If the people who stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC on Wednesday accomplished one thing, it’s that they effectively killed any legitimate inquiry into voter fraud.
Spurred by concerns over in-person voting during the pandemic, Democrats successfully changed local and state voting rules at the last minute and pivoted to allowing the bulk of voting to be done via mail. Any major change to the voting system in such a short period of time deserves a full and comprehensive audit, even if the outcome does not change upon its completion. However, because some pro-Trump demonstrators resorted to violence in order to have their concerns heard, politicians will refuse to ever again discuss any voting irregularities. Big Tech companies will likely crack down on anyone who dares talk about it on social media. The opportunity for fixing our system is practically gone.
Sen. Josh Hawley, who took the pretty reasonable position of challenging Pennsylvania’s new law allowing universal mail-in ballots, is already being accused of having responsibility for the murder of a Capitol police officer who died after sustaining injuries in the riot. Other Republican senators quickly pulled their challenges to the election results in the wake of the Capitol storming as well.
Pennsylvania in particular had several late changes to its system that raised eyebrows. Mail-in ballots that did not have matching signatures were still ordered to be counted by the state’s Supreme Court. Further, Pennsylvania issued last-minute guidance allowing county officials and political parties to reach out to voters whose mail-in ballots were rejected and offer them the opportunity to ‘cure’ them. This policy is arguably against an earlier Supreme Court ruling and was, according to FactCheck.org, applied inconsistently across the state. The result? As mail-in voting increased, the scrutiny of ballots by election officials decreased. That is a recipe for disaster, considering even left-leaning sources have previously found that voting by mail is more susceptible to fraud.
Even more generally, when we look back at this election, we should be allowed to question why so many technically legal rule changes were made unilaterally by state and country executives across the country rather than by elected legislators.
I understand that the riot on Wednesday was probably about more than just voter fraud. Americans have been locked up in their homes for months, becoming increasingly isolated and losing their sources of income. They have received little aid for their troubles. They watched all summer long as violent protests from the left were celebrated and rewarded by a media and political class that mocks them and their very real concerns. This was a powder keg waiting to ignite.
But violence is inexcusable and, as is the case here, almost always backfires. The rioters have created a near untenable situation for their allies in power. Cries of ‘insurrection’ and ‘coup’ and threats of censure or removal will now be lobbed at anyone who wishes to make the voting system more fair.
For the tens of millions of Americans who believe the election was stolen, that is a real shame.