At this polarized moment in our country, there’s something I think we can all agree on: Let’s investigate every possible instance of illegal voting. Let’s dig in, and really get the evidence on the table, for everybody to see.
Come to think of it, this should be something Joe Biden prioritizes as the incoming president. Get together a serious bunch of investigators to look into it. Make them report to a panel of serious people from both parties.
I use “serious” to differentiate from the kooks or the politicians who cynically use the “voting fraud” issue to scare up votes, particularly in Republican primaries. I’m referring to our own Kris Kobach, and of course Donald Trump himself. They have paraded around with that allegation for years, but could never find any evidence at all. I also have no time for the far-left people who see the Kochs hiding under every rock.
You can tell that I’m dubious that anybody will find anything about voting fraud this time, either, and I’ll freely admit that. That’s because there’s never been any consequential evidence, and because in my 30 years as a journalist I’ve found that conspiracy theories nearly always fall apart upon close inspection. And when I say “nearly always,” what I mean is: Always.
But let’s really dig in. Appoint the best possible investigators. Put together a panel with, say, Pat Roberts and Lamar Alexander and Tom Udall, all retiring U.S. Senators, to head it up. Give them whatever they need. And sure, let Mr. Trump have some sort of representation on the panel. But let’s have all the evidence and information out for public view, so that Mr. Trump’s camp can’t parade around with some secret list, in the style of Joe McCarthy.
If there are real irregularities that they can substantiate in the next 30 days, then perhaps we’ll create a constitutional crisis. I have no idea where that would go. It could be extremely consequential, but that’s nothing, relatively speaking.
What really matters is faith in our system. Without a serious look at it, right now, immediately, we will be having this debate for at least the next four years. Donald Trump will become a martyr to the cause, more powerful in his political death than he was in life. That will warp the Republican Party into a destructive force, possibly for many years.
With a real investigation, what we’re likely to get is evidence that the system works awfully well. If there are problems, what will come from all of it is some suggestions about fixing the way elections work, nuts-and-bolts stuff that states can adopt to improve their processes. If it takes federal money to help them make those changes, so be it.
There are many serious problems for the country to address — the pandemic, race relations, the economy, and others — but none more serious than our faith in our system of elections. The current president is saying things that shake that faith. We cannot go down that path any further without a full airing of the evidence.