Accuracy in Media

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, Republican candidates are stealing from President Trump’s discredited playbook if they question how election officials continue to add votes to their opponents’ totals long after Day,

“Two Orange County Republicans facing the prospect of defeat in the Nov. 6 congressional election as final ballots are counted have adopted President Trump’s tactic of making baseless allegations of vote fraud,” reads the lead of reporter Michael Finnegan’s “Republicans Walters and Kim adopt Trump tactic of charging vote fraud with no evidence of wrongdoing.” 

The counts are continuing, state officials refuse to call for any investigations into potential wrongdoing and vote totals continue to change in favor of Democratic candidates.

“Neither GOP Rep. Mimi Walters nor Republican candidate Young Kim has produced evidence to back up their charges that Democrats are trying to steal the election,” the piece said. “County registrars of voters supervising the ballot counts said they knew of no one doing anything that would compromise the election’s integrity.”

The Republicans “leveled their accusations after they steadily lost ground in the continuing tabulation of tens of thousands of ballots,” the Times wrote.

Walters, who was ahead on election night, is now nearly 4,000 votes behind thanks to continued counting, and Kim clings to a 122-vote lead, the Times reported.

Finnegan then cites a series of “non-partisan election watchdogs,” whom he said are “appalled” that these candidates would raise questions about post-election vote altering that overwhelmingly favored their opponents.

“’The tone has been set at the top,’’ he quotes Stephen Spaulding, chief of strategy at the leftist group Common Cause as saying. “’I think it’s reckless. It is irresponsible.’”

Harvard professor Daniel Ziblatt had another take.

“People need to learn to lose and accept the results and move on to the next campaign. If people don’t believe in the legitimacy of elections and start acting that way, then the whole thing can disintegrate rather rapidly.”

Ziblatt argued in a January opinion piece in The Guardian that “American failed the first [of preserving democracy] in November 2016, when we elected a president with a dubious allegiance to democratic norms. Donald Trump’s surprise victory was made possible not only by public disaffection but also by the Republican party’s failure to keep an extremist demagogue within its own ranks from gaining the nomination.”

The Times assumed the refusal of Walters and Kim campaigns to comment constituted a lack of evidence. And besides, they should know by now vote totals will be changed late in the California electoral process, and the changes always will help Democrats.

“In California elections, it’s a firmly established pattern that the votes counted last almost always favor Democrats,” Finnegan wrote. “The most reliably Republican voters – a shrinking share of the state’s electorate – tend to be older white homeowners who send in their ballots before most other Californians do.”

The candidates were engaging in dangerous rhetorical warfare, the Times charged. It pointed to a Walters email to supporters asking for more money to stop Democrats from “’overturning the will of the voters.’”

“’I’m currently up by 1 point, but the Democrats are already preparing for a recount to try and steal this Republican seat after the fact,’” she wrote.

Kim was criticized for an email to supporters that said, “Anything falling significantly outside of those percentages could reflect foul play and we will continue observing closely to make sure the integrity of this election remains intact,” she wrote on Twitter.

It finished with a quote from Jim Condos, president of the National Association of Secretaries of State and the Democratic secretary of state for Vermont: “Words do matter. I think it’s unconscionable and irresponsible to be making accusations and threats without any evidence behind it.”

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