A few days ago, a I noticed this survey result from Gallup discussing Americans’ declining confidence in the electoral process. This is an important topic which I don’t think the “big blogs” have given serious treatment to (for obvious reasons), and I wanted to address this myself. I’ll begin with an excerpt from Gallup:
- 30% in U.S. say election process is working, down from 37% in January
- Republicans’ views have soured most — down from 46% to 30%
- Most Americans still say there is at least one good candidate running
PRINCETON, N.J. — Thirty percent of Americans say the presidential election process is working as it should, down from 37% in January. The decline is driven mainly by Republicans’ increasingly cynical views as the campaign season has progressed. The percentage of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who say the election process is working has fallen from 46% to 30% since January. Democrats’ and Democratic leaners’ views haven’t changed.
The latest update, based on interviewing conducted March 16-17, shows that Republicans and Democrats now have similarly low levels of belief that the election process is working properly, based on their views of the way the presidential campaign is being conducted. This situation differs from what Gallup found in January, when Republicans were much more positive. Since then, the GOP field has narrowed substantially from a large number of candidates to the three still in the race — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich. And the lion’s share of attention is going to the controversial Trump, the clear front-runner at this point. By contrast, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have remained the two main Democratic candidates all year.
Later in their article, Gallup tries to spin this decline in confidence in the electoral process as a result of Donald Trump being the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination. The implication Gallup makes is that Trump is just so terribly “controversial” that Republicans are losing faith in the electoral process.
I have a much different take. I think Republican cynicism in regards to the electoral process is based in stories like this:
“The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination. That’s the conflict here,” Curly Haugland, an unbound GOP delegate from North Dakota, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday. He even questioned why primaries and caucuses are held.
A Republican National Committee Standing Rules Committee member told the membership Friday that convention delegates are not bound to cast their votes at the convention according to primary vote results in the first round of voting.
Thousands of Puerto Rico inmates vote in Republican primary
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Thousands of inmates lined up in prisons across Puerto Rico on Friday to cast early ballots in the U.S. territory’s Republican primary, some saying they hoped the elections can help lift the island out of an economic crisis.
At least 6,500 of the island’s 11,500 prisoners are registered to vote, and government officials said this year’s turnout was strong. Even prisoners not registered are allowed to participate in the open primaries, which are held two days ahead of the vote for the general population. The island’s Republican primary is Sunday while Democrats vote in June.
Puerto Rico saw about 36,500 votes cast in total in the Republican primary, by the way.
On March 4, Caroline Fawkes, the supervisor of elections for the U.S. Virgin Islands ruled Yob, his wife Erica L. Yob, and Ethan Eilon and Lindsey Eilon ineligible to vote. All four of them were on the ballot to be delegates, but delegates must be registered Republican voters. Fawkes’ ruling compromised their eligibility to serve as delegates.
According to court documents, Yob was initially ruled ineligible to vote, according to Fawkes, after he tried to register to vote before he had lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the required 90 days. According to an email that Fawkes sent to state chairman for the Virgin Islands Republican Party, John Canegata, Yob is alleged to have purposely falsified information to gain access to the polls.
Still not enough for you? How about this:
Colorado will not vote for a Republican candidate for president at its 2016 caucus after party leaders approved a little-noticed shift that may diminish the state’s clout in the most open nomination contest in the modern era.
The GOP executive committee has voted to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll after the national party changed its rules to require a state’s delegates to support the candidate that wins the caucus vote.
And let’s not forget Arizona, which commenter CivilDiscourse has been very much on top of:
Hours after polls closed, hundreds of voters were still in line, and many were turned away. In Maricopa County, the most populous county in the state, the number of precincts were reduced from more than 200 in 2012 to just 60 on Tuesday.
I am sure, by now, that people get the picture. Confidence in the electoral process is not being undermined by “the wrong candidate” winning, confidence in the electoral process is being undermined by the Republicans acting like they are the enforcers of a third world banana Republic.
Allegations of election fraud in America are nothing new. In the past, though, it has been confined mostly to stuff like “found” ballot boxes tilting the election in one direction or another or dead people voting in some key district. One of the basic requirements of a representative democracy is that the electoral process be viewed as free and fair. Whatever issues there have been in the past, US elections have been regarded as free and fair.
Things have changed this season, though. The primary process has become increasingly dirty. We’re now being treated to Republican officials going on the air and saying things like “your vote doesn’t count” and threatening to “rules change” away election results they don’t like, something even the Democrats have never done. The level of fraud permeating this affair is something that I have never seen before in my lifetime, with the spirit of free and fair elections being increasingly undermined by the shenanigans in places like Puerto Rico.
What, exactly, is the elites’ endgame? Free elections are a critical component in acting as a “safety valve” to channel the anger of the people and allow them to put new people in charge when the current system fails. Without elections, the only option the people have is something like, at best, a “Velvet Revolution” or in a worst case scenario, something much uglier.