A few days ago, I tweeted this:
My point was that the appellant what is apparently happened in the 9th North Carolina Convention District "Electoral Fraud" would confer unjustified legitimacy on President Trump and other Republican claims of widespread electoral fraud across the country. This would suggest that it was possible – unjustifiably.
But my colleague Philip Bump, as he is used to doing, has taken a different view. He thinks it's important to note that Trump's allegations about millions of illegal votes in the 2016 election are totally unfounded, denying him what's wrong. is apparently produced in North Carolina is that "electoral fraud" is too cute. He thinks this distinction is rather meaningless.
So we debated on Slack. This is the debate.
BUMP: I do not agree with Aaron
BLAKE: This is completely out of character.
BUMP: You are wrong? Not really.
I just think it's silly to call Trump's allegations "electoral fraud" and then procrastinate, since his false accusation involves orchestrated efforts to vote, of which the alleged voter is unaware. What is the real difference?
BLAKEHe said the votes were real, but they were illegal: the actual vote is changed / modified.
BUMP: It does not make sense.
In Trump's scenario, Person A, organized by Group 1, claims to be Person B and votes for Candidate C.
In this case, the person X, organized by the group 2, takes the ballot of the person B and modifies it to vote for the candidate Z.
What is the difference?
BLAKE: Person A is a voter who has committed fraud.
Person X changes Person B's legitimate vote instead of voting fraudulently.
BUMP: This is a senseless distinction.
BLAKE: In one case, the actual voter does the fraud.
The fact is that it should be detectable in person. The other would never be.
Although I understand your point of view, Trump is talking about a large-scale effort, rather than just people voting illegally.
BUMP: That's why the modifier "in person" exists!
BLAKE: Electoral fraud = the voter committing a fraud.
Option 2 is not that.
BUMP: How is person A an elector when person X is not?
BLAKE: Person X is not the elector.
BUMP: Everyone votes for another person.
BLAKE: Person X changes the ballot of an existing elector.
BUMP: Person A is not Person B either.
BLAKE: Person A votes literally, though; they are an elector, even illegitimate.
BUMP: If I am not registered and I vote for you illegally, why is it different from what I take your ballot and fill it for you?
BLAKE: Because in the first case, the voter commits a fraud.
BUMP: Who is the "person" you are referring to? And you make fun of me?
BLAKE: I'm not! This is person A.
BUMP: Answer my question using me as an example.
BLAKE: It's tiring.
BUMP: Because you are wrong.
BLAKE: No, I just can not continue to prove that I'm right enough for you.
The problem is that voter fraud is the fraud committed by voters.
The vote is changed in the second case. The voter is a victim of fraud, not the author.
In addition, the first case could be detectable in real time if precautions are taken.
BUMP: Answer my question by taking me as an example.
BLAKE: If you enter and vote in my name, you are a real voter who commits fraud.
If you take my ballot and change it, I am the same elector and you deceive me.
I understand that you think it's a distinction without difference. The problem is whether the voter commits fraud: in option A, they are; not in option B though.
Can I watch football now?
BUMP: Yes, but it does not make sense.
And you associate "voting" with being at the polling station.
BLAKE: No. The person who votes.
BUMP: If I come to the polling station to steal the ballot and fill it in, it's no longer an election fraud, but if I go there and pretend to be yourself, is it?
BLAKE: This is election fraud because you vote in my name. I have not voted yet.
In the case of absentees, they voted – even if the vote was not counted – and that vote was changed.
BUMP: So if [Leslie McRae] Dowless takes the ballot even before it is filled, it is an electoral fraud. But if a party is fulfilled, it is an electoral fraud?
BLAKEIf the voter voted or if he thinks he did, and it changes, it is an election fraud.
(PAUSE THAT PHILIP PUMP HIS SON TO SLEEP)
BLAKE: I'll take this as a concession
BUMP: So this is ultimately your reason to insist on electoral fraud as a term against electoral fraud.
BLAKE: Correct. One is someone who commits fraud during an election; the other is a voter who commits a fraud.
BUMP: But this distinction does not make sense.
Go watch the sport of garbage.
BLAKE: I realize you do not think so, but I also realize that you are often wrong. So…
Why should not electoral fraud be committed by a real voter? It's literally the phrase!
BUMP: This is the bad, bad delimitation that makes no sense.
The delimitation I finally made for you is at least a distinction that exists.
BLAKE: But you do not dispute that it's a delimitation?
I do not discuss the fact that the efforts could be similar and that this could be a distinction without much difference in some cases, but for me, "electoral fraud" implies that people can vote themselves and that they are fraudulent. This suggests a problem with the system different from that of someone who takes legal ballots and modifies them before they are counted.
It's like writing a fraudulent check against someone who takes your check before it is cashed and is superimposed on their name. The first type of fraud concerns the person who writes it. The second is on someone else and may not be instantly detectable.
BUMP: This distinction will collapse under no real control. But I think the biggest problem is the motivation that many people have to insist on here for uncompromising differentiation. There is no widespread electoral fraud in person, despite the predominantly Republican insistence. We have written several times to emphasize it. While I agree that "electoral fraud" is flawed, the effort to reintegrate North Carolina into a new term is more like an effort to avoid explaining the difference between in-person and absentee fraud, rather than a real distinction.