It’s not just the Democrats who are frustrated by Donald Trump’s “rigged election” talk.Gosh, where would Trump have gotten the idea that Democrats win elections by stealing them? Could he have picked that up from every Republican in the past sixteen years? Could it be because the party has been obsessed with (almost entirely imaginary) electoral fraud since the 2000 election?
Republicans have started warning their increasingly ostracized nominee to stop stoking his supporters with claims that the 2016 election will be stolen, daring him to show proof or put a lid on it.
“Somebody claiming in the election, ‘I was defrauded,’ that isn’t going to cut it,” said former Sen. Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican.... “They’re going to have to say how, where, why, when.”
“I don’t think leading candidates for the presidency should undercut the process unless you have a really good reason,” Sen. Lindsey Graham ... told POLITICO.
Kit Bond in particular has some nerve criticizing Trump for this, given his history:
After the 2000 election Missouri became the epicenter of lurid rumors. John Ashcroft lost his US Senate race.... Senator Kit Bond decried a St. Louis court order that allowed polling places to stay open two hours later to accommodate voters, charging that the election had been stolen by “a major criminal enterprise designed to defraud voters.”Bond made this a crusade:
Republican losses, Bond told reporters, were due in part to dogs and dead people voting. Ritzy Meckler, a springer spaniel whom some jokester had registered to vote by mail, became a cause célèbre....And that was only a small part of the larger GOP campaign to persuade Americans that our elections are rife with fraud, as we learned in 2007:
Shortly after Florida's shoddy procedures became a national sensation in 2000, Congress began work on legislation to clean up the voting system.... The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) passed by huge majorities in October 2002 and was signed a few days later by President Bush.
But along the way, Bond made sure that the act was also a vehicle for his voter fraud crusade. Bond regaled reporters and senators with his tales of brazen abuses, often invoking Ritzy Meckler (who, it should be noted, never cast a ballot). The only way to fix these problems, he said, was to make sure each voter had to show ID at the polling place.
Nearly half the U.S. attorneys slated for removal by the administration last year were targets of Republican complaints that they were lax on voter fraud, including efforts by presidential adviser Karl Rove to encourage more prosecutions of election- law violations, according to new documents and interviews.And this despite the fact that the problem is mostly imaginary:
In her 2010 book, The Myth of Voter Fraud, Lorraine Minnite tracked down every single case brought by the Justice Department between 1996 and 2005 and found that the number of defendants had increased by roughly 1,000 percent under Ashcroft. But that only represents an increase from about six defendants per year to 60, and only a fraction of those were ever convicted of anything. A New York Times investigation in 2007 concluded that only 86 people had been convicted of voter fraud during the previous five years. Many of those appear to have simply made mistakes on registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, and more than 30 of the rest were penny-ante vote-buying schemes in local races for judge or sheriff. The investigation found virtually no evidence of any organized efforts to skew elections at the federal level.But the right has demagogued this isue nonetheless. The right destroyed ACORN over this issue. The right made the New Black Panthers, whose members can probably be counted on one hand, into a household name, at least among conservatives, over this issue. Draconian voter ID laws continue to be passed (and sometimes overturned in court) because this issue is a GOP obsession.
Trump does a lot of things that are terrible in a characteristically Trumpian way -- but in this he's just imitating mainstream Republicans. If you're an establishment Republican and you've participated in this crusade, or even just tolerated it, you have no right to complain when Trump brings up the subject now.
OOPS> Almost forgot to mention this 2004 book: