The new “election fraud”

Here’s Bloomberg:

“We are witnessing the greatest election fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of any democracy,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week, echoing Trump as he smeared an unusual political coalition formed to unseat him. Though he is also mired in a corruption trial, Netanyahu said he won’t recognize a new government. Vitriol among his supporters has prompted Israel’s domestic security service to warn of escalating, possibly lethal, violence.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro faces re-election next year and has already lashed out at his country’s courts and made baseless claims of voter fraud. He has refused to condemn the Jan. 6 siege in the U.S. because, he said, there were “a lot of reports of fraud.” Should he “have problems” in Brazil, he said he would deploy the military to solve them.

Netanyahu and Bolsonaro have absorbed a valuable lesson from Trump: If you co-opt the imagination and intentions of enough members of your own party and your voters, you can persuade them to buy into your lies and rise up on your behalf when power slips from your grasp. 

Claims of election fraud have been around for decades. So why do I call this the “new” election fraud? What’s new about it?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but most of the claims of widespread election fraud during the 20th century were made by the candidate that was challenging the incumbent. After all, the government controls the electoral process, and thus is in a position to assure that it is reasonably fair. What’s new is not claims of election fraud—candidates challenging authoritarian leaders have been complaining about fraud for decades—what’s new is that there are now lots of incumbents crying fraud.

PS. Yes, this argument is a bit less applicable to the US where the election apparatus is controlled by state governments. But there were lots of claims of anti-Trump election fraud even in states controlled by the GOP. Weird.

PPS. I recently appeared on the Bob Murphy Show. We discussed monetary policy during the Great Recession.



38 Responses to “The new “election fraud””

  1. Gravatar of Rinat Rinat
    15. June 2021 at 09:57

    And what is your point? That fraud doesn’t occur when incumbents are in power?

    America has been overthrowing regimes and engaging in election fraud against incumbents for at least 70 years. As has China, Russia, and anyone with enough influence and power to do so.

    Fraud does occur, and it occurs often!

    And that is why audits, and licenses, are needed.

  2. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    15. June 2021 at 11:09

    Hillary went deep into the Russian collusion game. She was obviously from the party in power and the prior administration. Hillary while she didn’t go as far as trump certainly had her people imply votes were changed (Neera Tanden for one). Even Yves Smith whose on the left calls the RussiaGate to be a complete falsehood. Trumps gone farther but your thesis this hasn’t happened before is falsified by the prior election.

    The well was already poisoned a lot of his claims wouldn’t carry as well without Hillary’s attack on his administration. Of course Trump pushed birther so it’s not like undermining the election with irregularity claims is anything new. Just gets worse every election.

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    15. June 2021 at 11:27

    Rinat, You asked:

    “And what is your point?”

    Read the post.

    Sean, You said:

    “Just gets worse every election.”


  4. Gravatar of Cove77 Cove77
    15. June 2021 at 19:22

    Hillary ran a “deplorable” camapaign. She lost and conceded. Trump questioned integrity of election months before it even took place. He lost and he’s still bitching

  5. Gravatar of neoris neoris
    16. June 2021 at 00:20

    It kind of makes sense given Trump positioning himself as being against (and a victim of) an establishment deep state. It allows him to claim there are embedded forces cheating him out of an election victory similar to how a challenger would against an authoritarian incumbent. What’s different is that the incumbent changed to an invisible, intangible deep state. That way, the anti-establishment politician, in this case, Trump, can always position himself as fighting the intangible incumbent enemy while also assigning it all blame for any problems the politician himself creates. Most of this happens in the imagination of his supporters, he doesn’t even have to explicitly proclaim any of this.

