Tim Steller’s opinion about the Effort to undermine presidential election absurd, ominous.
Here is Steller’s column in full (Block quotes suppressed).
On Sunday, the Trump campaign sent me 21 emails demanding that I help them IMMEDIATELY.
“The Left will try to STEAL this Election!” a typical one said. “I’m calling on YOU to step up & FIGHT BACK. Your support is critical right now, Timothy. We must protect the integrity of this Election.”
“Please contribute $5 IMMEDIATELY to the Official Election Defense Fund and to increase your impact by 1000%.”
If you’ve read my columns, you know I wasn’t going to contribute. But I clicked through as if to make a donation, in order to read the fine print. Surprise, surprise: It showed that none of the money was going to an “Official Election Defense Fund” unless you contributed over $5,000 or specifically told them to put your money there.
Out of your donation, the fine print said, 60% would go to retire the debt of the Trump presidential campaign, and 40% would go the Republican National Committee’s operating account. They were pumping up fears of election fraud to collect money for other purposes.
But it’s also sinister. In this way and others, Trump and many GOP officials are convincing his supporters that election fraud occurred and robbed him of the presidency.
Sinister and ridiculous: The Trump/GOP effort to steal the presidential election and keep him in power is both.
Go back to last week in Arizona. On Election Day, some voters questioned the use of Sharpie pens in Maricopa County polling places, worrying that they would bleed through and spoil votes on the other side of the ballot. Those concerns were baseless: Sharpies are recommended for filling out those ballots, which were designed so that the ovals to fill out do not overlap each other on opposite sides of the ballot.
But that didn’t stop Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich from stepping in and making a fool of himself. On Nov. 4, he sent a letter to the Maricopa County Elections Department asking penetrating questions such as: “In which voting centers were Sharpies provided or made available to voters and where were those voting centers located?”
When the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office wrote back the next day, on behalf of the Elections Department, they noted that all 175 voting centers used Sharpies because “Sharpie markers are recommended by the manufacturer of Maricopa County’s vote tabulation machines as the preferred way to mark ballots.”
Oops. Brnovich’s office wrote back the next day saying it was “satisfied” with the answers. But the damage was done: “Sharpiegate” became a thing, validated in part by Brnovich’s very public raising of the issue, and demonstrators gathered daily outside the ballot-counting center in Phoenix, some with guns, some with signs about Sharpies.
The legal strategy Trump and the GOP have used to claim “election fraud” has been full of ridiculous moments and absent any success at proving election misconduct of any kind, let alone fraud.
Early Saturday, Trump tweeted out that his legal team would have a news conference later that morning at the “Four Seasons, Philadelphia.” It turned out the event was not at the famous downtown hotel, but at a business called Four Seasons Total Landscaping on the outskirts of Philadelphia near a freeway and next to a sex shop. Rudy Giuliani went ahead with the news conference just as the Associated Press called the race for Joe Biden.
The owner of the neighboring sex shop told the news website Slate in an interview: “You can’t write this stuff. Basically, I was pretty much in awe of the funniness of the whole situation.”
In Arizona, the Trump campaign, Republican National Committee and Arizona GOP sued Maricopa County, claiming election officials deprived Trump voters of potentially “thousands” of votes by the way it handled “overvotes” — those ballots where a person votes for too many people for the same office.
Actually, the Maricopa County Attorney’s office replied, the number of overvotes in the presidential race was just 180 — not nearly enough to make a difference. And of course, not all of them necessarily were by Trump voters.
And yet the result of these lawsuits attempting to muddy the waters over the election has been sinister.
The right-wing extremists among Arizona’s officeholders have clung to the lawsuits as giving hope that fraud would be revealed and the election overturned. Rep. Paul Gosar has embraced and amplified every significant conspiracy theory and concluded: “President Trump won this election. There is serious ballot fraud going on.”
State Sen. Karen Fann asked Tuesday that the Arizona Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, conduct new testing on the ballot-counting machines. She herself didn’t believe there was any fraud, Fann said, but “many others are making that claim.”
Hobbs, a Democrat, responded to Fann, a Republican, that the state has conducted all tests required by state law of the voting equipment and would not do additional ones. She wasn’t going to try to “prove a negative.” But that, of course, will no doubt fuel further conspiracism.
Trump has also continued doing his part, sending me an additional 30 emails seeking donations since Sunday. But on Tuesday, the fine print changed: Now, the first 60% of the donations is going to a new Trump-controlled political action committee called Save America that he plans to use to maintain his influence among Republicans after the election. He can also spend the money however he wants — on candidates, on travel, on events.
Of course, Trump’s influence has not proven to be a problem among Arizona Republicans: Elected officials like Gov. Doug Ducey have refused to condemn election-fraud conspiracy-mongering, and election losers like Martha McSally refuse to concede despite being miles behind. They’re perpetuating undue doubt and undermining our elections.
It’s ridiculous, but also sinister.