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Culture War Roundup for the week of February 14, 2024

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True The Vote, the group behind the wildly popular "2000 Mules" film that purported to document extensive election fraud in Georgia, has admitted to a judge that it doesn't have evidence to back its claims.

Y'all know I love my hobby horse, even if it's beaten into an absolute paste, and I admit at having ongoing puzzlement as to why 2020 stolen election claims retain so much cachet among republican voters and officials. TTV has a pattern of making explosive allegations of election fraud only to then do whatever it takes to resist providing supporting evidence. TTV has lied about working with the FBI and also refused to hand over the evidence they claimed to have to Arizona authorities. In Georgia, TTV went as far as filing formal complaints with the state, only to then try to withdraw their complaints when the state asked for evidence. The founder of TTV was also briefly jailed for contempt in 2022 because of her refusal to hand over information in a defamation lawsuit where TTV claimed an election software provider was using unsecured servers in China. Edit: @Walterodim looked into this below and I agree the circumstances are too bizarre to draw any conclusions about the founder's intentions.

I have a theory I'm eager to have challenged, and it's a theory I believe precisely explains TTV's behavior: TTV is lying. My operating assumption is that if someone uncovers extensive evidence of election fraud, they would do whatever they can to assist law enforcement and other interested parties in fixing this fraud. TTV does not do this, and the reason they engage in obstinate behavior when asked to provide evidence is because they're lying about having found evidence of election fraud. It's true that they file formal complaints with authorities, but their goal is to add a patina of legitimacy to their overall allegations. TTV's overriding motivation is grifting: there is significant demand within the conservative media ecosystem for stolen election affirmations, and anyone who supplies it stands to profit both financially as well as politically. We don't have direct financial statements but we can glean the potential profitability from how 2000 Mules initially cost $29.99 to watch online, and the millions in fundraising directed towards TTV (including a donor who sued to get his $2.5 million back). There's also a political gain because Trump remains the de facto leader of the conservative movement, and affirming his 2020 stolen election claims is a practical requirement for remaining within the sphere.

I know this topic instigates a lot of ire and downvotes, but I would be very interested to hear substantive reasons for why my theory is faulty or unreasonable! I believe I transparently outlined my premises and the connective logic in the above paragraph, so the best way to challenge my conclusion could be either to dispute a premise, or to rebut any logical deduction I relied on. You could also do this by pointing out anything that is inconsistent with my theory. So for example if we were talking about how "John murdered Jane", something inconsistent with that claim could be "John was giving a speech at the time of Jane's murder". I would also request that you first check if any of your rebuttals are an example of 'belief in belief' or otherwise replaying the 'dragon in my garage' unfalsifiability cocoon. The best way to guard against this trap would be to explain why your preferred explanation fits the facts better than mine, and also to proactively provide a threshold for when you'd agree that TTV is indeed just lying.

I'm excited for the responses!

Edit: I forgot I should've mentioned this, but it would be really helpful if responses avoided motte-and-bailey diversions. This post is about TTV and their efforts specifically, and though I believe stolen election claims are very poor quality in general, I'm not making the argument that "TTV is lying, ergo other stolen election claims are also bullshit". I think there are some related questions worth contemplating (namely why TTV got so much attention and credulity from broader conservative movement if TTV were indeed lying) but changing the subject isn't responsive to a topic about TTV. If anyone insists on wanting to talk about something else, it would be helpful if there's an acknowledgement about TTV's claims specifically. For example, it can take the format of "Yes, it does appear that TTV is indeed lying but..."

As I've tried to explain in some of your earlier 2020 election threads I feel like you are either misrepresenting or fundamentally misunderstanding the nature opposition's objections.

Elections are by their nature a contested environment not just between the individual candidates, but as Tom Scott touches upon in this video on electronic voting, between the candidates, their respective voters, and those administering the election. You seem to be approaching this issue as though it were a criminal trial where the election must be presumed legitimate unless proved otherwise in a court of law, but that's not how this works. You need to understand that the purpose of an election isnot to produce a "true" or "accurate" result. It is to produce a clear result that the candidates (and thier voters) can accept as legitimate, including the ones who lost. This is why we use paper ballots with documented chains of custody, this is why we have laws requiring that the counting be witnessed by representative of each candidate/party. Defendants may be constitutionally entitled to a presumption of innocence, but there's nothing in the constitution about presuming that election officials are impartial or even competent for that matter. As such I would suggest that in the event that the above safeguards are broken/removed or other irregularities appear (and I don't think you can deny that there were irregularities) it is only fair, dare I say it rational, to ask "what gives?". Likewise the more stridently partisans of the winning candidate insist that "there's nothing to see here" while simultaneously denying access to recourse, the more reasonable it becomes for the losing candidates and their voters to suspect foul play.

The simple thing that after 4 years of this conversation you still don't seem to grasp is that you aren't going to convince anyone the election was legitimate by arguing the niggling technical details of individual cases and motions. You need to actually address the elephant in the room.

Elections are by their nature a contested environment not just between the individual candidates, but as Tom Scott touches upon in this video on electronic voting, between the candidates, their respective voters, and those administering the election. You seem to be approaching this issue as though it were a criminal trial where the election must be presumed legitimate unless proved otherwise in a court of law, but that's not how this works. You need to understand that the purpose of an election is not to produce a "true" or "accurate" result. It is to produce a clear result that the candidates (and their voters) can accept as legitimate, including the ones who lost. [some spelling corrections]

So one side gets a Heckler's Veto until they are convinced of the legitimacy of the election? If they're upset enough, then the government needs to alter procedures until they are satisfied? No evidence is required, merely a sense of disquiet among some portion of voters? What procedural changes would produce a "legitimate" election for those people?

Basically yes.

If you want a peaceful transition of power, you need to be able to convince the losers that they lost fairly and that they have more to gain by continuing to work within the system than they have to lose by checking out of it or blowing it up.

As I've touched upon before I think liberals tend treat the relative peace and prosperity of societies such as the US and EU as though it were a physical law (like gravity), rather than something that has to be actively cultivated and maintained, and this sort of attitude strikes me as a manifestation of this tendency.

If you want a peaceful transition of power, you need to be able to convince the losers that they lost fairly and that they have more to gain by continuing to work within the system than they have to lose by checking out of it or blowing it up.

Is there a responsibility, in your view, for the losers to examine if their real objection might not be principled, but literally over just losing?

No because that's not how Democracy works.

You want Democracy? You need buy-in from the démos.

That means you don't really even want elections, right? You just want negotiations over policy. Because if the losers, as I suspect, are a bit more motivated by losing than they claim to be, then no amount of proof would work because they don't care about proof in the first place.

That means you don't really even want elections, right? You just want negotiations over policy.

Perhaps this is the Leviathan-shaped hole in the discourse rearing it's ugly head again, but "negotiations over policy" (or rather who gets to set that policy) is exactly what an election is, is it not?

Otherwise, I refer you to @DuplexFields' response above.

Perhaps this is the Leviathan-shaped hole in the discourse rearing it's ugly head again, but "negotiations over policy" (or rather who gets to set that policy) is exactly what an election is, is it not?

No, my point is that you and anyone else who takes this viewpoint is essentially claiming that you don't care about proof over whether the election was stolen in the first place. You just want a guarantee that your policies are enacted.

Suppose the Democrats were to offer a guarantee that they'd quash any attempt at enacting laws which would shift the government's stance to be more socially progressive in exchange for Republicans (including the MAGA ones) never bringing up the 2020 election again, and that this would hold for the next 10 years. God himself comes down and says they're not lying about what they'll do. In this scenario, I would expect people complaining about the election losers to largely come down against this deal on principle. Instead, I suspect the losers would actually, seriously debate if they should accept.

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Traditionally, even the losers in the US have been quite principled and put country over party, and their own specific interests.

Even Nixon stepped down.

You’re trying to justify a race to the bottom instead of calling out unjustified behavior.

No non-authoritarian system of government is going to do well with unprincipled, unreasonable behavior at scale.

You’re trying to justify a race to the bottom instead of calling out unjustified behavior.

No, those objecting to the election shenanigans are trying to call out bad behavior. Those excusing them on the grounds that it's bad to question elections are attempting to elevate the appearance of legitimacy over actual legitimacy.

You’re doing the motte n bailey between “were things perfect” and “was the election rigged/stolen.”

Instances of bad behavior can be acknowledged and we are still nowhere near what was claimed by Trump or TTV.

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I think you two might be talking past each other. Whether or not the losers should have good objections is a normative statement. Whether or not their objections are a problem is a descriptive statement. If the losers refuse to accept the result of an election no matter how fair and transparent it is, you don't have a functioning democracy.

In other words, no matter how fair an election might be that both sides had previously agreed to, the loser should be catered to with negotiations and compromises simply because they refuse to accept the outcome.

