Opinion: Claiming Voter Fraud Without Evidence Is Like Burning Votes

Walter Rhein

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If there is one thing that has become clear since January 6th of 2021 it’s that people should not take radical action based on unsubstantiated claims. Unfortunately, many adults in American society respond emotionally when they’re given bad news.

This makes them easy to manipulate.

The January 6th committee is doing an excellent job of exposing the false claims of voter fraud that spread after the 2020 presidential election. Unfortunately, many Americans believed these claims even in the absence of concrete evidence.

I know from experience that it was such a popular narrative that people began to fabricate claims of voter fraud.

A former friend of mine called me up and complained that when he went in to vote, he was given a pen instead of a felt marker. He said he asked why they gave him a pen because he’d received a marker in every other election.

At this point in his story, I had to interrupt him.

“I voted absentee. Like you, I didn’t know if I was supposed to use a pen or a marker. So, I called up the state elections commission and asked. The person on the phone said that I could use any color of ink to mark the ballot. He said they preferred blue or black over red, but they would still count the vote even if I marked it in red.”

My former friend listened to this and said, “But why did they give me a pen this time instead of a felt marker?”

It was as if I hadn’t said anything. I became angry.

“What you’re doing is irresponsible," I said. "You’re fabricating a claim of voter fraud when you don’t have any evidence to support one. Instead of becoming hostile about unfounded speculation, you should call up the elections commission and verify what I’m telling you.”

Even after that statement, he persisted in his concern that there might have been voter fraud.

What bothered me most about this interaction was that this person was so delighted by the idea that he’d found voter fraud, that he refused to take any mature or responsible action. He steadfastly refused to verify his speculation. I think he refused to seek evidence because he wanted a story about voter fraud that made him feel like a big man.

It’s dangerous for our society when people become so committed to unfounded speculation that they refuse to examine the facts. At that point, they don’t even see the evidence that contradicts their position.

Anyone who watched the news on January 6th, 2021 saw how many people were willing to act on the unfounded claim of voter fraud. These people marched on our Capitol, engaged in acts of violence, and destroyed property.

Once people start lifting their hands in violence, the consequence of believing false speculation becomes inevitable. Although many entities in our media have tried to deny the violence of the insurrection, the proof is overwhelming.

Today, many people are sitting in jail because they refused to verify the claims about election fraud in the 2020 election. These people might claim they were manipulated, but we are ultimately responsible for our actions.

You can’t blame other people for telling you a lie. You can only blame yourself for being so gullible that you believed the lie.

To have a civilized society, people can’t maintain the entitled belief that they’re allowed to redress a grievance with violence.

If you think that there was voter fraud at an election, it’s your patriotic duty to report the information you know under oath. You should never engage in violence.

It’s telling that many of the individuals who were spreading the claim of voter fraud refuse to testify under oath.

I grew concerned with my former friend who was upset about receiving a pen instead of a marker. This conversation happened in December, and I told him his words were dangerous. “People are going to get killed if you keep talking like this. Call up the elections commission and verify for yourself that you can mark a ballot with a pen.”

He was so committed to his fraudulent story that he refused to even make a phone call. I’m certain that every time he went out to a bar, he told this story. He added to the fraudulent sentiment that there was something wrong with the election. It was all propaganda. He’d been brainwashed.

As an adult, you realize that sometimes things don’t go the way you want. Sometimes your football team loses. You can’t blame the refs. Sometimes your political candidate loses. You can’t blame election fraud.

As adults in a civilized society, we must not engage in frivolous accusations. People have to make their best effort to tell the truth. This applies to everything from not spreading false memes on social media, to not telling lies about election fraud.

Words matter. If enough people tell lies, it can lead to violence. We saw that on January 6th, 2021. Lives were ruined that day. Americans need to show enough respect for themselves and for their fellow citizens that they take on a responsible commitment to the truth.

That means researching claims before you spread them.

That means admitting when you’ve lost a contest.


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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI
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