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What Exactly Is a Rigged Election?

Donald Trump keeps claiming that the 2020 election was rigged against him and the media keep quoting him on this. What does this mean, really? According to Ned Foley at Election Law Blog, the media are missing a key point by muddling two different claims.

True "rigging" would involve stuffing ballot boxes, having noncitizens vote, preventing certain citizens from voting, throwing away ballots in specific precincts, allowing the wrong electoral votes to be counted, and things like that. All of these are illegal. If government officials did anything like this, that would indeed constitute "rigging." There were 62 court cases in 2020 in nine states about this. Trump lost 61 of them. His only win was a minor one about how much time Pennsylvania voters had to cure invalid ballots and even that win was later overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

On the other hand, things like Russian trolls in St. Petersburg disseminating fake information, tricksters convincing some voters that the election had been postponed until Wednesday due to bad weather, and state laws banning bystanders from giving people standing in line to vote free bottles of water do not constitute "rigging." Nor is the existence of the Electoral College "rigging." The founders fully intended to give the small states extra power to get them to sign up and join the union. These are merely dirty pool, they aren't illegal government actions designed to prevent eligible voters from voting or allowing ineligible people to vote.

Donald Trump constantly conflates the two categories. The media do the country a disservice by not calling him on it. (V)

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