Republicans, now the party of QAnon, are going to point to typical election errors as signs of a grand conspiracy

Nov 10, 2020 at 8:00 am
click to enlarge Trump supporters gathered in Detroit last week to protest the election. - Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling
Trump supporters gathered in Detroit last week to protest the election.

Michigan's Republican Party appears to be going full-steam ahead with its latest conspiracy theory: that the 2020 election was rigged against President Donald Trump.

So far, it's not going very well.

Last week, a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Trump's campaign for having no legal basis. A viral video that showed a mysterious black box being hauled into an election site that must have been some sort of proof of malfeasance was later revealed to merely be a local TV station's camera equipment. Absentee ballots were alleged to have been backdated to be before the election deadline, but the Detroit elections director has an explanation for what really happened. On Saturday, the Michigan GOP met for an unusual Saturday hearing where they doubled down on their strategy, voting to investigate the alleged fraud by issuing subpoenas and creating a hotline for collecting tips. On Monday, the Trump team filed an appeal for its tossed case, but it did not have sufficient paperwork to move forward.

As of now, the Republicans' alleged plot against America seems to be more of a fishing expedition to find evidence of a plot against America. And it's a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: the GOP reportedly sent an army of novice poll challengers to Detroit's TCF Center, which was being used as an absentee voter ballot counting facility, to look for fraud. But many didn't even seem to know what they were looking for, with one newbie telling Bridge that several GOP poll challengers said they were instructed by Republican attorneys to just "challenge every ballot." The Republican poll challengers were also reportedly loud and unruly, and many were not wearing masks, which led to some getting kicked out, which led to accusations that they were being blocked from access. Now, those same novice challengers will call the Michigan GOP tip hotline with their misinformed claims, and the Michigan GOP will then seize upon those claims as proof that something fishy is going on, creating an ouroboros of fake news.

Nevermind the fact that even prominent Republican officials are saying there's nothing to see here.

Republican Tina Barton, the City Clerk of the City of Rochester Hills, debunked a claim made by Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel that 2,000 Republican ballots were "given to Democrats" due to a clerical error. Barton admitted there was a clerical error, but said it was quickly rectified as soon as it was discovered.

"There were no missing ballots," she said in a video posted to Twitter. "The accusation that 2,000 ballots were 'found' is categorically false. As a Republican, I am disturbed that this is intentionally being mischaracterized to undermine the election process."

She added, "I stand by our reported results."

In Kent County, a typically Republican stronghold that flipped for Joe Biden, County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons — who ran as GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette's running mate in 2018 — maintained that their election was fair and square.

"We've just got a lot of checks and balances and transparency here in Michigan, and in Kent County we take that very seriously," she told the Detroit News. "I am 100% confident in the results in Kent County, and I'm confident that our canvass, once its all concluded, will validate that."

Here's the thing about elections: they aren't 100% perfect. Next up is a routine canvassing process in which Michigan's unofficial votes are certified by a hand count. It is possible — and even likely — that some human and machine errors will be rooted out at this time. It is, however, unlikely to change many votes. Biden earned nearly 150,000 more votes than Trump in Michigan; in the Senate race, Democrat Gary Peters got more than 80,000 votes than Republican John James. These were not close races in the way that recounts typically alter.

Of course, we can expect Trump supporters to seize upon any glitch or irregularity as a sign of some of sort of grand conspiracy against the President. This is the party, after all, that rallied behind Trump after he peddled the baseless conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and therefore illegitimate, and eventually allowed itself to be infiltrated by QAnon believers, who allege there were clues to a Satanic pedophile sex trafficking ring in leaked Democratic Party emails.

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. At this point, the GOP seems to think it has no other choice than to just keep swinging.

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