It’s Not Who Votes, It’s Who Counts Them

A conservative friend who dislikes Trump asked about his 2am speech branding the election as a fraud. Here’s my reply:

I guess my immediate response to any criticisms of Trump’s performance last night is to tease out some of the underlying assumptions. There are three basic possible premises.

1/ The Democrats did not cheat.

2/ The Democrats did cheat.

3/ We can’t know for sure, but the Democrats may have cheated.

In regard to #1, if this is true then Trump’s claims about stealing an election are despicable. Thus far I haven’t been overwhelmed with any evidence on this front. But it may come.

Re #2. On this premise I don’t think there was anything at all wrong with Trump’s 2am performance. I would have done the same.

Re #3. I assume most people fall here. We don’t know. We do know that Wisconsin now has, what, an 86 per cent turnout. That is nearing NZ levels, the highest in the world for any non-compulsory voting jurisdiction.

And we know that all three Midwest Democrat-run states stopped their counting at the same time. I’ve not heard of stopping the counting in Canada and Britain. And the fact they all stopped at the same time – not even on the hour – is very odd, very odd indeed. The odds of it not being co-ordinated are rather small. Of course, there are non-cheating explanations for co-ordinating a ‘stop counting’ decision across three states, it’s just that we’re not hearing what they might be.  If honest and above board, then it was dumb because it licensed people to think cheating was taking place.

It will also be a US first, I believe, to win the bellwether States of Ohio and Florida and still lose an election.


And then there was the pre-election behaviour of the press (not reporting very plausible and damning stuff about Hunter and “the Big Guy”). We already knew FBI agents altered documents to further the FISA scam and promote the Russiagate hoax.

At any rate, on #3, people can reasonably disagree about what to do. Perhaps, when one suspects cheating but can’t prove it, the thing to do is to stand up at the press conference and downplay things. Here it comes down to one’s visceral attitudes. For me, after a lifetime of competitive sports, I like the fighter. Were I Trump, I’d do what he did – indeed, I can’t think of any other response that gives the Republican candidate any chance at all of winning in the end. (I predict bogus polls being released soon, all claiming the majority of Americans want Trump to concede. These will come from the same pollsters who gave us the election predictions, but which the media will still treat as gospel.) If when dealing with cheaters you adopt a sort of genteel, John McCain-like attitude that values good manners and the regular norms over trying to win, then you lose. 

So I thought Trump pretty much hit the right note at his 2am press conference.

Nice people who don’t fight back lose. You can be nice, but when the other guy isn’t you have to reciprocate or you’re toast. I think that is basically why Trump got elected, why he has the loyalty (if not the admiration) of over 90 per cent of Republican voters, and also why some of those who lean conservative despise him. It’s attitudinal. That said, if you dislike how the culture wars are going, believe the other side fights to win but won’t yourself fight back, then you can’t really don’t deserve to win.

James Allan, Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland, is the author of Democracy in Decline 

24 thoughts on “It’s Not Who Votes, It’s Who Counts Them

  • ianl says:

    I do find it hard to believe that the sudden appearance of a block of almost 140,000 postal votes at the 11th hour was complemented by *all* of these votes going to the one candidate. Not even one vote leaked to some other candidate.

    But what can be done about that ? Commentators seem to insist that the self-defined elite think most people are just stupid. They don’t think that, they simply don’t care because most people are just powerless. So, my repeated question on what sensible, practical responses we may have is answered with the obvious: none that will change anything, only what one may do to protect one’s family and oneself.

  • rod.stuart says:

    What is the probability that 200,000 votes show up and every single one of them is for Sleepy Joe? Not a single solitary one for Trump or Jo Jorgenson, or evan in independent?
    I would say about one in a gadzillion.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    We already know that politicians and their machines cheat and lie. We already know the Democrats have done this countless times during the past five years. Why would we think that party apparatchiks in swing states would now suddenly baulk at doing anything underhand?
    I have no doubt that cheating occurred, probably on a large scale. Equally I have no doubt that they will get away with it.
    That’s not to say Trump shouldn’t fight back. If he loses the Republican Party will drop him like a hot brick and will gracefully give the losers consent that you can guarantee the Democrats would not have. I can’t see Trump running again but who knows. Hopefully Mike Pence will immediately announce his candidacy for 2024. He and Trump could team up to protect Trump’s legacy, which is not just impressive but also imperative.

