Media Mention

Paranoid Style of American Politics—Presidential Election Edition

November 30, 2020

Note: this piece was originally published in Reason, and was written by Checks & Balances member Jonathan Adler. 

It is nearly a month since election day and yet discredited and debunked claims of election fraud or “irregularities” continue to go viral on social media platforms. Even some otherwise reputable commentators seem to get sucked in. What is particularly frustrating is that so many of these claims are easy to check, and yet so few bother to make the effort.

So, for example, various sites breathlessly report about thousands of absentee ballots in Pennsylvania and Michigan that were returned on the same day they were requested. How could this be?!? In both states, voters were allowed (and often encouraged) to request and return absentee ballots in person at local election offices. Indeed, in both states early in-person voting was conducted just this way. The voter goes to their local election office, requests an absentee ballot, receives it and fills it out on the spot, and then returns it, all in one visit (as both the PA and MI Secretary of State sites make clear). These were technically “absentee” ballots—and recorded as such—though used for early in-person voting.

Powerline posted on an allegedly anomalous voter turnout spike in Wisconsin that vanishes upon examination: The spike was caused by comparing turnout as a percentage of eligible voters for 2016 with turnout as a percentage of registered voters in 2020. The apples-to-apples comparison shows turnout increased slightly—as one would expect given the stakes of the election and how much easier early and absentee voting was this year—and the alleged spike disappears.

These are hardly the only easy-to-check claims that got spread before folks bothered to check the facts. Through a link on Instapundit, I found this American Thinker piece that is emblematic of the claims that purport to show “election theft”—and illustrative of how weak these claims are.

Continue reading at Reason.