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upworthy

election 2020

By now most Americans have heard, or at least heard about, President Trump's hour-long phone call with Georgia's Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, in which the sitting president attempted to convince the official in charge of Georgia's election to "recalculate" and "find" him enough votes to overturn the state's results in his favor.

The criminal implications inherent in the asking aside, the phone call was filled with baseless allegations that the president has "heard" and that "Trump media" has been sharing. It's the constant drumbeat of the past two months—the counts are wrong, the machines were rigged, the votes were flipped, the ballots were counted multiple times, fake ballots were brought in, signatures weren't checked, the recount was wrong, the audit was corrupt, and so on and so on and so on. The breadth and depth of fraud allegations is stunning, which is exactly the point. One or two allegations are easily checked and either verified or debunked. Flooding media with every allegation in the book makes it 1) impossible to debunk due to the sheer volume, and 2) more likely that some of the allegations will be believed, regardless of actual evidence.

It's Steve Bannon's "flood the zone with sh*t" approach to handling the media, and unfortunately, it works.


However, at some point, people need to realize that the real experts on elections are the actual experts on elections. That's not the president of the United States. That's not random poll observers. That's not any of the Newsmax or OAN reporters. That's not any of the so-called "data scientists" (some of whom hilariously turn out to be Sean Hannity's producer) who make claims in non-binding hearings but not in court.

In the U.S., the people elected and appointed to serve as state election officials are the final authority on whether or not an election was run properly. (Unless a lawsuit leads to a court deciding that something went awry, of course. As of now, Trump's legal team and allies are 1 and 61 in court for election cases. The one case they won just allowed poll watchers to stand a few feet closer to the poll workers.)

One of those election officials, Republican Gabriel Sterling who serves as the Voting Systems Manager for the Secretary of State office in Georgia, spoke at a press conference today to set the record straight on the continued allegations.

"We've seen nothing in our investigations of any of these data claims that shows there are nearly enough ballots to change the outcome. And the secretary and I at this podium have said, since November 3rd, there is illegal voting in every single election in the history of mankind because there are human beings involved in the process. It's going to happen. So the question is limiting it and putting as many safeguards as you can in place to make sure that it doesn't happen."

Sterling mentioned the hand tally and the allegation that Dominion machines used "fractional voting" or flipped votes. "Again, by doing the hand tally, it shows none of that is true," he said. "Not a whit."

He also addressed the overall claims about the Dominion voting systems, pointing out that in the counties in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that used Dominion voting machines, Trump actually won a majority of the vote. Then he debunked the idea that 900,000 votes had been deleted, as that would have meant a mathematically impossible turnout to begin with.

"Again, this is all easily, provably false," he said. "Yet the president persists."


Regarding Trump's allegation that some part of the Dominion machines were being switched out, Sterling said, "This one I don't fully understand. No one is changing parts or pieces out of Dominion voting machines. That's not -- I don't even know what that means. That's not a real thing. That's not happening. The president mentioned it on the call...from two days ago. That's, again, not real. I don't even know how exactly to explain that."

Visual aids are always helpful, so there was also a CLAIM vs. FACT poster displayed next to Sterling as he spoke that gave specific responses to specific numbers claims. Why people just believe numbers they see online instead of going to the source—again, the actual election officials—to see the actual, verified numbers is a bit baffling, yet here we are. Here's a close-up of the poster:

Again, Sterling is a Republican (as is Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, as Georgia's governor Brian Kemp, all of whom stand by Georgia's election result). He wanted Trump to win. He mentioned that Trump's allegations might be discouraging people from turning out to vote—especially Republicans who might be convinced that the election system is so flawed that there's no point in participating in it.

"Everybody's vote is going to count," Sterling said. "Everybody's vote did count."

Sterling referred to his press conference as yet another "Whack-a-mole" event, alluding to the fact that he has had to debunk these allegations over and over again, one at a time, for two months since the election. At one point he said he had screamed at his computer when he heard an allegation that's been debunked many, many times. So many of the "suspicious" allegations of fraud we've heard in testimonies and read in affidavits are just normal vote collecting and tallying processes that lay observers simply don't know are normal.

The poor guy sounded like an exasperated parent who's having to lecture their teenager about something they already should know for the hundredth time. Can't really blame him. It's exhausting to constantly battle a flood of misinformation and disinformation, especially when it's coming from the president himself.

You can watch the entire press conference here:

Georgia Secretary Of State's Office Holds Press Conference | NBC Newswww.youtube.com

On Tuesday night, the Wayne County, Michigan Board of Canvassers gave half the country a minor heart attack when it appeared that the four board members were deadlocked on certifying the vote count. Wayne County is home to Detroit, the largest city in the state and the city with the highest percentage of Black voters in the country. Delaying the certification for a county that handed Biden tens of thousands of votes over Trump would disrupt the entire electoral process—which is exactly what Trump is trying to do.

The Board of Canvassers, who are in charge of certifying the vote count for the county, was split 2-2 along party lines (such a shocker) with the Democrats for and the Republicans against certifying the vote count right up until the final hours before the deadline. The two Republican members, after hearing passionate commentary from the public, changed course and voted in the final hour to move forward with certification. The vote for Wayne County has officially been certified and sent to the secretary of state.