  • Necessityofchoice says:

    Watch this movie length documentary about the steps taken to mount what was effectively a coup against Trump following his victory in 2016.
    You will then have no doubt about the ability of the swamp to suck down anyone, even a duly elected President. Last time Trump had the element of surprise, this time they were ready, and in the areas where they have had control, they have used it.
    God help us all.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    “Sorry the file you have requested does not exist”

    Google censorship at work.

  • deric davidson says:

    The left’s mantra has always been ‘whatever it takes’.
    It is hardly surprising that cheating and fraud are part of the modus operandi of an organization that
    wholeheartedly approves of killing, in the most brutal manner, innocent babies in the womb. They have no moral compass on conscience. The end justifies the means. And with backing from every known entity on earth (including the Vatican) it works. Trump and his supporters are literally fighting the world (the marxist globalists).

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    Georgia’s final count is just coming in. It has been pro Trump so far in the counting but at the metaphorical ten minutes to midnight, gee whiz, it’s turning to Biden. Amazing.

    Last night’s big mail Biden only vote of co-ordinated 4am drop-ins were startling, to say the least. Mail in systems are so open to illrgal ballot paper collection and vote buying.

    Miranda Divine just on now at PM Live putting the case that a Republican Senate will at least be able to halt the worst of Democrat excess. And how Trump should get busy if on hisway out by firing and pardoning to the sound of Democrat shrieks. The thing to note is that due to the peculiarities of 50 State-run systems, American election have always contentious and contestable.

    Sad and difficult times. We spent yesterday at CPAC, the conference of the Conservative Political Activist Coalition, a most necessary information and activity ginger group for a day in which we enjoyed many prominant media people presenting. Hope to see some Quadrant people from Victoria there next year in a Covid free context. Meantime, we need to stop the propaganda going on in our schools. And get over the politicisation of Covid and ditch the Paris Agreement for the sake of our energy capacity. The planet will survive. Empirical research rather than modelling definitely shows the planet has never been endangered as the hysterics would have us believe.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    Trump’s success – expanding the Republican base to blacks and Hispanics. Also bringing attention to cancel culture.

  • pgang says:

    And here’s the really salient point to my mind. Without the absentee ballots Trump would have won by a landslide. The Democrats knew this months ago. PA and GA will just keep counting until Biden gets over the line. Simples.

  • pgang says:

    It’s possible now that the GOP could win both houses but not the presidency. Has that ever happened before?
    What a fiasco.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    I suspect that
    [1] if it is proved to the satisfaction of the Court that an election process was corrupt
    [2] and the corrupt ballots cannot be identified and excluded
    [3] the Court will order a new election in that State
    As happened in Western Australia in 2013.

  • pbw says:

    The horrifying thing is that Trump’s contention is plausible. Equally horrifying is that the “liberal” caucus on the Supreme Court votes reliably as a bloc, and that appointments to that court are now universally seen as viciously fought political appointments, and that major sources of information have been censoring the President of the USA, and that stories of the obvious importance of Hunter Biden’s laptop can be almost universally suppressed, and that the institutions of government conspired to bring down a President with the full support of most of the media, and… and… and…

    And that’s just the politics. Let’s not start on the culture war.

    If the opinion polls are to be believed on this matter (ha!) a considerable majority of US citizens have lost faith in the integrity of the electoral process. The body politic in the US is deeply and seemingly irreconcilably fractured, and confidence in the institutions of civil society is at a low. This is a strangely hopeful sign. It shows that half of the US electorate retains its grasp on basic realities. This same fracture is happening all over the West, but everywhere except in the United States, there is a large non-skeptical majority who still believe what they are told by the media, Brexit notwithstanding. It shows the importance of the USA to the very idea of democratic governance.

    This disaster cannot be fixed with a “win” by either side. For a democratic polity to flourish, the common ground of belief has to be considerably broader than the grounds of disagreement; it’s what you might call “common sense.” Given that the grounds of common belief have been under widespread and deliberate attack for decades, the prospects are not hopeful.

