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Democracy

Philadelphia's Republican city commissioner has no time for Trump's tsunami of fraud lies

Philadelphia's Republican city commissioner has no time for Trump's tsunami of fraud lies
60 Minutes/Twitter, Diana O & Larry McM/Twitter

As President Trump continues to beat the drum of fraud and cheating with no solid evidence to back it up, and as many Republicans seem hell bent on sticking with Trump to the bitter end, there are some Republicans who are putting country—and reality—before party.

One of those Republicans is Philadelphia city commissioner Al Schmidt. He and his office are in charge of the vote count for the city, which has come under a huge microscope with Pennsylvania being the state that pushed Biden over the threshold of 270 electoral votes. Trump's team has been pushing hard to try to make Pennsylvania out to be a hotbed of corruption and illegal voting, but Schmidt says the allegations being made against Philadelphia's ballot counting have no basis in reality.



Schmidt was interviewed by 60 Minutes over the weekend, where he described the "crazy" things he's heard and how his office has been receiving death threats over it.

"From the inside looking out, it feels all very deranged," he said. "At the end of the day, we are counting eligible votes cast by voters. The controversy surrounding it is something I don't understand. It's people making accusations that we wouldn't count those votes, or people are adding fraudulent votes...just coming up with all sorts of crazy stuff."

Schmidt said they're getting "calls to our offices reminding us this is what the second amendment is for. People like us...for counting votes...in a democracy."

Despite the tsunami of misinformation floating around social media, including from the president of the United States, Schmidt is holding firm. Regardless of party or personal loyalty, truth comes first.

When CNN asked what evidence of any widespread fraud Schmidt had seen in the count in Philadelphia, he replied, "I have not. If evidence of widespread fraud—or evidence of any fraud at all—is brought to our attention, we take a look at it and we refer it to law enforcement, as we always do in every election."

"I have seen the most fantastical things on social media," Schmidt continued. "making completely ridiculous allegations that have no basis in fact at all, and see them spread. And I realize a lot of people are happy about this election, and a lot of people are unhappy about this election. One thing I can't comprehend is how hungry people are to consume lies and to consume information that is not true."

The CNN host asked him to clarify what information was not true, to which Schmidt replied, "Just the other day I saw something that had a long list of people that they said were dead voters who voted in Philadelphia. So when we took a break between everything else that we're doing, we looked it up, each one of them, to see what their vote history was. Not a single one of them voted in Philadelphia after they died. It's one of these things that kind of bounces around out there, that echoes around, that people say from one to another they heard something, or they heard from someone who saw something that they think might have been x, y, or z. And it's really impossible to keep up with those."

Schmidt is not alone.

The international delegation of election watchers Trump invited to witness our electoral process released a preliminary report saying that they were impressed by the conduct of our elections and chastised Trump for his baseless accusations of systemic fraud. The New York Times called election officials in all 50 states to find out what evidence they had seen of widespread fraud, and guess what. All the officials they spoke to, from both parties, said that no fraud or irregularities had played a role in the outcome of the election.

Irregularities do occur in every election, and there are systems in place for catching and remedying them. And every investigation into voter fraud—including Trump's own administration's Voter Fraud Commission—has found that no evidence of widespread fraud. Any individual instances of fraud that have been found amount to a miniscule fraction of a fraction of a percent of total legitimate votes. The case for fraud just isn't there.

And the accusation isn't benign. Right now, we have a president who is not just contesting the election results, but behaving as if it's a foregone conclusion that he's going to remain in power. He's vetting appointees for a second term. He's making sweeping changes in Pentagon leadership. He's undermining Americans' faith in our electoral system, which puts the safety and stability of our nation directly in harm's way.

The peaceful transfer of power is one of the defining elements of our democracy, a vital tradition that reminds us we have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. When the people have spoken at the ballot box, no matter who wins, the leaders of our government accept the result. In some elections, like Bush/Gore in 2000, results truly are so close that a challenge and recount is warranted. But we all know the legal challenges in this election aren't about a close count. With Biden's commanding lead of more than five million votes in the popular vote and winning key swing states by more than five figures, the result isn't that close.

This refusal to concede is 100% the emotional response of a malignant narcissist who is incapable of admitting defeat of any kind. It's the childish reaction of a man whose dad raised him to believe you're either a fighter or a loser, and it's not acceptable to be a loser. The fact that some prominent Republicans are coddling his delusions, feeding the misinformation machine that has led to millions of Americans not accepting an obvious result and undermining people's faith in our free and fair elections, is baffling and embarrassing, but it doesn't change the reality that Al Schmidt and other election officials keep reiterating.

Joe Biden is president-elect of the United States. And no amount of baseless allegations will change that.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

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