Eric Frazier

Is a rigged election coming? Republicans should prove it or pipe down

By Eric Frazier

Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a press conference at Trump National Doral July 27, 2016 in Miami, Fla.
Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a press conference at Trump National Doral July 27, 2016 in Miami, Fla. TNS

When the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals torpedoed North Carolina’s controversial voter ID law last month, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger issued a remarkably bitter statement.

They said Democrat-appointed judges were trying to “steal the election” for gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper and the hated Hillary Clinton.

When the same court on Thursday iced their request for a stay of its order blocking the ID law, Republican leaders shrieked some more about the impending election-theft.

The Republican-approved 2013 voting law was popular, state GOP chief Dallas Woodhouse said, “but Roy Cooper and North Carolina Democrats did everything they could to stop it.”

“Fair-minded voters,” he added, “should ask why.”

Well, maybe for the same reason the court cited in striking the restrictions down? Maybe, as the ruling said, those aggressive voting restrictions illegally targeted African American voters with “surgical precision”?

No, that can’t be it. Not the way state GOP leaders see it. They’re dropping the same stinky pre-election innuendoes Donald Trump is spreading nationally. Trump, of course, is happy to share. He has added his voice to the GOP chorus of concern about the 4th Circuit ruling’s effect on North Carolina. Apparently the door is now open for evil Democrats to surf a wave of illegitimate black votes to victory.

They’ll just repay the favor later with free government goodies, right? Isn’t that what passes for sophisticated analysis inside the Limbaugh-Breitbart-Fox News bubble?

If that passes the smell test for you, it’s just a short walk to Trump confidante Roger Stone’s neighborhood. He’s pushing talk of civil disorder, a “bloodbath,” even for blocking a President-elect Hillary Clinton’s inauguration ceremony, should the election prove “rigged” against the real estate mogul.

He told Breitbart he wants to see Trump keep pushing this kind of talk as we move toward the election.

Such careless chatter is fine for talk show hosts and marginal types like Stone. It’s not OK for political parties and presidential candidates. I can understand saying things to rev up your base, but this is ridiculous. Stone’s talking about dripping battery acid into the gears of representative democracy.

Considering what’s at stake here, wouldn’t it be nice to see proof of the alleged hijinks?

That’s hard to come by. Studies show voter impersonation – the offense that sparked our ID law – is virtually non-existent. The 4th Circuit judges said North Carolina failed to identify a single person who’d ever been charged with committing in-person voter fraud.

What proof of fraud have I seen? Well, Stone cited studies by Richard Charnin, a left-leaning scholar who pushes discredited theories in which unreliable exit polls accurately predict final vote tallies. The title page of his blog says it is devoted to election fraud analysis.

And oh, look, JFK conspiracy theories, too.

So, enough about him.

You want real election problems? How about the corrosive influence of big money in our politics? Or the fact that Princeton researchers have shown our iPhones are more secure than our voting machines. With Russian hackers circling, we must do better.

That’s a real election-integrity problem. Unlike the GOP complaints currently on the table, it won’t magically vanish if black people start voting Republican this November, or if Trump’s flaming cow-pie of a campaign suddenly rights itself. (Equally unlikely, I’d wager.)

Real problems are hard enough to fix. Enough already with the crazy conspiracies.

Eric: 704-358-5145; efrazier@charlotteobserver.com

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