“How to Know if the Election Is Actually ‘Rigged’”

This is a must-read piece from Ned Foley on the importance of recognizing the difference between problems in the election process — which social media will inevitably amplify — and issues that would actually cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election:

All elections have flaws. And in today’s environment of mistrust, it’s easy for politicians to exploit those flaws to cast doubt on the whole result. When problems inevitably arise this fall — and when the two sides inevitably raise objections — then the loser, the loser’s party and the American people need to be prepared to know whether there truly is cause for some kind of recount or “redo,” or whether to accept the electoral verdict and move on. What should we look for?…

No one likes to lose, especially not when the stakes are perceived to be so high. But in any election, only one side can win. America already fought a Civil War because the losing side in the 1860 election was unwilling to accept defeat. One of the Union’s central reasons for fighting that war, as Abraham Lincoln reminded the nation at Gettysburg, was that the project of self-government declared in 1776 could not “endure” if the losing side in an election simply can walk away when it does not like the election’s outcome.

This year, the same proposition could be tested again. If either side cannot abide the other’s victory, self-government — government of, by and for the people — may perish here, if not elsewhere. For self-government to work, it is essential to be able to say when all the available evidence shows that “a lack of votes, not a theft of votes” is what caused the losing side’s defeat.

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