Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

A sad investigation into voter fraud

30th January 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Rev. Susan K. Smith
Guest Columnist

The new president of the United States authorized an investigation into his unsubstantiated allegation that there was massive voter fraud in the 2016 election.

Though he won the election in the Electoral College by a hefty margin, the president has repeatedly said, in light of his loss of the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes, that he only lost the popular vote because of voter fraud. His claim is that literally millions of undocumented people voted and of course, were not authorized to do so.

This is an investigation he has ordered, despite the fact that none of his beliefs and allegations have a basis in fact, while he has sidestepped ordering an investigation into the hacking of the election by the Russians, which American intelligence agencies say did, in fact, happen.

There is a lot that is troubling about this, but one of the glaring insults is that in American history, voter fraud under the guise of racism, (and sexism) has long been the norm. It was the cause for much protest, much of it violent because of those seeking the right to vote being attacked by law enforcement, violence which resulted in the deaths of many people. The debacle on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where Congressman John Lewis, then a very young man, was beaten nearly to death, helped spur the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, an act which for years protected African Americans from fraudulent requirements to vote shelled out by federal, state and local government.

It is troubling that the new president, even in his attacks of Congressman Lewis in response to Lewis’ stated belief that this new president was and is not legitimate, seems not to care about the truth and this history of real voter fraud in this country, but has jumped into and has insisted upon, these baseless accusations of voter fraud in the present day, even though he won the election.

During his campaign, he accused the system of being “rigged,” attacking the Electoral College, but has demurred since that very body provided him the votes necessary to get to the White House. Now, it seems that his ego is bruised because he didn’t win the popular vote and for that reason, is launching this investigation.

It is a waste of time and taxpayer money, and it feels like part of an overall strategy being formulated to devise policies which will further erode the right to vote of people who are already marginalized in that capacity by government-approved policies.

What would happen if the investigation showed that there was, in fact, voter fraud, but that the fraud was on the part of people on the president’s side of the dividing line between Right and Left? If results showed that the president in fact lost votes that have been given to him and that because of that, he actually did not win the presidency, what would he do? My guess is that he would say the investigation itself was a fraud.

The first few days of this administration have been emotionally draining, not because, as some say, people are “sore losers.” Yes, there is always disappointment when either “side” loses, but that is normal.

What has been demoralizing is this president’s fixation on him and his ego, accompanied by a lack of sensitivity to so many people. His rhetoric is no different than it was on the campaign trail. He has openly lied, as when he said he was never non-supportive of the American intelligence community, and his ego has made him unable to accept that the number of people at his inauguration may not have been as many as were at President Obama’s inauguration, or clearly, not nearly as many as attended the Women’s March, not only in DC but around the world.

It is important to say that all presidents lie; President Obama apparently lied when, during work to get the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed, that everyone who signed up would be able to keep his or her doctor. That turned out not to be true.

But the lies of the new president are a new sort. He is coming off as a pouting monarch, not a president. There is much about his first few days in office that have been bothersome.

But this investigation into voter fraud is a slap in the face of people who for a long time have fought against governments which have sanctioned the violation of the right to vote of African Americans. It feels like a wound has been slashed open by a man who doesn’t care about a segment of this population which has fought against the lion of racial discrimination when it comes to voting for too long. It feels like this president is trying to turn the pages back to a time when that kind of government-sanctioned voter fraud was accepted.

That cannot be allowed to happen.

This article originally published in the January 30, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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