LETTER: The Peaceful Transfer of Power – Law and Order Since 1792

Submitted by Matt DesChamps

With President Trump trailing in the national polls and in many battleground states, the president has attempted to turn our national attention back to the validity of our national elections. While this is novel ground for a sitting president, it’s an old tune for President Trump. He used this conspiracy theory in 2016 when Trump and other officials like Stephen Miller stated that Democrats sent busloads of illegal immigrants from Massachusetts into polling sites in New Hampshire to vote for Hillary Clinton. Prior to that he claimed Senator Cruz “stole” the Iowa caucuses. Trump further claimed he would have won the popular vote if not for the “millions” of undocumented immigrants that voted for his opponent in numerous states.

As president, Trump went so far as to establish the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (Voter Fraud Commission) that ran from May 11, 2017 to January 3, 2018. The purpose of the commission was to investigate claims of voter fraud, improper registration and voter suppression. The commission was disbanded after courts required it to share the information with Democratic members. The commission’s work was then handed over to the Department of Homeland Security where it summarily died. The fact is, numerous academic studies and governmental inquiries have found in-person and by mail voter fraud to be rare. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, no buses of illegal immigrants invading voting booths, no stealing of elections. Our democratic voting system, while not perfect, is the standard of the free world.

At a recent press briefing, President Trump stated “we’re going to have to see what happens” when asked to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power. This is a startling unconstitutional presidential statement. The self-proclaimed “law and order” president refused to guarantee the peaceful transfer of power which has been the hallmark of our democratic process and the very essence of law and order since 1792. Trump went further stating, “We want to have—get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful, there won’t be a transfer, frankly……There’ll be a continuation.” A continuation? That’s not law and order. That’s not constitutional. That’s not democracy. That’s Belarus.

While our election process and procedures can certainly be improved and modernized, there is simply no evidence that our state-run election process and in person or by mail voting system are unreliable or worse fraudulent. None.

If President Trump is genuinely concerned about election integrity, he should direct serious federal efforts to thwarting Russian and other state sponsored interference with our public discourse and national elections. Contrary to the fake voter fraud complaints, the Russian intrusion efforts are well documented by our national security agencies. The Republican led Senate Intelligence Committee released its final five-volume report in August detailing its findings on Russian interference in the 2016 election. There were numerous contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow, including a willingness by the President’s then campaign manager, Paul Manafort, to share sensitive polling and other data with Russian intelligence officials. The report concluded there was irrefutable evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016

election and that these efforts continue. The report further concluded that the Russian government had engaged in an “extensive campaign” to sabotage the election on favor of Trump. What has President Trump done about these national security threats? Deny that they exist. Where is the law and order?

The legitimacy of any presidency depends upon the confidence the citizenry has in the fairness of the election. President Trump can’t undermine a Biden victory without undermining his own presidency and, in turn, undermining our very democracy. This is the tragedy in his rhetoric. This is how democracies are lost. Trust in our elections is the key ingredient to democratic rule. It’s up to each of us and our elected officials to do our part–remain vigilant, vote and protect our democracy. On January 20th, 2021 we will have a peaceful transfer of power. There will be no “continuance”. We will have law and order. The American people will have it no other way.