Thanks in part to Chief Justice John Roberts and a deadlocked Supreme Court vote last month that upheld a Pennsylvania state Supreme Court decision regarding late-arriving mail-in ballots, America has now come face-to-face with two venerable sayings about political power: “It’s not who votes, but who counts the votes,” and “quis custodiet ipsos custodies,” or “who watches the watchmen?”
It isn’t like we weren’t warned.
In a push to make voting more “inclusive” and “easier,” Election Day has given way to early voting, absentee voting, mail-in voting, even late voting. Ballots can arrive well ahead of the statutory date of the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and—as we’re now learning in the case of Pennsylvania—up to three days afterward with pretty much no questions asked.
It doesn’t even matter if the ballots don’t have a clear postmark proving they were mailed in time; they still have to be counted unless it can be somehow proven that they missed the mailing deadline.
As morning dawned on Nov. 4, President Donald Trump was sitting on a 600,000-vote lead in the lynchpin state of Pennsylvania, and yet the networks and the newspapers and The Associated Press adamantly refused to call the state for him, citing up to a million outstanding votes. In fact, poll workers in Philadelphia simply knocked off in the middle of the night and said they’d come back the next day to finish the job.
Meanwhile, the journalists’ refusal to call other crucial states in which Trump had been leading all day—North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin—also kept the election in limbo, even as the media was certifying any number of other states (Virginia, California) before even one ballot had been counted.
Then, sure enough, under cover of darkness, the Wisconsin totals suddenly tilted in Joe Biden’s favor about 4 a.m. on Nov. 4, as absentee and early ballots—some 170,000 of them—suddenly came in from Milwaukee and, presto!, Biden was miraculously up by 20,000 votes.
We’ve seen this movie before, two years ago in California when late-arriving votes wiped out the Orange County, California, Republican congressional delegation. But the Democratic playbook had in fact been in evidence years earlier, when close gubernatorial and senatorial elections in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Washington state were reversed long after the voting should have stopped and the Democrats won every time.
So Trump was right to say in his 2 a.m. speech on Nov. 4 that these practices are an open invitation to fraud. In fact, they are fraud: Halt the count for hours or even days when your opponent is ahead in order to find out how many more votes your party needs, and then suddenly “find” them in locked offices and the trunks of parked cars. The Democrats have been using this trick since Mayor Richard Daley delivered Illinois for JFK in 1960.
Trump may still eke this election out: His margin in Pennsylvania would appear to be far too great to overcome, even if Democrat machine munchkins worked all night to “find” and count more ballots. But even if he wins Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia, his likely losses in Nevada and Arizona—thanks, Cindy McCain!—mean he’s still going to need either Michigan or Wisconsin to put him over the top.
In his wee hours speech, Trump mentioned taking the Pennsylvania issue back to the high court, this time including new Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Should the court rule that the state’s action in accepting ballots of dubious provenance ex post facto was illegal (as it should), the Democrats will use the ruling to continue to cast doubts on Barrett’s legitimacy and accuse the Republicans of fraud.
By voting with the three liberals on Oct. 19 to let Pennsylvania’s rabidly partisan court decision to at least temporarily stand, Roberts has once again put the “reputation” of the court ahead of the law and common sense and thrown the country into needless turmoil. As he showed in his self-reversal that saved Obamacare in 2012, Roberts is a weak man, easily influenced by media and Beltway opinion.
We’ve also learned that the national media, including the social networks, can’t be trusted with refereeing elections. Had Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia been called in a timely fashion on Nov. 3, the voting in the Western states such as Arizona might well have been different. But by mulishly refusing to admit the obvious (Florida and Ohio were called very late, even though it was clear Trump had won them), the media strung out the election just long enough for the Democrats vote-counters to work their mischief.
In the end, Trump may pull it out; all he needs is for his remaining leads to hold up, whether at the polls or in the courts. But the fact that the United States of America can’t conduct an orderly national election with uniform standards across the country is a national disgrace. True, the Constitution leaves it up to the states to set the rules for their elections, but perhaps it’s time for a change. Election law has been modified many times since ratification, by the 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th amendments. Time for another one.
Michael Walsh is the editor of The-Pipeline.org and the author of “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace” and “The Fiery Angel,” both published by Encounter Books. His latest book, “Last Stands,” a cultural study of military history from the Greeks to the Korean War, will be published in December by St. Martin’s Press.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.