    Trump is sort of a blank state if you think about it. He makes a bunch of random, generic statements to rally his base, either in rallies or on Twitter, and that’s about all he does. His supporters’ imaginations then fill in the gaps. Some believe him to be in a battle with the establishment, others see him as saving US manufacturing, and some believe him to be fighting a child-murdering cabal of pedophiles so coincidentally composed of all the politicians/celebrities they disagree with. I think it’s almost better than the alternative to be honest, as the populist doesn’t really have to do anything. He just sits it out for 8 years, does what the party wants from him, and then goes away. Filling out the courts with conservative judges and obstructing fair elections is deeply problematic, but it’s nowhere near as bad as what Trump could theoretically have achieved as Jan 6th had shown us. Point is, autocrats’ policies may be getting milder as their base no longer needs to see any concrete results. They’ll imagine and believe anything they’ll want

  6. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    16. June 2021 at 04:26

    Officially conceded while creating a false Russian narrative to destabilize the Trump administration. They were forming impeachment groups before he was even inagaurated. That’s not letting the other guy rule.

  7. Gravatar of Cove77 Cove77
    16. June 2021 at 05:08

    She was pissed that she lost and blamed the Russians, her husband, the media and Anthony Weiner for her loss. She still conceded. Big difference between her pre/post election behavior and that of Trump/Giuliani/DOJ and berating local Republicans in GA/AZ/PA to find votes. Trump stands out from all his predecessors Why is that so hard to recognize?

  8. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    16. June 2021 at 07:03

    Public polling disagrees with you. 68% of Democrats believed Russia changed votes in 2016. Which launched the we need to impeach him game. It’s the same shit. Even today you can find Biden and Hillary saying 2016 wasn’t legitimate.

  9. Gravatar of postkey postkey
    16. June 2021 at 07:39

    This is why H.R.C. ‘lost’?
    ‘And it’s deadly. Doubtless, Crosscheck delivered Michigan to Trump who supposedly “won” the state by 10,700 votes. The Secretary of State’s office proudly told me that they were “very aggressive” in removing listed voters before the 2016 election. Kobach, who created the lists for his fellow GOP officials, tagged a whopping 417,147 in Michigan as potential double voters.’
    “In 2016, no fewer than 5,872,857 ballots were cast—and never counted.
    Does it matter? In Detroit, 75,355 ballots were never counted because of 87 broken scanning machines. And Trump supposedly won Michigan by 10,700 votes — really?
    And, no fewer than 1,982,071 legal voters were denied the right to vote. Told to get the hell out of the polling station. Can you guess their color?
    Add it up. That’s at least 7,854,928 legitimate votes and voters tossed out of the count.
    So God Bless America. By the way, these numbers are from the raw data supplied to me by the US Elections Assistance Commission.

  10. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    16. June 2021 at 09:01

    Cove77, You ask:

    “Why is that so hard to recognize?”

    Because some people have had their brains so warped by politics that that can’t tell up from down.

    I’ve reached the conclusion that rational arguments are just useless, people will believe what they want to believe.

  11. Gravatar of Cove77 Cove77
    16. June 2021 at 12:13

    Sean ,

    68% of Dems believing that Russians changed votes in some lame ass poll is NOT equivalent to a losing candidate refusing to concede an election. Watch video’

    Trump’s first impeachment was re Ukraine phone call which came much later

    What did Hillary or any other losing candidate in the last 244 yrs do that approximates what Trump did on Jan 6th ??

  12. Gravatar of Tom M Tom M
    16. June 2021 at 12:33


    The link you provided is laughable… also, those votes in Detroit were counted, the issue that occured w/ the voting machines is that upon the requested recount, they were not eligible to be part of the recounted ballots. Which is VERY different than what you are suggesting. Of the 1.2 MM ballots that were part of the recount, it only shifted 102 to Hillary from Trump, so those 75K likely wouldnt have impacted the totals anyway.

    This isn’t even disputed.

    The lefts lie is that wide spread voter suppression occurs in every election cycle, the rights lie is that wide spread voter fraud occurs in each election cycle.

    They are both lying to you 😀

  13. Gravatar of sean sean
    16. June 2021 at 12:58

    Those links are crazy. And I 100% agree Trump took it farther. But Hillary took it farther than anything as far back as Kennedy.

    Tanden – basically Hillary’s best friend was tweeting this in 2016.

    “Why would hackers hack in unless they could change results? What’s the point?” she speculated,

    The main difference is trump does the illegitimate in stupid ways. Hillary and her people did it more sophisticated.