I reject that idea entirely. If Trump supporters and other election truthers need to have refuges from the rest of the American nation, I'm willing to accommodate that, but I'm not going to accept their claim that they just have a principled concern about election security.

What does it mean for an election to be "fair" or "legitimate" if it doesn't mean having buy-in from both sides?

Consider an unopened box. You and I agree that whatever is inside, we will share equally between ourselves. We open it, and it happens to be your favorite candy bar. I go to split it equally, but you grab one side of it and insist that actually, you want the whole thing and I should re-negotiate over it.

Would you say you are acting in bad faith?

I'm not giving a "should". Maybe Hlynka is, but there's certainly multiple options how you deal with people not recognizing the legitimacy of a government. Simply ignoring them is the default, and works just fine if there aren't too many of them or they aren't particularly interested in taking action. On the other extreme is civil war. I think the US is leaning a lot closer to the former than the latter.

I recognize you didn't give a "should", but Hlynka very much would agree with the absurd position I detailed in my previous comment. That's his position, unless he draws some line based on how many people actually disagree.

As much as there’s responsibility for the winners to examine if their belief in the legitimacy of their win might not be principled, by verifying the methods with the same scrutiny as if they’d lost.

I agree. But if you want to go down the route of saying the losers are refusing to be rational because that would cost them energy and momentum vs. the winners who don't, then just say that.

As I've touched upon before I think liberals tend treat the relative peace and prosperity of societies such as the US and EU as though it were a physical law (like gravity), rather than something that has to be actively cultivated and maintained

But that is precisely why losers should be required to provide proofs when they contest an election! Otherwise no peace is possible because the losers will always contest the results because it will always be in their best interest.

Again, "You seem to be approaching this issue as though it were a criminal trial where the election must be presumed legitimate unless proved otherwise in a court of law, but that's not how this works."

My core point is that no such presumption exists.

Your core point is not clear because it is an anti-analogy. Analogies are not helpful to begin with, but anti-analogies are even worse. It needs to be clarified, but let me help.

I agree that any citizen committed to democracy should make sure that the electoral process is fair. This means, above all, that the legal procedures in place have been respected, and also that nothing has occurred which cannot be codified but which seriously calls into question the sincerity of the ballot. I think you agree, but contradict me if you don't.

However, here's where it gets complicated: questioning the results (in bad faith) is also a way of trying to cheat. So a citizen committed to democracy should also view any accusations of fraud with circumspection.

He or she should therefore demand that anyone making such accusations provides, perhaps not evidence, but factual elements that lead him or her to believe that irregularities have been committed and that they are of such a nature as to call the results into question. Tell me where I'm wrong.

One way to try to do this is examine specific claims of fraud and foul play…

You’re certainly right overall, but you’re underplaying here the particulars of Trump and the ecosystem of liars and idiots who cannot be swayed by any level of evidence about the fairness of elections, even when they win!

On many issues, I blame the left for being the root of the problem. On elections, however, there’s clearly a Trump-inspired delusion on the right that is impervious to reality.

Suppose I were to suggest that a goal of the 2020 election was not in fact to convince the losers that they lost fairly. It was to convince the losers that the winners could engage blatant shenanigans and get away with it. To let conservatives know that the only way they could win would be to challenge the legitimacy of the system.... which, being conservatives, they could not do. So the only real choice available to them was to sit down, shut up, and assist in the muzzling of their fringe in exchange for being thrown a bone now and then.

So one side gets a Heckler's Veto until they are convinced of the legitimacy of the election?

This, but unironically.

The primary goal of an election is convincing the losers they lost to ensure a peaceful transfer of power. Selecting a winner is a significantly less important goal. If a large portion of the population doesn't believe the election (and therefore the government) is legitimate, that's the road to a coup or civil war. Or at least lower level societal dysfunction as more people reject government authority. It's still a problem even if their reasons appear to be nonsense.

The primary goal of an election is convincing the losers they lost to ensure a peaceful transfer of power. Selecting a winner is a significantly less important goal.

Precisely.

So what’s the theory on how to get people who demonstrably don’t care about evidence to become open to being convinced by evidence?

Conspiratorial thinking is famously hard to deal with.

Let’s pretend Dems had done an admirable job of running elections to whatever standard you consider reasonable, but Trump still narrowly lost.

How different would Trump and MAGA types have behaved in your view?

Yes. that's literally how democracy works.

You have to convince the other half of the country they lost fair and square, or give up on peaceful transition of power. There is no third option.

If you find the other half to be unreasonable, that's a problem, but they still need to be placated or fought.

Too bad nobody can provide an elephant.

“There’s a huge elephant in here you aren’t addressing but don’t ask for specifics.”

Vibes -> tall claims -> shoddy evidence -> vibes -> …

It’s a self-sustaining cycle of BS until good evidence can be provided, instead of dancing around that elephant-sized gap.

https://www.dailywire.com/news/outrage-erupts-after-windows-covered-up-in-detroit-during-ballot-count-officials-release-statement-on-alleged-reason-behind-decision

There is an elephant. Conservative election observers were kicked out of the room, and the windows were covered up so Democrat's could count the ballets in secret. Whatever the just so reasons given to justify this action, they are unacceptable. It's impossible to trust anything that occurred in that room now.

You'll note that even this article quotes this:

"Both political parties had surpassed the law-mandated maximum of 134 challengers with more than 200 each, and when election workers told GOP challengers the party had hit its limit, some began shouting about the unfair process and lack of transparency. An unidentified election worker shouted back the group was at its maximum size."

Poll watchers were kicked out (or not allowed to enter) because there were already in EXCESS of the legally mandated 134 challengers inside the room.

How is it impossible to trust when there were more than 200 Republican poll watchers INSIDE. How many before you would trust it? 300? 500? 1,000? There has to be some maximum that is enforced.

The elephant is that this was not enough! You can let more people in to challenge than the legal maximum and still people are not happy. Votes were not counted in secret. There were 200 Republican poll watchers inside the room. Even that article does not claim there were none. The biggest claim there is:

"“There were some pretty tense moments inside of this room. Basically some poll workers or some of challengers told us that there was not an equal number of Democrats and Republicans in this room throughout the entire process,”"

That's it. Not that there were no watchers, not that they were kicked out and the ballots were counted secretly. Just that the numbers were not equal.

Whatever the just so reasons given to justify this action, they are unacceptable.

You don't kick out election observers and board up the windows, period. I'm entirely uninterested in whatever facile justifications they give. If there is a problem, at best, you pause the counting until a satisfactory solution to all parties is agreed upon. Not kick people out, board up windows, and then plow on ahead in the chaos.

More over, I don't know what kind of weasel words these claims of the GOP having the "maximum" number even means. Did the dems have more? Then how is it a maximum? How large was the facility? Is the "maximum" some generic statute, related to the fire code, for that specific facility?

But this is exactly the back and forth that always happens. Some shit goes down that any person can plainly see is suspicious, and some just so explanation is given that we are supposed to automatically trust.

No.

If there is a problem, at best, you pause the counting until a satisfactory solution to all parties is agreed upon. Not kick people out, board up windows, and then plow on ahead in the chaos.

In a similar case in Philadelphia, Trump's campaign filed for an emergency halt to the count because they claimed it was proceeding without Republican observers present, but then their lawyer had to admit to a judge that actually there were "a non zero number" of Republican observers in the room. This is part of a common pattern around that time where they'd make explosive claims only to have to walk it back significantly once they were in court where lying carried penalties.

Based on the number of blatantly frivolous claims that were credulously trotted out, I believe the concerns over electoral safeguards were generally not earnest. Instead, the overwhelming motivation was upset that Trump was losing and so they used election integrity as a pretextual facade. That's why there has been such a flood of low-quality claims (remember Sharpiegate? Italian satellites? Bamboo ballots? Dominion algorithm?) that would get dropped as soon as they fell apart, only to move on to the next thing.

IIRC this was the one where the observers were 'in the room' but kept behind barriers quite far from the actual counters, so that they couldn't actually monitor or object to anything the counters were doing -- there were photos at the time that made this quite clear. Observers who tried to approach more closely were kicked out because covid.

I'm fairly sure I've brought this up with you more than once before, and have a vague memory of you acknowledging that it was bad on one occasion -- now you are triumphantly bringing it up again as an example of Repulicans being unreasonable, and writing blog posts about it. It's a good example of what Dean has been complaining about -- you are coming off as a dishonest interlocutor here to anyone who followed events at the time and maybe went to the trouble of digging up links for you.

The blog post is dated Nov 5, 2020 and it was just a copy of one of my motte reddit post. I don't recall the issue with the Philadelphia observers being kept behind barriers, but either way that's not the claim the Trump lawyers went with in court. I also don't recall what exchange you're referring to, I was able to dig up this conversation where I tried to ascertain the worst-case scenario from the Georgia water main incident, but that doesn't seem to be what you have in mind.