However, in another not-shocking development, however, both of the Republican board members have released signed documents saying that they wish to rescind their agreement to certify. This comes after GOP board member Monica Palmer received a phone call from President Trump.


According to the Washington Post, Palmer claims that the president called to ask her about her safety in the wake of alleged harassment she had received. Surely that's 100% why he was calling and not at all to try to convince her that she shouldn't have certified the vote count. Surely him talking about her safety was not any kind of a veiled mafioso-like threat—that would be as insane as insisting you won an election that you clearly lost and making up crazy global conspiracy theories in an attempt to cling to the power you so desperately crave. And surely he wasn't trying to pressure her into rescinding her vote—that would be as corrupt as attempting to delay the certifications in swing states, push the elector decisions to GOP-led legislatures, create a chaotic picture of widespread fraud, and get the Supreme Court to wipe out the election results and rule in your favor because you think picking three judges and having a conservative majority means that they will automatically crown you the victor.

The whole no-yes-no flip-flopping is a rather pathetic display of partisan ugliness and Trump sycophancy to any objective observer, but of course that's not how Palmer is portraying it. She insists that there was no pressure from the president—as if a phone call itself from the country's highest office who also happens to be a candidate in the race she's certifying isn't pressure in and of itself. When asked by the Washington Post if they discussed the certification in their two-minute phone call, Palmer said, "It's hard for me to describe. There was a lot of adrenaline and stress going on. There were general comments about different states but we really didn't discuss the details of the certification."

Not sure what "general comments about different states" means—why would the president call a Wayne County, Michigan canvassing board member and discuss states other than Michigan? It's all totally moot anyway—legally the vote has been certified and rescinding on paper doesn't change that—but trying to make any of it makes sense is enough to make you batty.

But making us batty is probably the point. Trump appears to be taking Steve Bannon's "flood the zone with sh*t" approach to the media, but also applying it to our electoral process. It doesn't matter if he's 1–29 in post-election court cases. It doesn't matter if the legal team keeps getting replaced with kookier and kookier players. It doesn't matter if every statement the president has made since the election is a bold-faced lie or a repeat of fringe right-wing media conspiracy theories. The chaos and confusion are the point. If you create an atmosphere of doubt and suspicion, paint a picture so outrageous and so evil that it seems like there's no way someone would make something like that up, keep engendering distrust in actual journalism that serves as a check on those in power, and you can almost make a case for just tossing the whole election out due to the chaos you yourself created.

Of course, this damages the U.S. in immeasurable ways, but who cares about the damage done to the country as long as Trump's narcissistic needs are met? That's where we are. And far too many Republicans are going along with the madness, naively waiting for a president who is incapable of admitting defeat to finally admit defeat, and foolishly ignoring the monster their coddling of his ego is creating in the body politic in the meantime.

Wayne county's flip-flopping is just one of many more nutty things we can expect to see in the coming weeks as certification deadlines loom. Trump is not going to miraculously concede the election, ever, and he will pull as many people along on his power trip as he can. Let's just hope the country's foundation can hold out long enough for the will of the people to prevail as it should and for sanity to return to the Oval Office.

All eyes have been on Georgia since election night, as a once-red stronghold tipped blue in the presidential race—securing a solid electoral victory for Joe Biden—and resulted in two run-off elections in the U.S. Senate races. And as President Trump continues to rage against the results and insist on trying to find widespread fraud where there is none (as evidenced by his 1 and 25 record with lawsuits so far, with the one being a procedural issue and not evidence of fraud), all eyes have been on Georgia's vote recount.

So far, the recount effort had turned up some missing votes in Republican-led counties resulting from human error. Nothing even close enough to the 14,000 votes it would take to sway the election results and nothing proving fraud in any way, but that doesn't stop Trump and his base from trying to spin it that way.

Refreshingly, throughout all of this madness, Georgia's secretary of state Brad Raffensperger—a lifelong Republican who says he has never voted for a Democrat—has held his ground to keep Georgia's election integrity intact. In fact, as the official who oversees elections in the state, the mild-mannered secretary of state been standing up to those who would try to politicize his position from his own party for months.


According to a ProPublica report, the Trump campaign had offered him a position as an honorary co-chair of the campaign in Georgia in January, which Raffensperger declined. "It is our standard practice not to endorse any candidate," the deputy secretary of state wrote in response to the offer. "This policy is not directed at any specific candidate, but all candidates, as the Secretary oversees elections and the implementation of new voting machines here in Georgia."

The GOP then tried to get him to publicly support Trump. In fact, as ProPublica reports, senior Trump campaign adviser Billy Kirkland "burst uninvited into a meeting in Raffensperger's office in the late spring that was supposed to be about election procedures and demanded that the secretary of state endorse Trump, according to Raffensperger and two of his staffers." Raffensperger refused, on the belief that he should remain neutral as the official running the election.

