Cheating and then claiming, “I won!” does not make a person a winner.  Fraud — whether organized or disorganized, isolated or widespread, individual or coordinated — disqualifies results.  When flags are thrown and violations confirmed, penalties are assessed and downs replayed.  Occasionally, violators may be rejected or time added back to the clock.  Confirmed chicanery requires vacated victories and reassignment of crowns.

Election totals fuel widespread declarations and serve as the basis for future ratified actions.  But if tallies are tainted, the claims are based on false data, and consequential actions are illegitimate.  The point of pursuing election integrity, in any election and at any and every level, is to indisputably confirm facts and incontestably dispel fiction.

Consider AP Washington Bureau chief Julie Pace’s widely shared unequivocal assertion that the 2020 presidential election is over.  She contends, “It is increasingly clear that there is no fact, no piece of evidence and no court ruling that will dissuade Trump from trying to mislead Americans about President-elect Joe Biden’s victory[.] … In reality, Biden won 306 Electoral College votes, the same number Trump carried four years ago in a victory he deemed a landslide.  Biden also outpaced Trump by more than 7 million votes nationwide.”

Pace’s postulations are clear, but are they factually accurate?  If so, the following statements lean true:

  • “The election is over.  Joe Biden is the president-elect,” and “What Joe Biden got in this election was a mandate.”  Nancy Pelosi, news briefings, 11/12/20 and 11/13/20.
  • “The Donald Trump approach was repudiated.  The Joe Biden approach was embraced.”  Chuck Schumer, news briefing, 11/12/20.
  • “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history[.] … There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”  Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC) Executive Committee joint statement,, 11/12/20.
  • “The election is over.”  Paul Ryan, Virtual European Credit Conference, 11/24/20.
  • “The election is over.”  Joe Biden, Twitter, 11/24/2020.
  • “There is no evidence of fraud that would change the outcome of the election.”  Attorney General William Barr, Associated Press, 12/1/20.
  • “I can tell you without shadow of a doubt, there was no hanky-panky with the recent election.”  Rob Pitts, chairman of Fulton County (Georgia) Board of Commissioners, news conference, 12/1/20.
  • “The election is over.”  Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post, 12/8/20.
  • “The election is over.”  Karl Rove, Fox Business, 12/8/20.
  • “The election is over.”  Jeb Bush, Twitter, 12/10/2020.
  • “The election fraud hoax will go down as one of the most embarrassing and dishonorable episodes in American political history.”  Michigan representative Justin Amash, Twitter, 12/11/20.

However, if the tallies prove tainted, as alleged by former New York mayor and current Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the vast verbiage arguing otherwise will ultimately classify as filthy fiction.  Speaking on an episode of War Room: Pandemic, Giuliani asserted that the American people have not yet had the opportunity to examine evidence that appears to have corrupted some vote counts in key battleground states.

“Facts have been kept from them,” Giuliani declared.  “Not a single court decision has had a hearing yet.  They haven’t heard from a single witness.  They haven’t looked at a single tape.  They haven’t listened to a single recording.  There are thousands of them.”

Amber Athey voiced the sentiments of many when she wrote, “The media has been claiming since the election ended that President Trump’s claims of voter fraud are ‘baseless’ and ‘without evidence’.  That just is not true.  The President’s lawyer gave examples of [voter fraud.] … But everyone is too busy mocking him to pay attention.”

One version of the 2020 election story exalts characters who maintain no evidence of fraud, who argue that any and all allegations of deception have been disproven or are false, that the amount of so-called proof is insignificant, or that simply questioning the legitimacy of this election is dangerous.  Based on purported results and reported tabulations, many believe that the tale is told.  Good Character vanquished Art of the Deal in a landslide reset mandate poised to take Georgia, then change the world.

Some contend (and have taken actions to enforce their contentions) that any who believe otherwise are charlatans, conspiracy theorists, or kooks who should be banned from posting select viewpoints on social media and their accounts blocked or canceled.  Some elected leaders and candidates have advocated archiving lists of “Trump sycophants,” called for deprogramming millions of Trump supporters, incited violence against members and supporters of the opposing party, and called for beating other candidates so badly that they can never run again or show their faces in public.

Many of these same people sincerely believe that Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election; that Trump deserved impeachment based on hearsay from an unnamed whistleblower; and that Trump is such a bad person that vilification of the president and his family, administration, and supporters is justified.

But if the 2020 presidential tally is tainted as touted, “Biden won!” is a tall tale worthy of entry in the category of “Best Political Fiction.”  Currently, lawsuits in multiple states asseverate assorted illegalities.  Thousands of sworn affidavits by Republican, Democrat, and independent first-person observers claim fraud and cite physical evidence in election data, death records, residency and other official records, postal activities, videos, and voting equipment and software.  See the criminal complaint filed by Georgia State Republican chairman David Shafer and President Donald Trump for just one detailed list of alleged unlawful votes that easily exceed Biden’s ostensible margin of victory in Georgia.

A December 2020 Fox News national survey of registered voters found that 68% of Republicans, 26% of independents, and 10% of Democrats believe that the election was stolen from Trump.  A December 2020 Rasmussen Report concurs, reporting  that 62% of Republicans, 17% of Democrats, and 28% of independents think Democrats likely stole the election.  If true, there is a reason the seemingly frivolous dismissals by courts and others based on hatred of Trump, partisanship, or legal technicalities reek of irresponsibility and smell suspicious.  Even the high-profile December 11, 2020 Supreme Court’s 6-3 rejection of the Texas lawsuit hinged on purported lack of standing by the litigants, not a review of facts supporting the allegations.

As the account of this election continues to be written amid dramatically intense emotions and a cacophony of rival claims, the storyline includes genuine doubts about the integrity of this electoral contest.  The United States presidential elections and voting and election laws clearly have established legal parameters and appropriate due processes.  If these processes play out and ultimately prove any authentic fraud that could change the outcome, claims of victory not only ring hollow, but ring alarmingly false.  America is most beautiful when fact and fiction live on friendly terms across the street from each other, but don’t confuse one for another.

Originally published on on 12/23/2020.