It's a good example of what Dean has been complaining about -- you are coming off as a dishonest interlocutor here to anyone who followed events at the time and maybe went to the trouble of digging up links for you.

I take allegations of dishonesty very seriously! That's why I keep offering my full motte archives for others to scrutinize. If I'm ever being dishonest or whatever (as Dean constantly insists I am) then it should be effortless to demonstrate this. You're citing an exchange that you claim to be a good example of my dishonesty, but it's based off your memory. If you're remembering correctly, then I will acknowledge error and issue a public apology. But if you're misremembering, I would appreciate an apology from you.

If the claim in court, where you do need to be very specific, was that people weren't allowed in, but they were and just kept far away, then the claim should reflect that, right?

You don't kick out election observers and board up the windows, period

You sure do, if the number of obsevers is in excess of the legal limit. What is your alternative? Break the law simply to meet your personal standard of credulity? Such an action would be just as likely to be highlighted as one of the "irregularities" that "proves" the steal as assuage your concerns.

I don't know what kind of weasel words these claims of the GOP having the "maximum" number even means. Did the dems have more? Then how is it a maximum? How large was the facility? Is the "maximum" some generic statute, related to the fire code, for that specific facility?

These are all great questions that have a large bearing on whether or not anything untoward happened. Unfortunately you seem ignorant of the answers to them, despite the fact that this case was brought by you as evidence of your position. That you should then try to parlay this ignorance into further "evidence" is, charitably, wild as hell.

Some shit goes down that any person can plainly see is suspicious,

We do not all "plainly see" that something suspicious is happening, hence this discussion.

I bet pauses in counting wouldn’t arouse any suspicions…

The mistake you’re making is conflating “suspicious” with “malicious” and “impactful.”

Here, there was intense scrutiny over the counting and too many observers causing issues such that an election official took action to resolve things. The intense scrutiny led to an irregularity that you are treating as conclusive evidence that shenanigans were afoot.

It’s a bit of circular reasoning that you can’t be pulled out of unless you acknowledge that the strangeness did not stop observation and that there is no evidence showing actual misdeeds with the ballot counting.

Michigan law allows one challenger per party, per absentee counting board. There were 134 absentee counting boards ergo 134 of each party should have been allowed in the room. They have to take an oath, have an ID from their organization etc. You can't just walk in. Normally, they don't get close to that, so they weren't keeping count until the room got crowded and when counted they realized they had 570 observers which included at least 227 Republican observers. At this point they elected to not let anyone else in (both Democrat and Republican) until some of those had left. That is what triggered the situation.

Your claim that there was secret counting is false. Your OWN evidence showed that (because they had reports from poll watchers inside the room). So now your claim is that there weren't enough let in. That may be true (depending on how many observers you think should be allowed in) but it is not the same thing as ballots being counted secretly.

Now obviously you can doubt the numbers provided, but just as a check, if you were shown evidence that there were 227 Republican poll watchers inside the room watching the ballots being counted AND you were sure that this was accurate, would that be enough to at least walk back the claim that ballots were being counted secretly?

Is there any actual evidence the count was done wrong or ballots tampered with? Were any follow up investigations done?

Is this one instance of suspicious behavior enough to justify claiming an election was rigged or stolen?

My daughter has been in a sneaky mood lately. She likes to take things she's not supposed to, hide them behind her back, and then yell that there is nothing behind her back. I do not plan on allowing election workers to behave in a similar manner. "Actual evidence" is just goalpost moving when they are violating the norms (and in many cases the law) in a direction of preventing "actual evidence" from being collection. That's why those norms and laws exist.

There is suggestive evidence and then there’s definitive evidence.

Was there a recount of those ballots? An investigation into anything being done behind the curtain?

It’s not moving the goalpost to point out you’ve identified smoke and not a fire, because the position of any reasonable person is not that nothing strange, improper, or illegal happened in 2020. It’s that such irregularities were not of sufficient scale or coordinated to rig or steal the election from an incumbent president.

There was a bit of cheating and wonkiness, but trust us - no more than usual.

It's not that I can't believe Trump lost fair and square. It's that I have no reason to trust that claim from people who regularly lied (or insinuated falsehoods) to me repeatedly in the run-up to his ousting. I can't expect then be honest about praising Nazis, I can't expect them to be honest about Russian collusion, I can't even expect them to be honest about feedish fish in Japan. But I'm supposed to buy the narrative that everything wasn't just above-board for the 2020 election, but even so much better than historical standards, no ifs or buts. That is until these conversations play out, and that S-ranked election integrity gets downgraded - but don't worry, not downgraded enough to suggest anything was questionable.

FWIW I think you're being super reasonable in your demands for evidence. And it's highly probable that that the general Right's refusal to concede this matter is a product of their pattern recognitions producing an error. Just because they were lied to about 10 other things doesn't mean media and political organs aren't telling the truth about lack of evidence for fraud and shenanigans. Unfortunately, when they all decided to sacrifice their integrity and honesty, they took my charity with it. I don't think this is a reactionary position, but an informed one.

Who cares any more, any way. As if anybody at this stage is going to change their mind based on the verdict of some tribunal or investigative body. The ship of legitimacy sunk well before all of this, and I can't believe anybody thinks it can be restored with some official paperwork. What awful stewards our leaders are, for putting us in this position

It’s not “trust us”

It’s “where’s the evidence to confirm the suspicions”

There was intense scrutiny of this election. Plots leave evidence. Extraordinary claims were made.

You can ignore the narrative and simply examine the cases.

Pattern recognition is great until it becomes immune to counter evidence or ceases to even require supporting evidence.

I get the same feeling and employ nearly the same responses when I deal with the right on elections or the left on systemic racism. So much smoke, so little fire.

With Russiagate, there was a lot of smoke and some actual fires, just not any fire that matched the level of rhetoric about Trump himself. So the left was wrong to overhype it as a bonfire, but the right is wrong to pretend that the level of coziness Trump officials and associates had with certain Russians was unprecedented, inappropriate, and in some cases illegal. Republicans used to recognize the threat from Russia and I miss those days.

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Were you aware that your own link says that there were 134 republicans in the room during counting?

You need to understand that the purpose of an election isnot to produce a "true" or "accurate" result. It is to produce a clear result that the candidates (and thier voters) can accept as legitimate, including the ones who lost. This is why we use paper ballots with documented chains of custody, this is why we have laws requiring that the counting be witnessed by representative of each candidate/party.

This is an incoherent pair of sentences. What function does having a paper trail or bipartisan autiding have except for helping to establish that the reported vote count is true and accurate (or it's degree thereof)? A paper trail will not make someone accept an election as legitimate, if they are not interested in obtaining (or respecting, as a process for determining who wins) the factual truth of the vote count.

The simple thing that after 4 years of this conversation you still don't seem to grasp is that you aren't going to convince anyone the election was legitimate by arguing the niggling technical details of individual cases and motions. You need to actually address the elephant in the room

"You aren't going to convince anyone the election was legitimate by arguing and evaluating specific factual claims". Quite right! It was clear in 2020 and even more clear now, that most who believe the election was stolen did not come to that belief through a sober consideration of the facts.

This is an incoherent pair of sentences.

It's not incoherent at all it is the core of what I mean when I bring up "the contested environment". The purpose of having documented chains of custody and witnesses from both parties involved in the process is so that when irregularities do occur, Side A can tell Side B "Ok, but your guy signed off on it. If you have a problem with the count, you should take it up with them". "Truth" and "Accuracy" are secondary concerns.

The point I'm trying to make here and the point that yourself the OP, @2rafa, @SwordOfOccam don't seem to be grasping is that onus of proof is not on the losers to provide evidence of illegitimacy, the onus is on election officials to convince the losing party that they lost fair and square. See my above reply to @FiveHourMarathon.

I grasp your point.

What you don’t grasp is that you’re calling for a near-impossible standard when dealing with bad faith or illogical actors.

No one can convince Trump about the true size of a crowd, let alone the outcome of an election. Even when he wins.

For any level of effort to show it was fair and square, the conspiracy theory can go a level deeper. Our elections are not perfect and improvements should be made, but don’t pretend that can meaningfully shift present vibes on the right.

Examining specific allegations is the only reasonable response, but people uninterested in reason won’t be persuaded that the lack of evidence means they should downgrade their conspiratorial confidence.

It's disingenuous to claim that lack of evidence proves something when one of the complaints is that ervidence collecting was made very difficult.

It’s disingenuous to claim evidence collecting was made very difficult when that’s not the case, when the TTV case involved refusing to show claimed evidence, and where every case of presented evidence I’m aware of, like the cyber ninjas, was a laughable attempt.

