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It is not totally without precedent to worry that an election might be stolen. There were rumors that Mayor Dailey of Chicago “arranged” for the city to give the state of Illinois to John F. Kennedy in the extremely close election of 1960. “Nixon claimed he spurned advice from President Eisenhower to dispute the election results in order to spare the country a constitutional crisis.” Yes, that was the same Richard M. Nixon.

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There wasn’t another such “voting irregularity” until 2000, when “butterfly ballots” and “hanging chads,” a partial recount, state attorney general’s interference, and a United States Supreme Court decision, put a cloud over the election of George W. Bush.

After a brief attempt at a recount, Al Gore gave up. He never challenged the authenticity of his loss, and worse, being vice president—and therefore, president of the senate–it was his job, over and over, to rule senators out of order, who were demanding to speak on behalf of his own claim to the presidency.

In both of these cases, questions about the election were after the ballots were cast. And, in both cases, there were reasons to believe that things had not gone right. Yet, the outcome was accepted.

In 2004, Democrats did worry ahead of the balloting. But this time, there was a reason why Democrats might question the election. Diebold, maker of voting equipment and software, undermined the faith in his own company’s product.

In mid-August [2003], Walden W. O’Dell, the chief executive of Diebold Inc., sat down at his computer to compose a letter inviting 100 wealthy and politically inclined friends to a Republican Party fund-raiser, to be held at his home in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. [[”I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year,”]] wrote Mr. O’Dell, whose company is based in Canton, Ohio. [Emphasis added.]

That is hardly unusual for Mr. O’Dell. A longtime Republican, he is a member of President Bush’s ”Rangers and Pioneers,” an elite group of loyalists who have raised at least $100,000 each for the 2004 race. [New York Times]

In fact, the company got into trouble for its business practices.

Diebold: the controversial manufacturer of voting and ATM machines, whose name conjures up the demons of Ohio’s 2004 presidential election irregularities, is now finally under indictment for a “worldwide pattern of criminal conduct.” Federal prosecutors filed charges against Diebold, Inc. on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 alleging that the North Canton, Ohio-based security and manufacturing company bribed government officials and falsified documents to obtain business in China, Indonesia and Russia. Diebold has agreed to pay $50 million to settle the two criminal counts against it.

This is not the first time Diebold’s been accused of bribery. In 2005, the Free Press exposed that Matt Damschroder, Republican chair of the Franklin County of Elections in 2004, reported that a key Diebold operative told Damschroder he made a $50,000 contribution to then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell’s “political interests” while Blackwell was evaluating Diebold’s bids for state purchasing contracts.

Bush did win the election of 2004, and it was Ohio’s 20 electoral votes that put him over the top. Once again, only the most extreme leftwing conspiracy theorists believed that Diebold was going to “rig” the election, and even afterward, there was no serious question of Bush’s right to be president. It would not be “The American Way” to besmirch our tradition of free and fair elections.

That’s what makes this year so unique, probably in American history. For the first time, a large number of Americans doubt that America is an authentic democracy.

It began, of course, with Donald Trump, who praised the polls all spring, when they showed him leading his opponents in the Republican primaries. Now that the polls are showing him behind, in most cases, he says they’re no good. In Pennsylvania, where polls have shown him consistently behind Hillary Clinton—by as much as 15 points—Trump has said there is no way he could lose the state, unless there is vote “rigging,” according to Breitbart.

Trump said, “The only way we can lose, in my opinion, I really mean this, Pennsylvania, is if cheating goes on. I really believe it. ”

He added, “That’s the way we could lose the state. We have to call up law enforcement, and we have to have the sheriffs and the police chiefs, everybody watching, because if we get cheated out of this election, if we get cheated out of a win in Pennsylvania, which is such a vital state — especially when I know what’s happening here folks. She can’t beat what’s happening here. The only way they can beat it, in my opinion, and I mean this 100 percent, is if in certain sections of the state, they cheat.”

