It’s the lie that won’t die.
The news that lawsuits alleging massive fraud in the 2020 election have been filed in three Washington state counties — despite presenting zero evidence — is yet another sign that the base of the GOP is going to keep on digging down this rabbit hole until they come out the other side.
Or more likely bury the Republican Party around here.
Lawsuits were filed last week in Snohomish, Clark and Whatcom counties, alleging the civil rights of voters were violated due to huge fraud in Washington state’s 2020 election. I took a look at the lawsuit in Snohomish County, and remarkably it asserts, nearly 11 months later, that election administrators there took part in “flipping” 6,000 votes, adding some share of 400,000 votes statewide that weren’t actually cast, and expunging thousands more “in one or more statewide races.”
It gives no evidence for any of this, not even a hint. That’s because there is no evidence for it (and a lot of counter evidence against it, which I’ll get to in a moment).
But the plaintiffs, most of whom are Republicans and Donald Trump followers, have another agenda.
“The machines obviously are not working,” one plaintiff, a longtime donor to the GOP, told The (Everett) Herald, which first reported on the lawsuits.
“I just want to see a more robust and transparent system in place with our elections,” said another plaintiff, Art Coday of Woodinville — who also happens to be a four-time losing GOP candidate for various political offices.
Another plaintiff is a former treasurer of the Snohomish County Republican Central Committee. Another, from Bothell, has “I support Donald J. Trump for President of the USA” written across the top of her Facebook page.
You get the idea. What’s technically being litigated is an echo of the former president’s national delusions that he somehow won — in a blue state where Trump lost by 785,000 votes.
This lawsuit will likely be toast as soon as a judge lays eyes on it (a tipoff to that is that they have no lawyer). But what’s really happening is some Republicans are using easily refutable allegations to set the stage for questioning the validity of any future election they don’t win (last week, in the California governor recall election, they began claiming it was rigged before any votes had even been counted).
The idea that we had massive vote fraud go undetected here overlooks that the past election saw the biggest check on the machines done in this state in nearly 20 years.
We vote by paper ballot, and so if there’s a close race, or allegations of fraud, they can go back and check the paper ballots versus the machine counts to see if they match.
Hand recounters did this last winter with more than 100,000 ballots, cross-checking versus the machines. It was the largest hand recount done in Washington since 2004. In the 5th Legislative District of the Eastside suburbs alone, 97,471 ballots were hand-checked.
Guess how much the final margins were changed by this human versus machine showdown?
Two votes. The victory margin for state Sen. Mark Mullet in the 5th District increased from 57 to 58, and Trump picked up a single vote in one Snohomish County precinct. That’s it.
So the machines obviously did work — to more than 99.9% accuracy. More importantly, if somebody had “flipped” any votes electronically in the machines, let alone hundreds of thousands of them, some mismatch would have shown up in all these paper ballot checks.
None of this seems to matter to the rabbit-holers, such as those sleuthing GOP conspiracy theorists who convened a hearing in Snohomish County last month to demand an audit. Might as well pander to the base, right?
The problem, around here anyway, is that only 18% of Washington state voters now self-identify as Republicans. That’s the lowest share for the GOP in 40 years of polling on local voter sentiment. The state was 35% GOP in the 2000s, and 25% as recently as 2016, according to pollster Stuart Elway. Now it’s in danger of dropping toward single-digit, third-party territory.
What’s especially insane about pursuing this lie that won’t die is that this same Elway poll revealed that the Democrats’ brand is also on the wane. Washington state voters self-identifying as Democrats topped out at 46% in 2008, and was still at 41% in 2019. Now it has slipped to 36%.
The point is, people are not especially thrilled with the dominant party. And so there’s actually political opportunity out there right now for Republicans.
Obsessively pursuing a narcissistic delusion that also undermines democracy is one of the few things I can think of that might crater the party even more than it already is.