The continued lack of evidence proves that the claims made remain unjustified. It doesn’t prove nothing happened, but it does strongly suggest a pattern of BS artists making stuff up and credulous people believing whatever feels right to them.

The point I'm trying to make here and the point that yourself the OP, @2rafa, @SwordOfOccam don't seem to be grasping is that onus of proof is not on the losers to provide evidence of illegitimacy, the onus is on election officials to convince the losing party that they lost fair and square.

And my point is that Donald Trump is a sore loser who was never going to accept that he lost “fair and square”. What do you think it would take to convince Trump he lost fair and square? This is the pivotal question in this debate, since most of Trump’s supporters will take his opinion on the matter.

And my point is that Donald Trump is a sore loser who was never going to accept that he lost “fair and square”.

Irrelevant because it is not Donald Trump the individual you ultimately need to convince but a plurality of the people who voted for him.

Those people’s views are in substantial part dependent upon Trump. If he had accepted defeat in 2020 we wouldn’t be having this conversation because his supporters would almost all have fallen in line with his views.

the onus is on election officials to convince the losing party that they lost fair and square.

I don't think that is the job of election officials. Especially having been one such election official. That is way too high level a thing for random local government workers to be worrying about. Their job is to organize the election in line with whatever budget, rules and laws apply in their location. They don't have the time or expertise to be trying to decide what will look legitimate or not. That is done by the politicians setting what rules and laws they need to follow.

If Michigan wants 134 observers of each party and passes a law, then when the election officials deny more people getting in and that looks like they are hiding something, that is not on the election officials. When people are filming through the windows and the city attorney tells them to cover the windows in case some of the ballot information is visible, that isn't on the poor schlubs getting paper cuts inside.

Legitimacy is built way before that point. The fact several hundred people were trying to get in prior to that situation shows that the legitimacy was in question BEFORE the election actually happened. Election officials can't do anything about that.

I don't think that is the job of election officials.

Then, as @Walterodim and others have observed below, we have a serious problem.

I think there are people that have such responsibility, but if the PA legislature passes a mail in voting for all law, or Michigan passes a no more than one observer per party per board law, then it isn't up to the election officials to not carry out the wishes of the duly elected representatives of the people. Even if they think it will look really bad from a legitimacy point of view. it simply isn't their remit to override laws like that.

There is no onus on anyone. Nobody has to do anything, or prove anything. You do not have to convince anyone, and nobody has to convince you. I'm sure the United States will survive in some form without the people who have decided (not without justification )that they don't like the society that has slowly developed and evolved over 250 years. But then I have to wonder what exactly you think you're doing.

There is no onus on anyone

But there is. Just because you've chosen not to believe in it does not mean it is not there. This is exactly what I'm talking about when I go on about "contested environments", "the Leviathan-shaped hole", and liberals treating the relative peace and prosperity of societies like the US and EU as an inevitability rather than something that has to be actively maintained.

It is easy for someone who's only ever known peace to forget just how much ruin there is in a nation.

onus of proof is not on the losers to provide evidence of illegitimacy, the onus is on election officials to convince the losing party that they lost fair and square.

I agree that election officials have a responsibility to affirmatively defend the integrity of the elections they manage. The problem is that some election skeptics are implacable and immune to evidence. They believe the only legitimate outcome is when their preferred candidate wins, and so they see a loss as presumptive evidence of fraud and they'll work backwards and credulously repeat whatever theory happens to be convenient to their narrative. It's a big problem but I don't know how you're supposed to reason with delusional people.

No, it's incoherent. There is literally no point in having audits or paper trails if there is not an objective measure of who wins an election. In our actual reality, the organizing principal we use is, " the guy with the most votes wins" (to first order). Even the steal crowd universally couches their arguments in terms of stolen votes, vote counts, counting processes etc. factually, the number of counts matters, because that is the agreed upon standard.

Someone can always in principle defect from the process, but that is not particularly interesting since anyone can always defect from any process. In that case, the losing party should be honest and say, "I don't like this outcome, so fuck you I won't respect it" rather than endlessly engaging in claims of irregularities in the administrivia.

the onus is on election officials to convince the losing party that they lost fair and square.

This doesn't logically follow from what you wrote above. Granting we have a mutually agreed upon process (as you say), even if it has no contact with any objective truth or measure, if party A has a concern, they should be able to point to some irregularity in the paper trail. That is it's whole reason for existing, by your own argument. If they think the process itself is unfair, they can always point to a specific attribute of the process. If party A just sits back and says, you know what, this seems fishy, why don't you bring me another rock and maybe that will assuage concerns, there's no reason why that should shift the burden of proof at all.

As such I would suggest that in the event that the above safeguards are broken/removed or other irregularities appear (and I don't think you can deny that there were irregularities) it is only fair, dare I say it rational, to ask "what gives?"

Sure, I don't disagree with this. It's perfectly reasonable to be skeptical of claims of legitimacy, but if the skepticism is primarily/only deployed in one direction, or if it is immune or implacably resistant to evidence, then it's also reasonable to conclude the skepticism is either the source of delusion or some other form of motivated reasoning. If someone is a perennial believer that the election was stolen, I have no ideations that I would be able to convince them otherwise with evidence, because it's unlikely that evidence got them where they are in the first place. I'm not equipped to make vibes-based arguments, and I don't know any other topic (except maybe trans gender identity?) where this is seen as an acceptable basis to hold a belief.

I prefer actual evidence. All I know how to do is to dig into specific claims with specifics, and I picked one that's fairly unambiguous. TTV showed up in court and said they didn't have evidence they claimed they have — there's no way to spin this any other way. I understand that if someone is particularly attached to believing in the belief that the 2020 election was stolen, then claims about TTV present an uncomfortable and inconvenient threat to their preferred narrative but that's not on me.

I'm not equipped to make vibes-based arguments, and I don't know any other topic (except maybe trans gender identity?) where this is seen as an acceptable basis to hold a belief.

I prefer actual evidence. All I know how to do is to dig into specific claims with specifics

To build on @HlynkaCG's perspective flip and attempt to provide actual evidence and specific claims with specifics to what is fundamentally, we can agree, a "vibes-based argument" (because I take @HylnkaCG's perspective flip to be that the vibes of legitimacy are, in fact, fundamental), I would point to a couple comments I've made here about the importance of secrecy in voting, including specifics of how it has been minimized or cast aside entirely in the "new normal", as well as specific claims from a plethora of international pro-democracy, pro-election-legitimacy-methods organizations.

I will again freely admit that the conclusion of such specifics are cashed out in vibes. One of the international organizations that I quoted concluded:

Ballot delivery, marking, and counting systems used in postal voting present considerable and unique challenges to the integrity of elections. There are several commonly used procedural safeguards for voting by mail, such as ballot secrecy envelopes, witness requirements and signature verification. However, these technical solutions may not be enough to instill confidence in postal voting if there is diminished public trust in electoral processes and administration.

That is, the end result of what you do, of any specifics that you discuss, must be measured in the extent to which it "instill[s] confidence" or "diminishe[s] public trust".

Would you be interested in a further debate concerning specifics of how voting secrecy works, why we have it, what methods are commonly used to ensure it, specific things that have been done which violate the specific demands of voting secrecy, etc., even though the end conclusion of that discussion necessarily cashes out in terms of vibes/confidence/trust?

if the skepticism is primarily/only deployed in one direction, or if it is immune or implacably resistant to evidence, then it's also reasonable to conclude the skepticism is either the source of delusion

Whereas this, I'm not sure if @Amadan would say it violates the rules this week or not. It might be interpreted as implying that your opponents are simply blind, irrational, partisan haters.

Would you be interested in a further debate concerning specifics of how voting secrecy works, why we have it, what methods are commonly used to ensure it, specific things that have been done which violate the specific demands of voting secrecy, etc., even though the end conclusion of that discussion necessarily cashes out in terms of vibes/confidence/trust?

Sure, that's an interesting topic with lots of areas of discussion. I think I made it clear that there's nothing wrong with discussing how to instill confidence in a voting system even in response to suspicions that end up being unfounded. The problem is when the suspicion is a pretextual excuse for "my candidate didn't win ergo this was a fraud"

It might be interpreted as implying that your opponents are simply blind, irrational, partisan haters.

There's nothing forbidden about presenting evidence and drawing conclusions from it. If someone's skepticism is indeed immune to evidence, what other explanations are there?

Sure, that's an interesting topic with lots of areas of discussion. I think I made it clear that there's nothing wrong with discussing how to instill confidence in a voting system even in response to suspicions that end up being unfounded.

So, uh, would you like to discuss it? Maybe make a contribution to the discussion?

There's nothing forbidden about presenting evidence and drawing conclusions from it. If someone's skepticism is indeed immune to evidence, what other explanations are there?

