In a True Democracy, Voting is Always Messy.

Perhaps the greatest feature of democratic forms of government is that the People get to select their leaders. So, like all of you, we watched the November elections unfold with great interest. We recognize that a feature of the people getting to elect their leaders is that it can result in a messy, often confusing process. A national election is actually 50 state elections that are decided by the results of 3,141 individual county elections across the width and breadth of this enormous country. A country with more than 328 million people living in it, not all of which are eligible to cast a ballot because they are below legal age, or are felons, non-citizen, or because they simply haven’t registered to vote. Getting the ballots of over 150 million eligible voters counted reliably in a few days is a daunting task. There are bound to be problems doing that. Problems compounded by human and computer error and even criminal attempts to cast illegal ballots or manipulate the results.

This election seems to have all of that going on. As of this writing, Georgia and North Carolina are still undecided and tabulating ballots, trying to get their results in. Results in Pennsylvania are being called into question amid allegations of fraud in Philadelphia. If the race was not so close, this would not really be an issue, but in this close race, it obviously is an issue and a very serious one. That said, a messy, contentious election is a feature of our Republic, not a bug. We’d be more concerned about a flawless election where nothing went wrong.

A Brief Rundown of the Election Controversies, So Far.

Some of the confusion in this election has been caused by network news coverage. Once upon a time, the networks covered the actual results as they were reported by the states. Now they have armies of pollsters and modelers trying to “predict” the results of elections before they are complete. In many cases, the networks rejected the actual vote tallies they received in favor of a contrary prediction favored by models and pollsters. That seems wrong to us. It is the job of the media to report the facts and figures, not postulate.

Once again, the polls were dead wrong, so wrong they don’t even deserve to be called polls. After the 2016 polling disaster that projected Hillary Clinton would win by double digits, the media and their polling partners claimed to have learned their lesson and fixed their methods. Then went into 2020 predicting confidently that former Vice President Biden would win, again by double digits. It’s another spectacular failure by the people who said they learned from their previous spectacular failure. Being so wrong so often makes us wonder why the networks and campaigns continue to pay pollsters huge sums for such failures? Why don’t they just throw darts at a dartboard or flip a coin and save themselves the money and us the frustration and aggravation every four years?

It could be because campaigns use polls to raise money on the one hand and dishearten the opposition on the other. A favorable Rassmussen Poll commissioned by a campaign can help raise tens of millions of dollars. “Look! We are winning!” If the networks pick up and report on that poll it can serve to dishearten voters on the other side, “Candidate X has a 10-point lead against Y in the coming election.” There is a subtle psychological trick in this “Push Polling” done by campaigns: People are naturally more inclined to back a winner if they can. And behind polling, there is a claim of scientific certainty. We are told that polls are done “scientifically” with huge computers processing and predicting results using the most impossibly complex algorithms ever devised by humankind. So who in their right mind wants to be against “the science” and support the guy who is behind?

We think the networks and pollsters should get out of the business of trying to predict elections for us and return to reporting the election results to us.

In Michigan, poll watchers were allegedly ejected from polling locations, ballot postmarks were backdated, unknown vehicles were transferring ballots, and in one county the hand tabulation of ballots was way off from the computer tabulation which converted 33 percent of the Trump ballots as Biden votes. This was explained first as a glitch and then blamed on human error.

In Pennsylvania, the claims center mostly around Philadelphia. Accusations include observers being denied access to the counting rooms in defiance to the orders of a federal judge, city elections officials privately coordinating with the Biden campaign feeding them vote counts and spreads, 12,000 deceased people listed as active voters, Biden getting over 57 percent of Absentee ballots voted for him when the expert pollsters predicted his lead would be in the single digits. The Supreme Court has ordered Philadelphia to separate certain ballots pending further investigation.