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    Here we avoid their problems by having (i) compulsory voting and (ii) our elections run by an independent agency, the Australian Electoral Commission.

    Permitting each state to enact its own voting laws/regulations is asking for trouble. It encourages mischief-making at several levels, such as in late “mail-in” voting, etc.

    Is it just coincidental that the alleged “irregularities” are mainly/all in Democrat states where the results are very close, or are they deliberately “gaming the system”, as some say Joe Kennedy did a while back?

    If the latter, Sleepy Joe should get an Oscar, which would be presented by Lady Gaga. He sure put on a class act as dear grandpa who just wants to heal the “Soul of the Nation”.

    Toss MSM complicity into the pot and you have a nasty witch’s brew. So much for “free and fair” elections. Not a good look for democracy. Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, etc. will be enjoying the show.

    US blog comments yesterday:

    RalphZero: They’re cheating by having access to a list of registered voters who have not voted and fabricating fake mail-in ballots for them at the last second. There’s no reason for all the last-second mail-in ballots that are 20-1 in favor of Biden. Whatever is happening is beneficial to them. They will keep denying the history of democrat counting deceased votes and multiple votes of past elections.

    JohnM55: When I went to bed on election night @ 3 AM. Trump had a 10% lead in both MI and WI, with 65-70% of the vote counted. When I woke up at 6:30, they were tied, and about 90% of the vote was counted. That means that the vote count was 3:1 in Biden’s favor in the wee hours. Frankly, I don’t trust these results. Don’t voting machines automatically tally the vote? So why would they be counting absentee ballots at 3 AM?

  • pgang says:

    If you haven’t seen the video of the woman at the TCF centre in Detroit, do yourself a favour. The chanting outside the building, ‘Stop the count’, is surreal. This is going to end very badly.

  • pgang says:

    Alice, the vote count was 100% in Biden’t favour post 3am. The Biden count simply spiked during the down time so that it was even with Trump.
    I was never a fan of compulsory voting but I am now. This is one of the most wretched things I think I’ve witnessed in western politics. My guess is that the Democrats thought they would be a lot closer than they were and that they were expecting nobody would notice their catch-up tricks. During the count, as they fell further behind, panic set in.

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    Nevada gets – as Alice said – “curioser and curioser” – by the hour.

    According to FOX , the Trump campaign is alleging there are “”tens of thousands” of people who voted in Nevada who are no longer state residents. It is not seeking to stop the vote but rather ensure that every “legal“ vote is counted and that no “illegal” votes are counted.

    “A source familiar with the lawsuit told Fox News that campaign officials have proof that people who have died have been found to have voted.”

    Nevada election officials have not provided answers as to why they haven’t had a “check” on mail-in ballots, which the campaign alleges were sent to apartments where individuals no longer lived but were filled out and cast.

    There also has been “no observation for signature matches whatsoever” and “generally no observers watching the counting — specifically in Clark County.”

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    “A source familiar with the lawsuit told Fox News that campaign officials have proof that people who have died have been found to have voted.”

    If so, perhaps the Democrats were inspired by Nikolai Gogol’s novel, Dead Souls. Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov, also tries to take the easy path to success. When serfs die, they are considered “dead souls”, yet still count among the living on the census. Chichikov tries to help the landowners by purchasing them.

  • Alistair says:

    Let’s call this what it was – a political coup.
    There are two things to learn from this election. Firstly, cheating works. Secondly, the media are OK with that if you are a Democrat. I suggest that the Democrats now have four years to cement voting irregularity into electoral “law”. No problems there. I also suggest that after that, with Democrats almost guaranteed the Presidency, in the future Presidential races the main fight will be deciding the Democrat nomination. It will be a battle of the back room oligarchs for control.