Kirkland crashed another meeting prior to the June primary, again pressuring Raffensperger to endorse Trump. After reiterating that he would not do so as it would be a conflict of interest, Kirkland reportedly said, "We'll see how helpful you are in November," to Raffensperger's staffers before slamming the door behind him as he left.

And now, as Republican lawmakers in Georgia call for his resignation—over doubts about the election that they themselves are peddling—Raffensperger is unwavering in his dedication to do the job the people of Georgia elected him to do without putting his thumb on the scales for any side.

But the pressure keeps coming.

In an incredibly alarming move, South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham reportedly phoned Raffensperger and asked him if there were a way for him to exclude all mail-in ballots cast in counties with high levels of signature discrepancies, which would include tossing out perfectly legal votes. Two of Raffensperger's aides who witnessed the call corroborated the nature of the call and were appalled by the request.

But still, Raffensperger is insistent upon the process playing out as it's supposed to. He ordered the recount and audit of the state elections. He is making sure that errors in counting—which happen in practically every single election—are rectified. He is fighting back against what he calls "clear retaliation" from the president for not publicly supporting him and from other members of his party who are trying to appease Trump.

"They thought Georgia was a layup shot Republican win," Raffensperger said, according to ProPublica. "It is not the job of the secretary of state's office to deliver a win — it is the sole responsibility of the Georgia Republican Party to get out the vote and get its voters to the polls. That is not the job of the secretary of state's office."

This is what public service should be—placing objectivity before partisan pressure and the good of the country before the good of the party. Thank you, Mr. Raffensperger for reminding us that integrity can and does exist in our political system.







We're on day eleventy billion of Donald Trump creating his own alternate reality and convincing millions of people to live there with him, only now it's clearer than ever that it can't continue. President Trump, perhaps for the first time in his life, is hitting a wall he can't con or buy his way through. He lost the 2020 election. His own cybersecurity and election security agencies have said the election was fair and free from widespread fraud. His court cases are being dismissed or dropped left and right. Yet he refuses to acknowledge objective reality, insisting that Democrats cheated (without evidence), insisting he won the election (which he didn't), insisting two plus two doesn't equal four (which his loyal base would believe if he said it).

Trump's reaction to losing the election is a combination of disturbing, sad, predictable, and dangerous. At this point, we can't just brush it off as "Trump being Trump." Trump is president of the United States. His words matter. His tweets matter. His behavior matters. A sitting president delegitimizing the foundation of our democracy matters. It all matters.

Former president Barack Obama has some advice for President Trump, elicited by a question asked of him in a 60 Minutes interview this weekend. Trump will definitely not heed it, but the rest of us should hear it to remind us of what it means to lead this country. When asked, "What is your advice, in this moment, for President Trump?" Obama reminded us of what a president is and what his or her responsibility boils down to.


"A president is a public servant," he said. "They are temporary occupants of the office, by design. And when your time is up, then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego and your own interests and your own disappointments. My advice to President Trump is if you want, at this late stage in the game, to be remembered as somebody who put country first, it's time for you to do the same thing."

When asked if it was his view that it was time for Trump to concede, Obama replied, "Absolutely. I think it was time for him to concede the day after the election, or at the latest two days after the election. When you look at the numbers objectively, Joe Biden will have won handily. There is no scenario in which any of those states would turn the other way, and certainly not enough to reverse the outcome of the election."

First of all, let's just take a moment to acknowledge the full, coherent sentences. Never thought that's something we'd need to point out, but here we are. Next, let's appreciate how Obama took the high road here to remind us of our collective relationship with the office of the presidency. He could have called Trump a big ol' diaper baby who is behaving more like a toddler in need of a nap than a president. But that's not Obama's style. Instead, he reminded us that office is bigger than any one person. The person in the office is there to serve us, and when the people have spoken, their job is to abide by the will of the majority.

Here in objective reality, there's no question that Trump lost the election. He's tried to take his fraud claims to court, purportedly to make sure we had a free and fair election, and that's fine. But without evidence—actual evidence, not conspiracy theories about voting machine companies or complaints about the normal process—those lawsuits aren't going anywhere.

Unfortunately, far too many Republican leaders are going along with Trump's delusions, which is really something to witness. Trump's reaction was 100% predictable, and at this point the sycophancy perhaps should be as well, but it's still incredibly disturbing. Not only is it just dumb, it's dangerous to our democracy. The safety and stability of our nation depend on a peaceful transfer of power. There's a process in place for that, and Trump is impeding it.

Some Republicans have begun speaking out as the truth becomes more and more obvious. But the longer they wait, the more ingrained the misinformation becomes in the minds of Trump's base.

It is vital that we state clearly and unequivocally that this is not normal. The president is undermining a free and fair election, period. He's putting American security at risk, period. He's tearing at the fabric of America with his narcissistic delusions of grandeur and inability to admit defeat like a mature adult. And the worst part is that he's convincing millions of Americans to do the same thing.

Enough is enough. The president is a public servant and the public—as in every presidential election prior to this one—has made their choice at the ballot box. It's time to end this embarrassing display right now before more irreparable damage is done.