We’ve heard the allegations for a few weeks now. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claiming the election is “rigged” against him. Supporters say that translates into a number of things including a biased national media. However, Trump himself has also talked about voter fraud affecting the outcome.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is a republican told us “I don’t think our vote will be rigged this year and I know it won’t be in Georgia because we’ve got a system of checks and balances and testing that we do. And I think people have confidence in that system, not that there’s not voter fraud going on or things happening that shouldn’t but it’s not enough that you’re going to have a rigged election.”
Kemp says there is a long list of checks and balances in terms of safeguarding voting machines which he says “are never online” and therefore not subject to hacking.
“It is absolutely a local system and is absolutely not online,” said Kemp. “The server is not hooked to the internet, the voting equipment is not hooked to the Internet. There’s actually a paper receipt in the machine that gets punched when the vote is cast so you can match the number of punches in that tape to the number of people that check in at the precinct.”
Kemp says machines don’t have a paper receipt system but says there is the ability to print out the ballots (from a machine) and then you could “scan them” to determine individual votes.
Kemp says it all adds up to a “safe, secure election” and he wants Georgians to be confident in the system.And he says there are also exact procedures to how votes are counted in Georgia.
But the message on vote tallies nationwide is this: that each state does it on its own and in many cases, has a system different from some other state. Political Science Professor Bruce Mallard says all that decentralization would make it virtually impossible to affect a national election. “The whole claim of rigged elections is really a false claim,” said Mallard. “We vote in the United States in local government entities, cities and counties – so that makes thousands of voter reporting units.”
Mallard says take the Georgia system for example with more than 150 counties (all counting independently of one another and reporting results) and look at the nation as a whole. He says on election night across the country people will cast ballots in 170,466 separate precincts. “So you really are not able to influence the election by hacking the system, because the system is so decentralized,” he told me.
On another topic, Wednesday night’s debate, Mallard says Trump’s continued charges of rigging are unprecedented. “There certainly can be complaints after an election if a candidate hears stories about voters not being able to cast a ballot for example, but it’s another thing for a candidate to say say in advance he knows the election is going to be rigged against him.”
Mallard also reacted to Trump indicating during the debate that he would “have to wait and see if he would accept the election results.”
“We really have kind of taken for granted that the loser concedes election night and so it’s more than just good manners or courtesy. It says I recognize this is a legitimate election.”
Mallard also says it’s likely that nationwide some republicans are concerned about the issue of rigging, saying Trump may affect the confidence in the outcome of down ballot races. “So now, he may casting doubt on governors and senators races, maybe even state legislatures.” he told me.
We reached out to Georgia republican Senator Johnny Isakson who is seeking re-election for a comment. But as of this posting we had not heard from Isakson or his staff.
1st District Congressman Buddy Carter who has indicated his support for Trump sent us this message:
“As Americans, we live in a democracy where power is vested in the people and heard through their elected officials. Our democracy is only functional if these representatives are elected in the fair and correct way. This election will have an impact on all Americans and I trust that the states will honor this great responsibility and provide the American people with the honest election they deserve.”
The staff of Georgia Senator David Perdue who also supports Trump (but is not up for election) also sent us this response:
They said that Perdue has indicated “There is no evidence that the election is being rigged, but that the main thing here is that this election needs to have integrity.
“This is a democracy, and if you can’t have open and honest elections, then what good is it?” says Perdue. “I think we’re going to have an election process that will have the full confidence of America and it will have the integrity it will need.”