Trump looks out over a cheering, adoring crowd of 10,000 people, and he can’t imagine that the state might, legitimately, reject him. Of course, those 10,000 are a small percentage of the 12,802,500 people who live in the state. That is, there could be 1,279 other groups of 10,000 people in the state who might hate his guts.

But, of course, as conspiracy theories go, the more they are repeated, the more a normal person will think there may be something to it. In fact, Joseph Goebbels, Adolph Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, is known for saying, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it,” and “If you repeat a lie long enough, it becomes truth.” I’m not calling anyone a Nazi today. I’m just explaining the process.

And thus, today, 41% of Americans now think this American election could be stolen.

The American electorate has turned deeply skeptical about the integrity of the nation’s election apparatus, with 41 percent of voters saying November’s election could be “stolen” from Donald Trump due to widespread voter fraud.

The new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll — conducted among 1,999 registered voters Oct. 13 through Oct. 15 — shows that Trump’s repeated warnings about a “rigged” election are having effect: 73 percent of Republicans think the election could be swiped from him. . .

Over the last week, the GOP nominee has intensified his criticism of the U.S. electoral system, much to the chagrin of elected Republicans, who think it threatens the peaceful transfer of power.

Of course, not everyone believes that America is not “Great” enough to hold a fair election, for instance, House Speaker Paul Ryan, according to The Blaze.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Saturday pushed back against GOP nominee Donald Trump’s claims that the election is “rigged,” saying through his spokeswoman that he believes the election will be carried out with “integrity.”

“Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity,” Ryan’s press secretary, AshLee Strong, said in a statement sent to several media outlets.

Trump’s brand of “positive thinking” makes him incapable of seeing anything negative as true. Another example is Saturday Night Live. Since they have been running skits poking fun at him, he doesn’t just complain, he CLAIMS that the show is failing, such as in this tweet.

Obviously, this is untrue, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The NBC sketch series, which again featured Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump, saw its top week-three rating in eight years last night.

You can argue that SNL is unfair to any person who has unusual characteristics. It makes for such good (and easy) parody. But you can’t claim that they don’t do it well. And it’s more than a little ominous for a United States presidential candidate to use a term such as, “it’s time to retire” the show. How, exactly, would a president do that? Following his promise to make it easier for a politician to sue a news outlet, it’s even scarier.

But now that the doubt is out of the bag, others are joining in, such as Rudy Guiliani, according to Newsmax. Then, there’s Pat Buchanan, who has hardly ever seen a conspiracy theory he doesn’t like. Even George Will.

Of course, it’s up to poor Mike Pence to try to make things right, according to The Blaze, claiming that Trump went off the rails due to unflattering media coverage.

Mike Pence said Sunday he and Donald Trump will abide by “the will of the American people” on Election Day. . . “We will absolutely accept the results of the election,” Pence said in television interviews. He said Trump’s complaint, articulated from the campaign stage and across Twitter but without evidence, reflects fatigue with “the obvious bias in the national media. That’s where the sense of a rigged election goes here.”. . .

Threatening to jail a political opponent and fueling public distrust of a popular election — to explain his loss, should that happen — was a striking breach of faith in American democracy. He has repeatedly claimed, without offering evidence, that election fraud is a serious problem and encouraged his mostly white supporters to “go and watch” polling places in certain areas to make sure things are “on the up and up.”

That’s the other half of Trump’s rant: that voting will be rigged, so it’s important for law enforcement and vigilante supporters to stand at the polls, in what some say would be de facto voter intimidation.

The truth is that actual voter fraud is extremely rare in the United States, according to all reliable sources, even Fortune Magazine.

One study by a Loyola professor found 31 known cases of impersonation fraud out of 1 billion votes.

In other words, an American is more likely to be struck by lightning than to engage in voter fraud.

There are a lot of things to admire about Donald Trump: his energy, his drive, his ability to keep going after repeated bankruptcies, his willingness to speak his mind, and question everything, even those things we have all taken for granted—or hold dear.

To tell you the truth, I don’t really care where The Donald sticks his hand (or “whatever”). But when he sows the poison of doubt on the roots of American Democracy, it’s time for Americans to stand up and tell him to stop. Now.

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