I'm trying to understand this very thing right now, so we'll see if the mods agree that this is a thing that you can do.

My apologies, I thought you meant discussing voting secrecy on the podcast. I read your post about the Arizona secrecy litigation and largely agree with your position that the original purpose of using secrecy to safeguard against coercion appear to have been completely forgotten. That and a broader discussion on how to maintain confidence and public trust in elections would be interesting, I just don't have much to add to the subject on my own at the moment because I haven't looked into it. I'd be happy to bounce off against other people's proposals/concerns.

Whereas this, I'm not sure if @Amadan would say it violates the rules this week or not. It might be interpreted as implying that your opponents are simply blind, irrational, partisan haters.

You are not doing yourself any favors by claiming we make up the rules weekly and then tagging me to make sure the dig is seen.

So the first thing I notice is that you cut off the end of the quote you are claiming "might be" interpreted in a certain way.

The full quote is:

It's perfectly reasonable to be skeptical of claims of legitimacy, but if the skepticism is primarily/only deployed in one direction, or if it is immune or implacably resistant to evidence, then it's also reasonable to conclude the skepticism is either the source of delusion or some other form of motivated reasoning.

That seems like a reasonable statement to me. It would require a disingenuous, bad faith reading to interpret it as "You're saying your opponents are simply blind, irrational, partisan haters." No, he's saying people who only deploy skepticism in one direction and are resistant to evidence are either deluded or using motivated reasoning.

There are a lot of caveats and qualifiers in that statement. You can disagree with how he framed it or his wording, you can assert that that does not describe people who are taking the specific position he is arguing against, you can take issue with his argument, but in my judgment (which does not change "weekly"), it is not like just calling someone a victim of "TDS" because he criticizes Trump.

If you want to engage the mods in a reasonable discussion about whether the rules are being applied fairly, snide jabs like this aren't your best strategy. I just took the time to explain to you why "No, really, TDS is real and Trump's critics really are deranged, Psychology Today says so!" is not an appropriate excuse for calling someone deranged. Once again I conclude that taking the time to write long paragraphs explaining my reasoning and trying to be fair to people who are only here to take cheap shots is a waste of my time and charity. I will not make this mistake with you again.

Thank you for explaining your reasoning. I just wish I could understand it better.

So the first thing I notice is that you cut off the end of the quote you are claiming "might be" interpreted in a certain way.

Combined with

No, he's saying people who only deploy skepticism in one direction and are resistant to evidence are either deluded or using motivated reasoning.

I think my first hypothesis for this explanation would be termed "Disjunctive Relief", and I don't think it would fly elsewhere. I don't think if someone said, "...and the conclusion of my argument (which assumes that my opponents are using motivated reasoning) is that my opponents are Nazis or using motivated reasoning," one would be so generous as to say, "But they did say 'or using motivated reasoning', so maybe they're just saying that they're using motivated reasoning." Nah. It would be interpreted as a way to simply call your opponents Nazis. Of course, if you would like to correct this hypothesis, I will update my understanding of the rules accordingly.

I think my second hypothesis would be that you simply view "TDS" as a slur, which is then subject to the unwritten slurs policy, which "has always" taken into account tone or "vibes". Paired with that, you think that "delusional" is not a slur. Instead, it's just the proper word to describe the conclusion that some people have literal delusions, things that their minds just made up. This is perhaps reasonable, and it would also jive with this comment not being modded, as it uses the slur, but gives enough negative vibes to both sides so as to have the appropriate ethereal balance.

My third hypothesis is that you take specific umbrage with appearing to say that a particular person has TDS. As you put it:

it is not like just calling someone a victim of "TDS" because he criticizes Trump.

In this case, my sub-hypothesis is that this is a version of, "Why use few word when many word do?" My comment was vastly too short on explicitly stating that Ashlael deploys his skepticism in only one direction, is immune or implacably resistant to evidence, and evinces a disgust reaction to Trump that does not correlate to any pre-Trump political commitments. Rather than bulk accusing anyone in the thread who doesn't meet his specific demands for how to respond, I assumed some knowledge of the vast history of a particular poster, without recounting it, to make my conclusion. Therefore, if I had simply explicitly stated the implicit qualifications that went into the conclusion, it would have been considered acceptable.

Finally, as for

I just took the time to explain to you why "No, really, TDS is real and Trump's critics really are deranged, Psychology Today says so!" is not an appropriate excuse for calling someone deranged.

and its precursor

I am not impressed by citations from Psychology Today. You may recall that back in the late 90s and oughts there was something of a cottage industry of articles from psychologists and linguists and others arguing very soberly that, essentially, conservatives are all mentally ill and/or fascists whose mommies didn't love them enough. I'm sure you would not be receptive to someone "shorthanding" this concept in such a way as to simply label conservatives crazy.

I think you misunderstand the point of citing PT. PT is almost certainly not pro-Trump. They are almost certainly maximally skeptical of the concept of TDS and maximally likely to portray it in the least charitable light possible. Citing them is the opposite of support for my interpretation. It is saying that even if you start from the most skeptical position possible, my interpretation still captures a phenomenon that is coherent. This is a completely different attempt than, say, citing some random psychologist in a left-wing publication who criticizes a right-wing politician or vice-versa.

Finally, if I can fully combine them here now, I would like to respond to:

"Anti-Trump partisan" will do.

I think this completely fails to engage with the entire paragraph I wrote on the topic:

I think one could be an anti-Trump partisan without having TDS. Primarily, if they don't experience a higher-than-typical (for his or her self) level of political disgust about Trump. I don't get that sense from AshLael. I don't see him posting about, say, anything in Aussie politics in a way that oozes disgust for the spectacle.

In your follow-on, you say:

If you want to make the much longer argument you made above - that "TDS" is actually a thing and represents more than simply hating Trump - then you will have to do so, by making that argument (and explaining why it applies to the OP).

I think I best interpret this as hypothesis two, that you currently think that TDS is just a slur and that every usage of it either must therefore balance the ethereal vibes or come with a full explanation of the complete meaning, every time. That's fair enough, but it doesn't address what I had actually asked for - a shorthand way of saying that concept without having to copy/paste an entire explanation every time. Perhaps none exists, and I will simply end up having to copy/paste every time, but that none exists does not actually mean that "anti-Trump partisan" will do.

EDIT: Also, I'd like to make a note on your comment:

I just took the time to explain to you why "No, really, TDS is real and Trump's critics really are deranged, Psychology Today says so!" is not an appropriate excuse for calling someone deranged. Once again I conclude that taking the time to write long paragraphs explaining my reasoning and trying to be fair to people who are only here to take cheap shots is a waste of my time and charity. I will not make this mistake with you again.

I would like to submit the timestamp of my comment here at 9:30AM EST, while your nice explanation is timestamped at 9:08AM EST. I was on a rush out of the house yesterday morning. I don't have the clearest memory, because I mostly remember trying to get out of the house, but I don't believe I had seen your 9:08AM comment at the time that I started writing or posted my 9:30AM comment. I believe I did click refresh and saw it before I left the house, but definitely didn't have time to respond to it yesterday. I think you worrying about "making this mistake with [me] again" would, itself, be a mistake of fact.

one would be so generous as to say, "But they did say 'or using motivated reasoning', so maybe they're just saying that they're using motivated reasoning." Nah. It would be interpreted as a way to simply call your opponents Nazis. Of course, if you would like to correct this hypothesis, I will update my understanding of the rules accordingly.

It's possible for facts to be congruent with more than one hypothesis.

Are you able define "evidence" in this context.

Does the existence of both opportunity and motive, constitute "evidence"? or are those just "vibes"?

There are obvious actionable steps that could be taken to increase trust. For example, Gallup reports that 8 in 10 Americans support requiring a photo ID to vote. Likewise keeping the polls open for multiple days and/or making election day a national holiday. Even if no-one can prove one way another that a specific irregularity swayed the result one way or another the stubborn refusal to acknowledge these irregularities presents a problem in itself as it undermines trust. Likewise, it could be just a coincidence that those who are most vocally opposed to such measures are simultaneously lobbying for the weakening or removal of remaining safeguards and are almost uniformly Biden supporters, but I don't see how anyone could deny that it is "suspicious as all get out" given the circumstances.

As for the accusation that skepticism is only being deployed in one direction, I think you ought to look in the mirror and ask yourself what it is about Trump voters in particular that has you so wrapped around the axle. Why did this become your hobby horse? When leading Democrats were going on TV each week to claim that the 2000, 2004, 2016 elections had been stolen. did you feel the need to step in and defend the legitimacy of the system then? Why or Why not?

I think Clinton was wrong to say what she said in 2016 about illegitimacy, though at least the plot she alleged by Russia was actually real, even if we can’t know how much impact it had.

