Daily Bread for 11.15.22: Populist Election Deniers Wreck Their Own Chances

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be snowy with a high of 35. Sunrise is 6:47 AM and sunset 4:31 PM for 9h 43m 18s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 59% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Common Council meets at 6:30 PM

On this day in 1864, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman begins his March to the Sea.

Those of us who advocate for individual rights understandably oppose populists’ herd-and-horde perspective. Sometimes, however, that perspective of the populists does more harm to their cause than any outside criticism could. Conspiracy theories spread far and fast among their group-thinking ranks, often to their movement’s detriment. Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasaniti write Republicans’ 2022 Lesson: Voters Who Trust Elections Are More Likely to Vote (Election deniers’ doubts about voting made for compelling conspiracy theories, but proved to be a bad get-out-the-vote strategy): 

PHOENIX — It was early on Election Day when polling places in Maricopa County started experiencing a glitch. Tabulation machines were rejecting thousands of ballots, a result of a printer error, and the confusion was causing lines and frustration at the polls.

There was a simple fix: Voters could place their ballots in a secure box — called Box 3 — kept at every polling station for just such situations. Their votes would be counted later, at the county’s central tabulation center.

But for the state’s most conservative voters, a group primed by two years of former President Donald J. Trump’s stolen-election lies to see conspiracy in every step of the voting process, Box 3 smelled of trouble. Election deniers in the state’s Republican Party soon began warning voters away from the boxes, as suspicions flew across Twitter and right-wing media. “Do not trust them,” Charlie Kirk, the conservative leader, warned his followers.

That message reinforced Republicans’ skepticism about elections, but it didn’t do much to help their candidates win. Later that morning, the Republican candidate for governor, Kari Lake, held a news conference to deliver the opposite message. Box 3 was safe, her campaign lawyer said.

“Vote, vote, vote,’’ Ms. Lake added. “We’ve got to vote today.”

Whether the suspicion and mixed messages around Box 3 made a difference in a race that Ms. Lake lost by a hair to her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs, might never be known. (Her campaign maintains the fault lies with the county.)

But the moment crystallized one of the main lessons of the 2022 midterms: Casting doubt on the legitimacy of elections might be an effective tool for galvanizing true believers to participate in a primary — or, at its origins, to storm the U.S. Capitol in order to overturn a losing result. But it can be a lousy strategy when it comes to the paramount mission of any political campaign: to get the most votes.

“If you tell people that voting is hard, or voter fraud is rampant, or elections are rigged, it doesn’t make people more likely to participate,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a nonpartisan group that works with election officials to bolster trust and efficiency in voting. “Why would you want to play a game you thought was rigged?”

Our elections are not rigged. Those who think so are wrong, either ignorantly or dishonestly so. 

As it turns out, those who deny the integrity of our elections are also, sometimes, self-defeating.

Zelenskiy visits newly liberated city of Kherson

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