four documented cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election. Along with this article are many articles from around the nation documenting egregious attempts to violate election laws and steal the votes of citizens. There were allegations that it happened in Broward County, Fla., where someone said they saw election officials stuffing ballot boxes and destroying ballots; complaints also surfaced in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, and elsewhere. The definition of voter fraud seems to be you have to have actually cast a fraudulent ballot. The vast majority of election disparities involve voting rosters containing large numbers of ineligible voters or attempts to engage in fraudulent activity, which for the most part, were unsuccessful.

A notorious case was that of Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D). He won his seat in 2008 over incumbent Norman Coleman (R) by a mere 312 votes. Most allegations of voter fraud occur in the most hotly contested races where the victor is separated from their opponent by less than a few hundred votes. In Franken’s case, there are allegations of more than 1,000 votes cast by convicted felons not eligible to vote, however, the election results were certified and the court challenge by Coleman was dismissed. It was a complex issue of how many votes were actually valid, involving thousands of ballots being examined in a half-year re-count process. In one precinct in Minnesota’s rural northeast, more votes were allegedly cast than there were registered voters, but the evidence was insufficient. Coleman eventually gave up. 

The actual problem is that the Justice Department isn’t really interested in investigating cases challenging the integrity of the election process, has few resources to do so, and courts are reluctant to be the deciders of the political process. Federal courts have also been indifferent to allegations of fraud, interpreting most attempts to tighten voter identification as thinly disguised efforts to suppress minority votes. Most people simply want to know that their votes aren’t stolen and elections are fair. They cannot understand the argument that in a society where it’s impossible to conduct virtually any business without some form of ID that demanding ID to protect our heritage from being stolen is somehow a nefarious plot to deprive others of their rights. Having participated in overseas elections as a peacekeeper in areas where terrorists threaten to kill those who vote, providing foolproof voting ID and implementing measures to protect electoral integrity is routine, yet it’s derided as discriminatory in America.

America’s ideological divide between conservatives and progressives has become a chasm; the left no longer looks at political disagreement in a civil manner, demonizing political opponents as not just holding incorrect views, but considering them to be evil and dangerous. Conservatives, bristling at being labeled racists, fascist, Nazis (an oxymoron as the Nazis were socialists) return the invective. What we’ve witnessed this week is a good example of the divide, with fear and hatred stoked by the media as it leaves out relevant facts.

President Trump doesn’t help his case much, obsessing as he does over trivia (such as crowd size at the inauguration) while making assertions based upon unproven allegations that voter fraud deprived him of millions of votes. This belief is understandable (but wrong) given that Clinton’s team was caught red-handed stealing the primary election from Sen. Sanders. Her public life was a documentary of public scandal and stonewalling corruption investigations, yet seemingly immune to consequences. She cheated during the primary debates by getting debate questions in advance and rigged the delegate selection process. Little wonder that a political novice like Donald Trump would believe the multiple reports fed to him that fraud played a major role in the 2016 election campaign!

This week the media whipped itself and Trump-haters into a fury over his executive order to restrict travel from seven Middle Eastern countries. Accusations of racism abound, brought about in part by his own rhetoric in the 2016 election which gave him a pyrrhic victory but no margin of public good will outside his base. The media left out that these countries were previously designated by President Obama as high-risk countries for supporting terrorist training camps with dysfunctional internal security systems, making vetting nearly impossible. As precedent, President Carter used nationality as a basis to expel Iranian students in 1979 during the hostage crisis and other presidents have issued similar orders. President Trump’s problem is that his order wasn’t properly staffed and was issued without proper preparation of officers in the field, resulting in considerable chaos and a public relations disaster. I’m sure his opponents are enjoying this, but the world’s too dangerous for us to re-fight the Civil War.

Al Fonzi is an army lieutenant colonel of military intelligence who had a 35-year career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com or write a letter to the editor at letters@newtimesslo.com

-- Al Fonzi - Atascadero

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