2000 and the hanging chads was actually a pretty crazy situation overall. Gore took it pretty gracefully even if Dems made a lot of commentary about it.

I can’t properly evaluate the ratio of “claim to evidence” about the other stuff, but it’s pretty easy to endorse a consistent policy of “people shouldn’t make claims they can’t back with evidence.”

Trump was also making claims about election issues in 2016 and before. I’m sure one could go find some Republicans complaining about election integrity over the years too.

I mean, the whole bit where Obama was illegitimate based on his alleged birth situation rushes to mind.

Overall, it’s pretty easy to say “Democrats have been pretty bad and imprecise with election integrity claims” and also believe Trump and MAGA are on an entirely new level.

It’s nice being an Enlightened Centrist who can be disgusted by both sides and maintain the poor behavior by one side does not justify it by the other.

Evidence is any fact that is consistent with the stated claim, and inconsistent with the opposite. Establishing motive and opportunity is not sufficient if it doesn't help you rule out possibilities, otherwise motive would count as evidence to support that every election was stolen by each side every time. I'm in favor of any and all safeguards that target and actually reduce the risk of actual election fraud rather than the ones that are either security theater or deployed for a pretextual purpose. This is my consistent standard for all security concerns (airport security screening, gun control measures, etc).

I think you ought to look in the mirror and ask yourself what it is about Trump voters in particular that has you so wrapped around the axle. Why did this become your hobby horse?

Because nothing comes close to the level of abject delusional theories that Trump and his followers repeated. I don't care which political party someone is part of, if they're claiming that Italian satellites changed the Dominion algorithm and created 3-5 million fraudulent votes because Hugo Chavez had planned this all along and they're receiving institutional affirmation instead of disavowed as loons, yeah, that's a serious problem.

As such I would suggest that in the event that the above safeguards are broken/removed or other irregularities appear (and I don't think you can deny that there were irregularities) it is only fair, dare I say it rational, to ask "what gives?".

What gave, of course, was COVID-19. It was responsible for the unusually high proportion of mail-in voting, which is certainly less secure due to chain-of-custody issues. Elections being a contested environment, this gave rise to a slew of legal challenges both before and after election day about exactly under which circumstances mail-in ballots are counted, implicating election statutes and the vagaries of interpreting them that had previously been uninteresting. Many jurisdictions also had inefficient processes for counting mail-in ballots; this was not a problem in prior years, but in 2020 it sometimes incurred multi-day delays in the tabulation process.

This all made the election less crisp and well-executed than before, which does decrease confidence in its legitimacy. However, none of these events themselves are suggestive of votes being systematically over- or under-counted in favor of a particular candidate. If irregularities only contributed noise and not signal, and they're unlikely to happen again now that the pandemic has passed, then it's only fair and rational to ask "who cares?" We could have run a tighter, more confidence-inspiring election, but what we got was serviceable given the unique circumstances of 2020,

Only in pattern matching the irregularities to a specific conspiratorial frame do they gain enough significance to be talking about them in 2024. The electorate is due basic assurances that elections are fair and accurate, but conspiracies theorists are not due overwhelming evidence before their claims can be dismissed on ordinary epistemic grounds.

So everywhere has rolled back the mail in votes? Because I was told they were the way of the future. If 2016 had been run like 2020 there would have been at least the same amount of drama. The only reason there wasn't is because it was considered too ridiculous. Mail in voting tipped the scales (along with, obviously, the candidate who campaigned on being ridiculous losing) from "voting is probably a useless scam" to "voting is definitely a ridiculous scam" for a significant chunk of the population.

Also the idea that irregularities won't happen again is lunacy. Irregularities happen every single election. The only difference is that now everyone on both sides is certain the other side will do it.

No-excuse mail-in voting has been available in many states for a long time, it just wasn't as broadly adopted before the pandemic. About a quarter of all ballots cast in the 2016 election were mail-in, compared to about half in 2020. This dropped down to about 30% in 2022. Eight states have made mail-in the default going forward, but generally not swing states. Overall, the voting landscape has changed somewhat, but 2020 remains an outlier in terms of poorly-prepared swing states dealing with a flood of mail ballots under duress.

Obviously all elections have irregularities, we just won't be experiencing the ones that made the 2020 election messier than usual. It's true that increasing political polarization and paranoia means that future elections might get picked apart even if they're run to ordinary standards, but this is an indictment of our political culture and not our ability to accurately count ballots.

Do you remember the 2016 election? Were you politically active for it? My gut says no, since you mention the mid terms like they tell us anything, but I also get the impression you were just trying to be patronising so I thought I'd ask. How do you think the fact that democrats need more voters and republicans need less voters plays into the situation?

Do you remember the 2016 election? Were you politically active for it?

Yes, I was.

My gut says no, since you mention the mid terms like they tell us anything

Midterm voting behavior is different over all, but the percentage of mail voting has been roughly similar to major election years (e.g. ~25% in 2018).

How do you think the fact that democrats need more voters and republicans need less voters plays into the situation?

If more people participating in democracy is bad for Republicans, so much the worse for Republicans. They can and will adjust.

Yes, I was.

So you remember that the election came very close to being declared fraudulent by Hillary Clinton, the most qualified presidential candidate in the history of the universe.

Midterm voting behavior is different over all, but the percentage of mail voting has been roughly similar to major election years (e.g. ~25% in 2018).

Still no source, and no explanation of why the percentage of mail in votes means anything over different demographics (which the midterms and pe have always had).

Let me guess, you don't care because go blue team! Blue team good! Red team bad! Democracy good! Don't think about it, democracy good! Full stop! Conversations bad! Talking points good!

Hey turnabout is fair play right? Alternatively you could stop the partisan shit and engage with the actual arguments. You don't have any reason to believe that future elections will be any more secure, you just have faith they will be. But the entire fucking problem hlynka brought up is that a third of the country doesn't. You just don't give a shit.

No-excuse mail-in voting has been available in many states for a long time...

Sure, but it was typically limited to legal residents living out-of-state/overseas and was something that had to be requested with a reason provided, thus guaranteeing at least some correlation between mailed ballots and active voters. Changing the rules at the last second to allow mass mailings as was done in Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Et Al was perhaps justified in the context of ongoing Covid lockdowns but has no place today. The whole thing just reeks of Rham Emmanuel/Janet Reno-esque opportunism.

Pennsylvania

Just to reiterate the PA changes were made in 2019 PRIOR to Covid by Republicans. They believed it would help turn out in rural areas where polling locations might require a lot of travel.

Sure, but it was typically limited to legal residents living out-of-state/overseas and was something that had to be requested with a reason provided

A slight majority of states allowed absentee ballots without any reason (thus "no-excuse"), it just had to be requested. Source here. More states are no-excuse or all-mail after the pandemic, but it wasn't exactly unusual before.

Since the pandemic, eight states now have all-mail voting (sending out mail ballots to everyone by default), but none are generally considered swing states at the moment. Obviously this could still impact state and by-district federal elections, but it probably won't shift electoral college votes much. The 2022 midterms had around 30% mail ballots compared to around 25% in 2018, so the durable shift in voting behavior is much less than the outlier that was 2020 at around half. Republican-led states such as Georgia passed legislation making voting more regimented and less accessible, and Georgia is actually becoming a swing state. The charge of opportunism can be leveled at nearly everyone.

I don’t know why people discount the fact that Trump isn’t coming to “they stole the election from me” from some kind of neutral position. Trump is a historically, notoriously thin skinned man who lashes out at a lot of criticism and almost compulsively responds to it (eg tweeting @ minor columnists, celebrities or TV hosts who criticized him). The default assumption should be that he’s never going to accept that he lost fair and square, and will claim fraud. A lot of Trump supporters who believe the election was stolen believe it because he said so. Expecting this to be some kind of intellectual debate is ridiculous. Biden stole the election because Trump lost, and because Trump can’t lose and can’t believe he could lose. The evidence must then be obtained, as a secondary process.

This is why ‘stolen’ can mean many things, from hacking electronic voting machines and stuffing ballot boxes to planning protests (ie the ‘fortify the election’ meme) and engaging in the same dirty tactics that have been the norm in American politics for almost 250 years.

People who believe the election was probably stolen based on intuition: will you rescind your claim if Trump wins this year?

Amazing. It's as if four years of arguing about the 2020 election have left no impression on you, and you've made yourself totally impervious to what the other side actually believes. Vote counting stopped in several swing states simultaneously in the dead of night? Mail-in irregularities? Pandemic rules? Ballot "curing"? You must not have heard. I suppose, then, the only rational hypothesis is that everything other people believe is silly.

Covid-19 was a Chinese plot to screw with the US election or am I misunderstanding you?

Believing any of the things you mentioned amounts to sufficient evidence that the 2020 election was rigged as claimed by Trump and others, is silly yeah.