  14. Gravatar of Brian Brian
    16. June 2021 at 15:36

    Sean it is strange you said “false Russian narrative”. It stands to reason that Facebook influences voters and 13 Russians were indicted for using social media to reach American voters so there is a fairly non-controversial view that Russia did affect the 2016 election. Trump won in 2016 by 3 states and 78K votes. Biden won in 2020 by 3 states and 45K votes. Every election is a close election in some sense because the nomination process makes it so: they don’t deliberately nominate somebody to lose the Electoral College. In close races, it doesn’t take much to tip it. That’s why there is a true “Russian narrative”. There were other reasons but I don’t want to make a list. How do you explain Putin’s smirk.

  15. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    16. June 2021 at 19:58

    That’s a motte-and-Bailey argument. To retreat to something that’s true that there were some Russians involved in fb ads. That being said that’s 78k voters in the right locations influenced. Which would means millions over the country were influenced or 1-2% of the voting public overall.

    I do agree our elections are often coin flips with small margins. And you shouldn’t delegitimize elections because they were won on small margins and could have flipped the other way if a few rules etc were different.

    But Hillary and her people didn’t say it was a few fb ads. They pushed collusion between trump and the Russians and a massive conspiracy. That’s what was sold to America. Impeachable offenses to change the election outcome which wasn’t true.

    Also Russia would run a few fb ads just to get Americans fighting each other and delegitimize the election of either party. And they would hack to cause political infighting here.

  16. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    16. June 2021 at 20:05

    A quick google on the 13 shows they had a monthly budget of 1.25 million and ran political ads. Basically nothing. Overall ads are becoming less effective at changing votes. Biden had billions of dollar more than Trump and barely won.

    I doubt $5 million or so in Facebook ads even changed anything in 2016. It’s likely not even a true narrative that it changed the election and it’s nothing close to the vote changing 68% of democrats believed in 2018.

  17. Gravatar of Brian Brian
    17. June 2021 at 05:42

    Sean, social media charges nothing to post comments so your comments miss the target.

    You should just trust Trump that Russia did interfere with the 2016 election because Trump said that they did because the U.S. intelligence organizations told him so.

    There are more reasons but I already told you I don’t want to make a list and you can research it yourself.

  18. Gravatar of Brian Brian
    17. June 2021 at 06:04

    Sean you said “They pushed collusion between trump and the Russians and a massive conspiracy.”

    In the interest of a more thorough response to you I will respond to that comment of yours even though I don’t want to be a compiler of a list. I don’t remember all of what has been reported but if you want to search for what Kilimnik and Manafort have been doing you may develop circumstantial evidence of collusion.

  19. Gravatar of postkey postkey
    17. June 2021 at 06:35

    ” And you shouldn’t delegitimize elections ”
    It matters not either way?
    “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens
    Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page
    Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics—which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic-Elite Domination, and two types of interest-group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism—offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented. A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. We report on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues. Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism. “

  20. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    17. June 2021 at 10:03

    Sean, So wait, are you saying that Trump did not publicly encourage the Russians to interfere in the election with the intention of hurting Hillary Clinton? Because I saw him do so on TV. But maybe it was just a hologram of Trump–fake news.

  21. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    17. June 2021 at 11:55

    After all, the government controls the electoral process, and thus is in a position to assure that it is reasonably fair.


    This is true but it's still pretty absurd from media outlets like Bloomberg and The Guardian – and maybe even from you – that Netanyahu is included in this list. This is almost malicious.

    Netanyahu talks about completely different things that objectively really happened. He does not doubt the election results, he says that Bennett obviously lied and made completely false election promises.

    Bennett had pledged not to partner with leftwing and Arab parties, not even with centrist parties, he promised this to his voters before the election, nevertheless he announced right after the election the he is going to form a coalition with factions from all these spectrums – and Netanyahu simply answered that this is fraud. What else would it be?

    Picture Biden running an anti-Trump campaign and then after the election Biden says, "You know what, my promises were a hoax, I'm now making a coalition with Trump, in fact I think Trump should govern. He's such a nice guy!"

