Combination Book Review - "Our Broken Elections" and "Rigged" - The Wall Street Journal


Traditionally, each month’s “Reference Materials” section includes, inter alia, book reviews from –

The New York Times
The Wall Street Journal
The Washington Post

The WSJ book review is posted in this section.

NB: It was a combination book review which also covered Molly Hemingway’s “Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections” (Regnery Publishing 10/12/2021 – 448 pages).

The New York Times did NOT publish a book review of “Our Broken Elections” (Encounter Books 11/2/2021).

However, an “advanced search” on for “Spakovsky” since the 2020 election (NB: It is usually hopeless to specify a search term of more than one word such as “Broken Elections” and it is also hopeless to specify a search term based on Hans von Spakovsky’s co-author, John Fund) unearthed an informative news article about Republican strategy re state-by-state voting legislation.

Accordingly, “G.O.P. and Allies Draft ‘Best Practices’ for Restricting Voting” dated 3/23/2021 (updated 4/7/2021) is also posted in this section.

The Washington Post also did NOT publish a book review of “Our Broken Elections.”

However, an “advanced search” on for “Spakovsky” since the 2020 election unearthed an informative news article about Republican strategy re state-by-state voting legislation.

It is also posted in this section despite the false claim in the article’s title that there was no “systematic voter fraud” in the 2020 election.


[Sec. 3 of this website lists topic proposals. It also contains “expired” topic proposals that contain valuable info worth preserving.]
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Combination Book Review - "Our Broken Elections" and "Rigged" - The Wall Street Journal

Post by johnkarls »

. ... 1637019090

Combined Book Review: ‘Rigged’ and ‘Our Broken Elections’
Voting fraud happens, but is it ‘massive’? Mollie Hemingway and others weigh in with new books.

Combined Book Review by Kyle Peterson - a member of the Journal’s editorial board
Nov. 15, 2021

Seventy-five percent of Republican voters say the 2020 election was “rigged,” per a recent poll, with “real cases of fraud that changed the results.” Are they right? From the title of Mollie Hemingway’s book, “Rigged,” you’d think it would be easier to figure out. The prologue is titled “You’re Not Wrong.” She quotes President Trump saying he was “cheated” and that “it hurts to lose less than to win and have it taken away.”

Yet she criticizes “hyping” of “dramatic claims” about Dominion voting machines, plus Rudy Giuliani’s “disastrous” legal turn. Other flapdoodle theories make no appearance. When Mrs. Hemingway says “rigged,” she means everything from jockeying to kick the Green Party off Wisconsin’s ballot, to Fox News’s early call of Arizona, to Twitter’s blackout of the Hunter Biden story in the New York Post.

Some of this has merit, but when Mr. Trump says “rigged” he means “massive election fraud.” Here the book is less helpful. There was much to object to in 2020, but she overstates the case. Yes, Democratic lawsuits pushed to loosen rules, sometimes successfully. Mail votes rose from 25% in 2016 to 43%. That’s a concerning trend, but even before the pandemic most states let anyone vote absentee at will, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. Covid was always going to create a deluge.

Take Georgia, which Mr. Trump lost by 11,779. The state had earlier entered a settlement that Mrs. Hemingway says “made it more difficult to reject mail-in ballots,” since signatures could be ruled suspicious only by a majority of three clerks. “Critics would later note,” she adds, that Georgia’s overall rejection rate fell from 6.4% in 2016 to 0.4%. Exact figures vary by source, but that downward trend was everywhere, including states Mr. Trump won. Dropboxes cut tardy votes. There was a focus on fixing errors, a process Georgia set up in 2019. Nationwide, the rejection rate was 0.8%.

Why did Georgia’s leaders—Republicans—agree to this settlement? Because it ended a lawsuit that sought to block signature matching entirely. Regarding Georgia’s approach to Covid, Mrs. Hemingway paraphrases the secretary of state’s top lawyer at a December hearing, saying officials worried that a “failure to be generous” would “encourage judges to intervene more.” Not mentioned: He said the state agreed to that three-clerk rule because “in talking to counties, that was basically the process they had in place.” The latest data on signatures, he added, showed 2,975 rejected. Another 2,777 were rejected but fixed, for a total of 0.43%, “probably a little high.” (In 2018, it was 0.16%.) An audit of 15,118 random signatures in Cobb County found two goofs. Maybe other counties were worse, but where’s a hard allegation?

Mrs. Hemingway raises the question of Georgia voters who moved between counties. Temporary movers, such as students and military, are no problem. But permanent movers are supposed to re-register within 30 days. She cites an analyst who says he found more than 10,000 Georgians who changed addresses at least a month before the election, voted in their old counties, and only later re-registered. Fraud?

It’s tricky. People might temporarily move in with family amid Covid, only to stay. They might buy a house but spend weeks in transition. An address change isn’t legally enough to challenge a voter’s eligibility. WSB-TV spoke to a man who moved “a few blocks” over a county line. He “figured it was a statewide election,” so “it didn’t even occur to me that I could be doing anything wrong.” That’s a problem, not a “rigged” vote. Also, the state said 86% of these people voted in person. Mr. Trump won 55% of Georgia’s in-person ballots, so maybe the oversights helped him.

Voting is a messy human endeavor: 2020 involved 158 million ballots in 10,000 jurisdictions. Irregularities are inescapable, and they aren’t all easily remedied, especially if voters cast ballots in good faith under rules that a losing campaign challenges after the fact, as in Wisconsin. Even so, there’s room for improvement, and John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky offer ideas, with a longer view, in “Our Broken Elections.”

Since absentee ballots add slack, voter error and space for mischief, the authors suggest reserving them for people who are genuinely disabled or out of town. Bar codes on the envelopes would let votes “be tracked through the mail.” Letting paid partisans knock on doors to collect mail votes is “reckless.” Legislatures could pass bills to ensure they have standing to sue if officials “attempt to make unauthorized changes in state election laws.”

Fraud happens, as Messrs. Fund and von Spakovsky remind us, and in close races it matters. A 2018 election for Congress in North Carolina was redone after an operative harvested mail votes, some unsealed. A city race in New Jersey was tossed in 2020 after hundreds of dubious absentee ballots were put in a mailbox one town over. Would that have been caught if the fraud had been carried out more carefully? Election rules should make even the attempt difficult. (Incidentally, under Georgia’s 2021 law requiring an ID number on mail votes, that shenanigan would be hard to duplicate.)

In any case, the burden of proof is on the challenger, and Mr. Trump hasn’t met it. Instead he complains of a funny sort of fraud that affects always and only him, like a personal rain cloud. The Iowa Caucus was rigged, he said. So, too, the 2016 popular vote. Then 2020. What bad luck! Yet somehow the GOP picked up a dozen House seats last year, swept Virginia this month, and won a Pennsylvania Supreme Court seat. The margins don’t help his story: Mr. Trump lost by thousands of votes in each of three states. He rails about 80,555 ballots in Pennsylvania. President Biden fell only 74,483 short in North Carolina.

Consider it a warning. In a closer election, like the one in 2000, late ballots or poor penmanship could decide the White House. That’s reason enough not to repeat the 2020 bedlam.

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