(Particularly in light of actions taken by Trump and co to actually screw with the election outcome.)

Various anti-Trump coalitions deliberately used the pandemic to push through new election procedures they believed would particularly disadvantage Trump. This is well-documented!

Did it meaningfully alter the outcome? Was it foul play?

For example, I can’t take seriously the whining over mailed ballots because I live in a red state that has long had them. I know there are other cases where “hey that’s not fair” was only brought up about some uncontroversial procedural change when it was judged to have perhaps disadvantaged Trump.

Does any of it remotely compare to the blatant, documented attempts by Trump and co to alter or evade the election outcome?

whining over mailed ballots

Expansion of mail-in ballots made it possible to generate mass quantities of votes with no verifiable chain of custody. This makes it trivial for political machines to generate votes. This is a very simple argument. It sounds like you don't understand the position you are trying to mock.

Anyways, many of these rules were changed last-minute exactly in anticipation of marshalling results against Trump. Instead of denying things that happened, try denying that they mattered.

Does any of it remotely compare to the blatant, documented attempts by Trump and co to alter or evade the election outcome?

If the election was stolen, everything Trump did was restoring the right outcome. Your frame presupposes that the election had a neutral "outcome" beyond dispute, when that's exactly what's under dispute.

I do understand the position I am mocking and I live in a red state that has long had mass mailing.

Doing fraud at scale leaves evidence. Where’s your evidence, not just the potential for fraud?

Actually, even if the election was stolen Trump’s actions were still blatantly illegal. Going through the courts is the proper approach, not calling up election officials to pressure them, or creating extralegal electors, or pressing your VP to use made up powers to simply deny the election result.

Doing fraud at scale leaves evidence. Where’s your evidence, not just the potential for fraud?

Show me the chains of custody for the ballots. Prove to me that these ballots were all cast by real live American voters, and not gathered up by a machine city postal worker spinning up a box of votes. This can be done in other countries. So why are so many of the chains of custody destroyed here?

or creating extralegal electors, or pressing your VP to use made up powers to simply deny the election result.

The entire federal government runs on made-up powers. What do you think the Necessary and Proper Clause does.

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Did it meaningfully alter the outcome? Was it foul play?

Can you provide evidence that it did not?

Can you prove there isn’t a teacup orbiting the other side of the moon?

Again, this is where the nature of the contested environment comes up.

As I said above "purpose of an election is not to produce a "true" or "accurate" result. It is to produce a clear result that the candidates (and their voters) can accept as legitimate."

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I mean, if it were orbiting the moon, it couldn't constantly stay on "the other side", because orbits are around a body's centre. And while the L2 point is a thing, L2 orbits are unstable (the Earth-Moon especially so, IIRC) so after a while it'd become visible.

All that stuff is well within the bounds of the entirely regular corrupt shenanigans that have occurred in every US election since the 18th century. Do you really think 1992 or 2012 were “more fair”? They weren’t.

Yes, exactly! The kinds of crooked shenanigans that potentially stole the 2020 election are not unprecedented conspiracies, but historically normal and well-documented. Thank you!

My point, then, is that the specific conservative hysteria over 2020 was because Donald Trump specifically couldn’t accept that he lost (whatever the ‘rules of the game’), not because historically unprecedented corruption occurred. This is the country of Tammany Hall, of Chicago machine politics, of comical gerrymandering, in that context 2020 just doesn’t feel special.

We accept that election-rigging happens, now we're just debating the specifics.

It is more difficult to change an election at a national level than at a local level, and not every election is "rigged". But it's not unprecedented to speculate about rigged presidential resulrs: 1960, 2000. It's a well-documented historical fact that LBJ manufactured tens of thousands of votes in his 1948 Senate election. Tammany Hall and the Chicago machine, as you suggest, are known. So it is possible!

A brief: election rules were changed in many states for the pandemic in 2020 which made it easier to generate mass quantities of mail-in ballots. On election night, when Trump was ahead across several swing states, and had already won presumed-bellweathers Ohio and Florida, vote counting stopped. Suddenly, when counting resumed, Trump was irrevocably behind. Mail-in ballots comprised the difference. Attempts to segregate or eliminate these ballots were regarded as an unjustified conspiracy theory, even though to this day chain of custody basically does not exist for any of them. If you had all the ballots in front of you and wanted to attempt a recount, you could not prove that every ballot actually came from a legitimate registered voter.

At this point, it's fine if you just don't want to believe anything, I can't make you believe in my priors. But making everything about how you think Donald Trump has a thin ego isn't really much of an argument. (It's not as though the other politicians of DC are known for their thick skins.)

We accept that election-rigging happens, now we're just debating the specifics.

We accept that dirty behavior (which may be described as ‘rigging’ if you prefer, although I would limit the use of that term to Anschluss-referendum-type ballot stuffing / just making up numbers) is a perennial feature of US elections and that there was nothing special or unique about 2020, then?

That is the key claim. No democracy is free of corruption or dirty electoral behavior of the type we’re discussing. So ‘2020 was rigged’ proponents face a simple choice - either they accept and argue that every US election ever has been ‘rigged’ by their standards and America is not and has never been a democracy OR they admit that what happens to Trump in 2020 was nothing out of the ordinary and he should accept that he got played and stop whining about what happened to everyone else happening to him.

Which is it? Trump’s thin skin is relevant because it stops him doing what almost every other victim of dirty behavior in US electoral history ultimately did, which is take the L.

which may be described as ‘rigging’ if you prefer, although I would limit the use of that term to Anschluss-referendum-type ballot stuffing / just making up numbers

Sure, that sounds reasonable.

That is the key claim. No democracy is free of corruption or dirty electoral behavior of the type we’re discussing.

This is silly catastrophizing. That crooked behavior exists in every election doesn't mean I need treat all elections as equally crooked. There are clear and obvious theories for what made 2020 especially dirty: the mass expansion of unverifiable mail-in ballots! The simultaneous count stop in several swing states! These are elements unique to the 2020 election. Being suspicious of them does not require me to declare that every election must have been stolen, or to commit to some silly prediction about crooked behavior in the future.

Trump’s thin skin is relevant because it stops him doing what almost every other victim of dirty behavior in US electoral history ultimately did, which is take the L.

If you imagine that Trump could have had it rigged against it and should have conceded anyways, I find this silly again.

That is the key claim. No democracy is free of corruption or dirty electoral behavior of the type we’re discussing. So ‘2020 was rigged’ proponents face a simple choice - either they accept and argue that every US election ever has been ‘rigged’ by their standards and America is not and has never been a democracy OR they admit that what happens to Trump in 2020 was nothing out of the ordinary and he should accept that he got played and stop whining about what happened to everyone else happening to him.

This is a false binary. One can accept that attempts to attack electoral integrity are common and also think that 2020 was an unusually compromised election that was compromised by a series of deliberate policy choices. It wasn't the first severely compromised election and wasn't the worst (see Illinois in 1982 for a truly absurd display of how bad a sufficiently corrupt set of officials can encourage), but it was actually very bad anyway.

I don’t know why people discount the fact that Trump isn’t coming to “they stole the election from me” from some kind of neutral position.

Are you suggesting that liberal partisans/Biden-supporters are not just as biased if not more so in the opposite direction? To quote the Russian Ambassador in Dr. Strangelove "Our source was the New York Times" or rather Time Magazine.

Both sides are biased here.

But it’s one side they severely lacks evidence for their position.

This is actually a very useful way to analyze any given controversial political issue. Did you know for example that claims of “systemic racism” in policing don’t hold up when the evidence is examined? Or workplace sexism?

Like the OP I feel like you're approaching this from the position that "the election must be presumed legitimate unless proved otherwise in a court of law" when the whole point of my reply is that no such obligation exists.

In America, we’ve long had national elections with low amounts of fraud. Our federal system makes it hard to rig national elections in any coordinated fashion.

So when there are allegations of rigged/stolen elections and no strong evidence is produced, it’s a safe bet people are lying.

You’re trying to make up some special standard of evidence for elections and I’m merely proposing we use the normal one of backing up claims with evidence.

A great deal of observation, documentation, recounting, investigation, and court cases shows the 2020 election almost certainly was not rigged or stolen.

The obligation that exists is simply basic epistemic rigor.

Trump, and many of his major promoters, don’t give a shit about epistemic rigor or good faith.

At least when the left lies to me they try to be subtle about it.

In America, we’ve long had national elections with low amounts of fraud.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

I don't think anyone can deny that 2020 was a bit of a special case. And maybe it's all just "vibes" but personally I find it telling that those most vocally in favor of "the new normal" and opposed to implementing more agressive election integrity measures are also those who ostensibly benefited from said "special case". What do you think Occam's Razor would have to say about that?.

