Trump’s Legal Battle for the Election is a Mess

Trump’s Legal Battle for the Election is a Mess, by John Jalsevac.

Electronic voting has to go:

At this point, the Trump administration has filed so many lawsuits, with so many affidavits, and has made such far-reaching claims of fraud, that it’s nearly impossible to sort through them to know what, if anything, has actually been proven. However, one thing they certainly have shown, beyond any reasonable doubt, is that electronic voting is a terrible idea. …

No amount of technical mumbo-jumbo or even actual security can ever eradicate the appearance of the untrustworthiness of electronic voting. Inevitably somebody will ask, “If clever people make fake videos featuring global leaders that are undetectable as frauds, then why couldn’t clever people also fake votes?” There’s no convincing riposte to that question. …

Trump was grievously unprepared:

Rudy Giuliani complained that his team is preparing and presenting cases that would normally take months, if not years to prepare and argue in normal circumstances. The media should give them time to make their case, and wait for the evidence, he said.

But who’s fault is this? The Trump administration had four years to investigate Dominion, Smartmatic, and the dangers of electronic voting in general. They could have convened bipartisan committees to investigate voter fraud and the vulnerabilities of these voting machines.

In 2016, even after he won, Trump claimed that there were millions of fraudulent votes. If he really believed that, why didn’t he do something meaningful about it while he was in office? Posting about it on Twitter doesn’t count. …

The political class are disregarding the strong statistical evidence of fraud. They are words people, not number people. Only witnesses will satisfy them, but given the dangers why should anyone come forward? Fraud is spotted by banks, taxation authorities, and insurers by analyzing numbers and patterns. Sadly, commentators ignoring the numbers come up with stuff like this:

Sidney Powell has raised some good questions about electronic voting …These questions should be pursued, however, a few days ago, most of us had never even heard of Dominion, Smartmatic and Scytl, etc.

Now we’re being told that we must simply believe Powell’s theory that these companies stole the election. Countless MAGA followers are posting that they are absolutely sure, without the slightest shadow of a doubt, that Dominion is behind the electoral theft. This feels mad.

“She’s a competent lawyer!” her supporters say. “She’s brilliant, she’s honest! She’s a patriot!” Maybe she is all of these things, but I’m not going to make a judgment about the outcome of a presidential election, or assent to a vast, complex, and highly implausible theory, based upon such thin gruel.

I need time. I need evidence. I need witnesses and counter-witnesses, examined and cross-examined. And being told by the MAGA crowd that I must assent to the theory, and to declare certainty that an election is invalid and that a coup has been perpetrated, without any of these, feels like intellectual blackmail. …

Trump’s team lacks a convincing focus, to date:

A thousand doubts does not constitute proof. Amateur debaters often fall into the trap of trying to win a debate by listing as many arguments as they can come up with. The mistake is in thinking that people are convinced by sheer quantities of evidence.

In reality, this almost always backfires. When you pound people over the head with argument after argument, they tend to become confused, bewildered, and, in the end, resentful. They resent not having the chance to really think through any one claim or argument in detail. Inevitably they begin to suspect that you’re just trying to pull a fast one on them. Usually, they’re right.

Trump and his legal team have fallen into this trap. At the press conference, they made repeated reference to the “hundreds” of sworn affidavits they have gathered, and the large number of their lawsuits. However, while hundreds of affidavits may be “evidence,” in the legal sense of the term, they do not amount to proof.

A journalist for The Blaze reviewed the affidavits filed in Michigan and noted that many of them do not actually contain allegations of fraud. Instead, they often have to do with circumstantial things, such as how GOP challengers felt they were being “treated” by election officials, or described “fraudulent” behavior that could plausibly be interpreted as election officials following normal procedures that GOP challengers simply failed to understand.

Maybe some of the affidavits obtained by Trump’s legal team contain slam-dunk proof of widespread fraud, but if they do, they are being lost in the noise.

Expert debaters know that the best way to win an argument is to select only the very best arguments, and to focus on those. If you go for quantity of evidence, inevitably you will include low quality evidence in your arguments. Your audience, which is not so much weighing each piece of evidence (an impossible task), as whether you are the sort of person who should be trusted, will often only remember your bad or weak arguments. The result is that they will write off everything else you say, as coming from a fundamentally unreliable source.

Trump and his surrogates have raised important questions about election integrity. Unfortunately, however, they have also repeated and promoted numerous false claims. Starting on election night, Trump began retweeting every claim of fraud that came across his Twitter feed, without any effort to fact check them. Many of them have subsequently been proven to be baseless.

It should come as no surprise that those who are not already on board the Trump Train are reacting to each new claim made by Trump with deep skepticism. The tragedy is that some of these claims may be valid. However, Trump’s carelessness with the truth has fatally undercut his ability to lead a productive inquiry into voter fraud.

The clock is ticking. Perhaps this will end up like the 2004 Venezuelan election, where a few years after the fact the analytic proofs were. They proved beyond reasonable doubt that the election was stolen. But they didn’t change the fact that Chavez was still president, and ten years later many middle-class Venezuelans were scouring the garbage looking for scraps of food.

Of course, all this would change in a heartbeat if a smoking gun was found.

hat-tip Stephen Neil