    What would that be other than fraud?

  22. Gravatar of sean sean
    17. June 2021 at 12:55

    We have the Mueller report and it found no collusion. Besides we are just talking about ads. People can think for themselves. And as I said before advertisements don’t have that much reach anymore.

    That being said we are going to see Biden impeached over Ukraine. On his laptop besides all the debauchery they have him promising Burisma executives in Email that he will get the prosecution shut down while his father is VP. Lacking a direct link to his father (outside of text he has to give half the money he makes to Joe, but thats not enough for court).

    Funny thing is if the media wasn’t afraid to tell the truth today they would have investigated Biden’s laptop much more seriously this election and Trump would have won.

  23. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    17. June 2021 at 13:03

    @Sean: LOL

    @Christian: Are you new to politics? It’s not “fraud”, it’s how they operate. Those kinds of lies are standard. Voters don’t care if ‘their team’ does it and care quite a bit when the other team does.

  24. Gravatar of Brian Brian
    17. June 2021 at 14:51

    Sean, did it ever occur to you that when people were investigated about election collusion with Russia that they might keep secrets and also tell lies?

  25. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    17. June 2021 at 15:07

    Wikipedia says Manaforts phone was being tapped by the fbi during the entire election. They came up with nothing. Unless you think some 25 year old DePaul kid orchestrated the operation.

    You ever think Russia meddled in the election on their own just to destabilize Americas political system. Which is exactly what occurred. Hillary lost. Trumps administration was damaged. And now the GOP plays the same games as Hillary.

    And fwiw Russia didn’t do anything other than tactics our own CIA constantly does. We hack the phones and emails of our own allies. We interfere in elections. That’s what intelligence services do throughout the world. They don’t need a deal to do these things.

  26. Gravatar of Ryan Ryan
    17. June 2021 at 19:15

    Hi Scott, did you listen to Murphy’s intro to his podcast episode that you appeared in? And did you know that he considers your view of tight monetary policy during the Great Recession, as well as much of your Midas book, as completely incorrect? Just wonder if you are aware of how much he disagrees with you and wonder if you have any thoughts about the episode.

  27. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. June 2021 at 14:14

    Christian, You are defending Netanyahu? Is there anyone you won’t defend? Lock him up.

    Sean, You said:

    “That being said we are going to see Biden impeached over Ukraine.”

    Politics is a helluva drug.

    Ryan, No, I did not listen to the podcast, but I am aware that Murphy has very different views. If you listen to the podcast, you will see that he doesn’t really poke any holes in my argument.

  28. Gravatar of Sky Prince Warrior Sky Prince Warrior
    20. June 2021 at 16:09

    It isnt about whether Netanyahu is a good person or not … when he says “election fraud” what he means is that people voted for candidates of a particular ideology, and those candidates promptly abandoned that ideology for the sole purpose of kicking out Netanyahu. And he got the most votes. Instead the primership will go to a party to the right of him! that is one fifth his size.

    He has legitimate gripes there. Now, it is petty, he knew the rules coming in, and if the situation was reversed he would have no concerns, but politicians are hypocrites, news at 11.

    This is an actual thing that happened he is complaining about. You may disagree, but that isn’t comparable to Trump simply making shit up and alleging fraud.

  29. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    21. June 2021 at 08:44

    @Christian, You are defending Netanyahu? Is there anyone you won’t defend? Lock him up.


    stating the facts is not defending. You (and msgkings) missed the point. I think Sky Prince Warrior got what I meant.

    Some people here (and many people in the media) have completely distorted what Netanyahu obviously meant and said.

    He never implied fraud in the sense that votes were miscounted or anything even close to that. He simply said that Bennett deliberately misled his voters with coalition pledges he never intended to honor. This is a simply fact.

    The question of whether Netanyahu is corrupt or not has nothing to do with this.

    I think the evidence is there, he is corrupt under Israeli law, but again, that wasn’t even the question at hand.

    We have had this topic before, that people can no longer stand ambiguity, and they are no longer capable of differentiation either.