I agree with you that 2020 was a special case due to Covid and that we should have higher voter registration checks and other such measures, which are consistently opposed by the left.

But Occam’s Razor applied here seems more likely to lead to the theory that in an election with incredibly high scrutiny, Trump was as full of BS about 2020 as he was about 2016 with unfounded claims of major fraud. Trump’s well-documented antics in Georgia support such a theory of Trump’s true concern not being “integrity” per se.

Taking in the entirety of the circumstances, the stark lack of hard evidence for claims made by Trump and others and their demonstrated track record of buffoonery easily overpowers any bias or shenanigans by the left for which there is actual evidence.

Your link up there applies more to Trump than anyone else by far, in other words.

Another way of looking at it is that you and others have presented theories and suggestive evidence that 2020 was rigged in some meaningful way against Trump, but I have definitive evidence Trump has lied in the past about election fraud, that he personally has sought to meddle in a state’s election, and that the particular cases advanced by his MAGA associates fell apart upon examination.

In Bayesian terms, this is not a hard case. Not until someone can really meet @ymeskhout’s challenge and provide a solid case for meaningful fraud, not just suggestive/circumstantial evidence and possibilities.

Looks like only one side of that bet has any epistemic skin in it.

I would be very interested to hear substantive reasons for why my theory is faulty or unreasonable!

You're missing the forest for the trees. There was a concerted effort to illegally influence the election. This manifested in many ways, mostly to do with mail-in-voting, and the evidence, if it ever existed, has been lost by now. You are focusing on details that don't matter, and have never mattered, instead of looking at what people have admitted, and what that means for what they will never admit.

This isn't what you wanted, of course. You want to argue like this is a court of law and pretend I didn't witness an obviously stolen election in real time. However, I will continue to trust my lying eyes. I don't care about TTV, and I don't care about their evidence. I saw what happened in Atlanta, in Philadelphia, in Detroit. I've been following the absolute shitshow in Arizona, whose elections were a fraud in 2022, too. If the courts are incapable of doing anything about it, I judge that to be a failure of the courts, and not of the charges, because I know the charges are true, and I won't be argued out of them.

The reason you get ire and downvotes is because you conspicuously highlight which side of the friend-enemy distinction you've chosen.

You are focusing on details that don't matter, and have never mattered, instead of looking at what people have admitted, and what that means for what they will never admit.

If they don't matter and never mattered, then the "mules" movie would not have been made, having been made would not have become popular, and having become popular, would not have been cited by commenters here as evidence that the election was stolen.

I also believe that the 2020 election was illegitimate. That belief does not preclude certain claims as to the specifics of its illegitimacy from being falsified.

If the courts are incapable of doing anything about it, I judge that to be a failure of the courts, and not of the charges, because I know the charges are true, and I won't be argued out of them.

Provably false claims of election interference do neither you nor I any favors, do they? Neither does a retreat to the unfalsifiable. My conclusion that the 2020 election was illegitimate does not stem from the "mules" movie or its claims, so debunkings of that film or its claims do not challenge my conclusions. Why should one think otherwise.

The reason you get ire and downvotes is because you conspicuously highlight which side of the friend-enemy distinction you've chosen.

People should not come here to read things that they agree with written by their friends. They should come here for sound arguments well-made. I think @ymeshkout's arguments have a glaring blindspot in them. But until I have the time and energy to make my case with evidence and arguments, he's under no obligation to make the case for me, and I have no right to object to him making other cases based on his own evidence and arguments.

He thinks this specific movie is lying. Why is he wrong? If he's not wrong, why would you object?

I don't know about KMC, but the things I saw were rules being changed in ways which favor Democrats, blatantly illegally, and the courts just kinda shrugging. But what convinced me that there was more than the usual fraud (over and above election rules changes) going on was the whole Georgia water main thing. The claim by the crazy fraud-claiming Republicans was it happened a certain way. The claimants were called paranoid conspiracy theorists. It turns out it went exactly that way. The people who called them conspiracy theorists tried to split hairs and also claim it didn't matter anyway, and of course that narrative carried the day.

But what convinced me that there was more than the usual fraud (over and above election rules changes) going on was the whole Georgia water main thing.

Rudy Giuliani had the perfect opportunity to present evidence of his claims when he was sued by the Georgia election workers for defamation, but he instead sandbagged and stumbled towards a default judgment. I think he acted that way because he knew he had no defense against defaming them. Do you think my conclusion is unreasonable?

Rudy Giuliani had the perfect opportunity to present evidence of his claims when he was sued by the Georgia election workers for defamation, but he instead sandbagged and stumbled towards a default judgment.

Which is to say he was denied the chance to present evidence of his claims in court through procedural legerdemain.

I think he acted that way because he knew he had no defense against defaming them. Do you think my conclusion is unreasonable?

Yes. I think the court acted that way to prevent him from defending himself. Because maintaining the appearance of integrity of elections is more important than maintaining their actual integrity, apparently.

That's interesting, how do you know that Giuliani actually had evidence to present instead of just bluffing? Assuming he had evidence, why didn't Giuliani just release the evidence elsewhere? I think the reason he didn't release evidence is because he was lying about having had evidence. Which part of my conclusion do you think is unreasonable?

That's interesting, how do you know that Giuliani actually had evidence to present instead of just bluffing?

I don't know what Giuliani had. I do know the court engaged in dirty tricks to prevent him from being able to use it to defend himself. I also know that regardless of what Giuliani had, the sequence of events described by the crazy conspiracy theorists in Georgia did in fact actually happen (and is no longer disputed).

So to loop it back, I said my theory for why Giuliani sandbagged his trial is because he didn't have the evidence he claimed he had. You claimed this was an unreasonable position to hold, but now you're saying that you don't know what evidence Giuliani had? If he hasn't released his evidence outside of court, do you still think it's unreasonable to think the man has been lying about that? At what point would you be willing to accept that explanation?

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Why do you think the 2020 election was illegitimate?

Very briefly, because there is more to legitimacy than the strict letter of the law, most notably when "the letter of the law" is so obviously dependent on adversarial interpretation. A number of laws were broken in the leadup to the election, and a number of misdeeds were committed that were very real, but were not adjudicated as crimes. My assessment is that the collective result of those actions is that rule of law and the democratic process were breached, and that those victimized by such actions should adjust their expectations and commitments accordingly.

I am pretty sure that @ymeshkhout is correct that many and perhaps all the dramatic claims of ballot fraud are either spurious or intentional lies. On the other hand, the FBI really did break the law to illegally spy on an opposition candidate, and the broader set of the FBI and their close associates coordinated with journalists to lie to the public about this and many other facts, in a direct attempt to influence the outcome of the election. That seems like fundamentally illegitimate behavior to me, and the fact that it happened undermines the legitimacy of the subsequent election process. When enough such incidents accumulate, as I observe they did in both the 2016 and 2020 elections, I think it is reasonable to conclude that the democratic process is not only threatened, but has in fact been compromised.

I think a lot of the support for dramatic fraud theories comes from people recognizing that something is badly wrong, and defaulting to the scripts that society and the media have provided them for what "wrongness" looks like. "election was illegitimate" > "ballot stuffing makes elections illegitimate" > "ballot stuffing happened." This combines with a fair amount of grifting by people seeking to exploit this tendency, along with the general tendency of large, complex, contentious issues to generate considerable amounts of FUD as a simple consequence of mass human friction, distrust, misinterpretation and bias. It seems to me that this tendency is entirely worthy of criticism; you have to have some way of separating the wheat from the chaff, or tribalism will devour you completely. If you are going to discuss the issue with people on the other side, that requires some measure of common ground, and actual, observable facts seem as good a place to start as any.

I think a lot of the support for dramatic fraud theories comes from people recognizing that something is badly wrong, and defaulting to the scripts that society and the media have provided them for what "wrongness" looks like.

This is likely the interpretation with the highest amount of charitability I'd be willing to co-sign on. But I do have a quibble about "the FBI really did break the law to illegally spy on an opposition candidate", are you talking about Trump? Edit: I got confused and forgot you were talking about 2020 instead of 2016, so I don't know what you're referring to here.

He walked back his claims about his campaign being wiretapped, claiming he didn't mean it literally. He said "I used the word ‘wiretap,’ and I put in quotes, meaning surveillance, spying you can sort of say whatever you want" and also that his allegation wasn't really based on any actual evidence but more on "a little bit of a hunch". His DOJ confirmed in a court filing they had no evidence of wiretapping.

Not “his DOJ”; the Deep State’s DOJ.

I’m being a bit snarky but I believe I am accurately representing the stance of those who won’t concede that say a lifelong Republican or Trump-appointed official can be a reliable source of anything that contradicts Trumpian vibes.

I also forgot we were talking about 2020, not 2016.