‘Rigged’ charge cre­ates bind for elec­tion chiefs

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Noah Bier­man and Michael A. Me­moli

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Don­ald Trump am­pli­fied his un­sub­stan­ti­ated ac­cu­sa­tion Mon­day that the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion will be rigged, cre­at­ing an­other gut-check mo­ment for fel­low Repub­li­cans, par­tic­u­larly those whose job it is to en­sure a free and fair elec­tion.

The al­le­ga­tion, which Trump has been mak­ing for months, un­der­cuts the core prom­ise of democ­racy and sows seeds of doubt among his sup­port­ers that Hil­lary Clin­ton, if vic­to­ri­ous, would be a le­git­i­mate pres­i­dent.

It’s an­other un­prece­dented claim in mod­ern cam­paign his­tory that includes a tra­di­tion of bi­par­ti­san sup­port for the in­tegrity of pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in the in­ter­est of the peace­ful tran­si­tion of power, even from those who lost highly con­tested bat­tles such as former Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore.

“Of course there is large scale voter fraud hap­pen­ing on and be­fore elec­tion day,” Trump tweeted Mon­day. “Why do Re­pub­li­can lead­ers deny what is go­ing on? So naive!”

For many in Trump’s party, it was an­other bridge too far. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump’s run­ning mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, had al­ready dis­tanced them­selves from the claim. But state elec­tion of­fi­cials were un­der more pres­sure, with their com­pe­tence as pub­lic ser­vants be­ing called into ques­tion.

They fought back by de­scrib­ing how elec­tions work and not­ing that Trump cited no ev­i­dence in mak­ing his as­ser­tion.

“I can say on Twit­ter I’m a su­per­model, but that doesn’t make it so,” said Lynn Bar­tels, spokes­woman for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Wil­liams, dis­put­ing Trump’s claims.

County clerks in her state re­leased an open let­ter Mon­day, out­lin­ing the process’ se­cu­rity and trans­parency, adding that “our sys­tem is the best in the world and will achieve mean­ing­ful Dur­ing a rally Mon­day in Green Bay, Wis., Don­ald Trump al­leged fraud in the vot­ing process. and cred­i­ble out­comes.”

Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions are con­ducted on a state and lo­cal ba­sis, not na­tion­ally, with more than 8,000 ju­ris­dic­tions ad­min­is­ter­ing elec­tions. And in most of the states seen to vary­ing de­grees as pres­i­den­tial bat­tle­grounds, the chief elec­tions of­fi­cers are Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing in Ari­zona, Colorado, Ge­or­gia, Indiana, Iowa, Michi­gan, Ne­braska, Ne­vada, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah. They are elected by vot­ers. Most are sec­re­taries of state; Utah’s lieu­tenant gov­er­nor over­sees elec­tions there.

In Florida, the secretary of state is ap­pointed by the state’s Re­pub­li­can gov­er­nor, Rick Scott — a Trump sup­porter. In North Carolina, the state board of elec­tions has five mem­bers, ap­pointed by the gov­er­nor — a Re­pub­li­can. Its chair­man and three out of five mem­bers are Repub­li­cans.

“I’m a lit­tle frus­trated when can­di­dates try to dis­tract the pub­lic’s at­ten­tion by blam­ing the tech­ni­cal side of the elec­tions process rather than focus on the meat and pota­toes of what Amer­i­cans re­ally want to hear about,” said Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Re­pub­li­can.

Nearly half of Trump’s sup­port­ers lack con­fi­dence that bal­lots will be counted ac­cu­rately, a Politico/Morn­ing Con­sult poll re­leased Mon­day found.

“Per­cep­tion can be­come re­al­ity,” Pate said. “If you keep be­ing told over and over and over that some­thing is hacked even though it isn’t, some peo­ple might start be­liev­ing that. So yes, I do take it se­ri­ously.”

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Trump sup­porter, was equally in­censed, telling CNN that Trump’s talk was “ir­re­spon­si­ble.”

There are bat­tle­ground

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.