    They are sitting in their biased team camps, and when I simply say how it was, one is immediately deemed a “defender of Netanyahu”. This partisan hackery should really stop, it is unnecessary and unhealthy.

    Are you new to politics? It’s not “fraud”, it’s how they operate. Those kinds of lies are standard.


    As I said, that was never the question by a long shot. But we can also address this issue: Misleading your voters like that, with completely false coalition pledges, is not standard procedure. There are hardly any examples for this kind of fraud since 1945. Especially not in the US, where coalitions aren’t even known.

    I can only recall one similar case from Hesse (even though not so extreme), where in 2008 a party leader of the left-wing Social Democrats wanted to enter into a coalition with an even more left-wing party. In terms of content, the parties did fit together very well indeed, but before the election the party leader had said several times that she strictly rejected and ruled out such a coalition.

    Well, she had lied; after the election, she wanted the coalition at all costs. But the scandal and the popular outrage were so great that she was not elected Prime Minister of Heese three times in a row. In the anonymous elections, several people of her own party kept voting against her, which meant the end of her political career. No one wanted to see this liar in a political function ever again, she had become unelectable for all eternity and left politics immediately.

  30. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. June 2021 at 06:53

    lol everyone forgets that in 2018 serious people were writing serious articles quoting serious Ivy League law academics saying Hillary could be instated as President because Russia

    if Trump is President again in Jan 2023 (yes, this could really happen if the House and Senate flip hard, due to the procedural rules) the irony will be lost on nearly everyone

  31. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. June 2021 at 07:12

    soctt — “Because some people have had their brains so warped by politics that that can’t tell up from down. I’ve reached the conclusion that rational arguments are just useless, people will believe what they want to believe.”

    true, but the problem is that you are also a person and thus no less subject to the same irrationalities and incorrect filtering

    for example, Trump critics wail on about a few thousand dollars of Facebook ads, but China may have diverted trillions to influence the last US election — heck, the spy chief of China threw Biden’s kids billions just to meet Joe even as “Trump is a traitor!” Swallowwell was banging a Chinese spy

    warped indeed

  32. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. June 2021 at 08:05

    Talldave: You said:

    “true, but the problem is that you are also a person and thus no less subject to the same irrationalities and incorrect filtering”

    Oh really? In my 12 years of blogging, can you find a single example of me saying something this stupid:

    “if Trump is President again in Jan 2023 (yes, this could really happen if the House and Senate flip hard, due to the procedural rules) the irony will be lost on nearly everyone”

    I’m not a Democrat or a Republican, and hence feel no emotional pull to support either party.

  33. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. June 2021 at 10:30

    lol now now Scott, no need to get upset

    yes, it is in fact possible, google it… if the Speaker becomes acting President, nothing prevents the elected Speaker in 2023 from being Donald Trump (or anyone else, really), just one of those technicalities

  34. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    22. June 2021 at 10:37

    of course no one is claiming this is likely

    however if significant fraud is found in the audits, GOP could in theory campaign on, effectively, restoring to Trump his stolen Presidency by removing Biden and Harris and making Trump Speaker

    voted against Trump three times btw

    it’s a long shot but then never thought he would win in 2016 so you never know

  35. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. June 2021 at 07:54

    Talldave, You said:

    “however if significant fraud is found in the audits”

    And what happens if people discover that the moon is made out of green cheese?

  36. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    24. June 2021 at 02:44

    Yes, arguing with fascists is a waste of time, given that fascism arises from strong cognitive biases in the first place. Fascist are people who are less capable of dealing with cognitive biases in the first place.

    All most fascists will ever understand is punishment.

  37. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    26. July 2021 at 11:45

    “And what happens if people discover that the moon is made out of green cheese?”

    legit laughed out loud at that one.

  38. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    26. July 2021 at 11:47

    Scott I think one of the attractions of your blog is people do see you as being somewhat in the middle. Clearly you’re no Trump fan or cult fan, but you have plenty of criticism for the left too. I think people like to see if they can sway you to lean more one direction or the other.

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