  • Peter Marriott says:

    In my view there can be no possible reason for postal votes in a non-compulsory voting system other than to enable cheating. The only reason we have them is because our system is compulsory, and even here our system must be open to plenty of cheating, because at least at the entrance to the polling station, it’s illegal to coach prospective voters…..how can that be controlled in a private address ? There was a time when one had to show some sort of proof of absence to get a postal ballot, but my neighbour gets one on the flimsiest of excuses, almost just by asking for it, and we now have 2 weeks of pre-poll time on top of it, so not being here on election day is hardly an excuse and the commission seems reluctant to send out fines anyway. In a non-compulsory system like the US the mere fact that some group or party actually wanted them in the first place should have raised all sorts of red flag signals and it seems incredible to me that it was allowed. Based on this reasoning I can only conclude that whoever wanted it in the first place….was looking for a way to cheat…and this definitely appears to be what has happened….big time.

  • mfberkhout says:

    I read some of the above comments with dismay. Let me posit this another way
    1. One party cheats
    2. Both parties cheat
    3. Neither party cheats.

    The Senate, Congress and Presidency have been won by both parties over the years.

    A polarised nation chose an inclusive leader.
    That’s a surprise?

  • Geoffrey Luck says:

    I note that many of these comments were made on or shortly after election night. They display a remarkable excess of infectious outrage over facts and common sense. Nether I, nor the other commentators know whether there was cheating and their observations certainly don’t support their contention. I watched the entire count until it stopped on SBS/ABC USA. The early Trump lead was as expected, and so was the turn of the tide as the postal ballots were counted. Is it forgotten that Trump railed against postal ballots – particularly the unsolicited ballots sent out – while the Democrats urged their registered voters to vote early by postal ballot. Undoubtedly, all other things being equal, Trump made a tactical error by urging Republican voters to hold off voting until election day. That neither explains nor excuses some aberrant numbers, but it was always going to be touch and go in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. If there is a problem, it’s that there’s no settled mechanism for checking the supposed frauds.

  • talldad says:

    Alice Thermopolis – 6th November 2020:

    Here we avoid their problems by having (i) compulsory voting and (ii) our elections run by an independent agency, the Australian Electoral Commission.

    Permitting each state to enact its own voting laws/regulations is asking for trouble. It encourages mischief-making at several levels, such as in late “mail-in” voting, etc.

    The US States all have Electoral Boards operating on an equivalent basis to the AEC.
    However, we also have
    a) utterly secret ballots, even for absentee voting (in the US these are called “the Australian system”)
    b) no unsolicited mailout of postal voting papers and strict accountability for ballot papers issued and returned
    c) a combined local/State/Federal Electoral Commission (which is still susceptible to bias by staff but with more rigorous controls limiting their scope for manipulation)
    d) ONLY paper ballots – no electronics
    e) a much stronger scrutineering atmosphere.

    We don’t have voting parties where people can discuss who they are voting for so that a collector (from a political party machine) can discern if they are holding “good” or “bad” votes, and who can thus influence whether they get binned or held back.

  • John Nation says:

    All votes did not go to one candidate. They went around 80:20 in the more democrat leaning places. In DC, all votes, by whatever method, were even more slanted than this, but that it no surprise. Republicans probably don’t bother in DC. They’re like Liberal voters in Canberra (with the exception of the Senate where it is a vital to vote or face the prospect of a Green picking up the second seat).

    The fact that all conservatives should note is that there were clearly people who voted Republican in Congressional ballots while giving their Presidential pick to Biden. When Trump is dead and buried (politically I mean) the Republicans can get back to building a genuine alternative to the Dems who are going towards the looney left now but may move back to the centre under a Biden presidency.

    In 1960 there were serious reports of Dem cheating by the Kennedy machine but Nixon chose to rise above this; no doubt he had a second run in mind, but he also would have realised that it would be difficult to get enough evidence to change the outcome (even in what was a knife edge result). This experience may have contributed to his desire to get inside Dem HQ to see what dirty tricks were being hatched.

    A Democrat President with a Republican controlled Senate is probably no bad result. Obama lacked the political skills to cut through enough in such a circumstance but Biden may be different. Let’s wait and see.

  • whitelaughter says:

    Geoffrey Luck: that pig doesn’t fly. If the reason was a Democrat preference for postal votes, then the safe Democrat states would have had the most postal votes and the biggest swings.

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