No, Biden and Trump are not the same when it comes to electoral legitimacy

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Other times, like Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s rhetoric about election legitimacy, they may appear similar on the surface, but are actually fundamentally different.
The comparison was made at Biden’s press conference last week. When asked if the 2022 election would be “legal” after the repeal of the Democratic voting rights legislation, the president hedged: “It’s easily…not legal,” “I wouldn’t say it would be legal,” and “This Everything depends.”

Republicans protested. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah complained: “Donald Trump is down the same path, trying to legitimize the election.”

But Trump and Biden’s paths are not the same. They point in opposite directions.

Trump lost a fairly managed election and then tried to overturn the result in manic fashion. He pressed the Georgia secretary of state to “find” enough votes to reverse Biden’s victory there. He claimed there was fraud in the voting and counting of votes that did not exist.
After the court dismissed the fabrications, his allies promoted fake voters to replace those who were really elected by voters. Trump incited mob violence in hopes of persuading Congress not to affirm Biden’s victory.
In Republican-controlled states, lawmakers inspired by his “big lie” have since worked to change voting procedures and election management in hopes of winning future races. In Washington, Republican senators protected those efforts in the name of state election control.
Biden and congressional Democrats have tried to block them by passing two bills that died in the Senate last week. One would establish minimum national electoral standards; the second would reinstate parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that the Supreme Court had struck down.

In other words, Trump tried unsuccessfully to substitute illegal election results for legitimate election results; his allies aimed to improve their chances of succeeding next time. Biden seeks safeguards against illegal outcomes in the upcoming election.

That doesn’t make the current president’s comments about 2022 sensible. First, every contemporary and historical marker of the political situation points to a fair and legitimate Republican victory, even if new state-level Republican laws are not passed.

The laws are designed to limit the registration and voting processes that have helped Democrats in the 2020 election as turnout is hurt by the pandemic. But even targeting them “with surgical precision,” as Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota put it last week, may not overcome this “voter suppression” reactionary effort. Fire often. In any case, Democrats have exaggerated their influence, some election law experts say.

“At some point, voter suppression was so extreme that the legitimacy of the election was called into question,” said Rick Hasson, a professor of law and political science, president of the UC Irvine School of Law. “But none of these laws came close to that.”

GOP steps toward “electoral subversion” — making it easier for party officials to alter results by disqualifying legal votes — pose a bigger threat. However, this is especially important in the 2024 presidential race as states prove their electoral vote winners.

The danger of warning of “illegal” elections lies in undermining public confidence and the democratic process that Biden wants to strengthen. Meanwhile, Trump and his Republican allies clearly intend to undercut them.

“Democrats are right to complain about voter suppression and electoral subversion,” said Nathaniel Persili, a Stanford law professor who worked on the President’s Board of Elections during the Obama administration. “But we need to be very careful about how we use words like ‘illegal’.

“How do you sound the alarm without questioning the results? It’s very difficult. But now it’s a critical needle.”

Trump campaign officials led by Rudy Giuliani oversee fake voter plots in 7 states

American democracy has long been a role model for the world. But some U.S. elections, as expressions of public opinion, are unquestionably illegal.

Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias cited the races in southern states prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. It’s not because the votes were cast inaccurately; it’s because the mass disenfranchisement of black Americans makes it impossible for them to vote at all.

That doesn’t exist anymore. The trend in states in recent decades has been to make it easier for everyone to vote through easier registration, early voting periods and voting by mail.

But Republicans are uneasy about the trend, as demographic shifts have eroded the influence of their white electoral base, helping Democrats win the popular vote in seven of the past eight presidential elections.

For example, in 2018, Florida voters approved a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences. The following year, at the behest of Trump ally Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Republican-controlled legislature pared the initiative’s impact by rehabilitating felons who were disproportionately black and poor. Rights, subject to payment of outstanding court costs, fines or damages.

The new state law after Trump’s defeat reflects the same urge to limit the vulnerability of the Republican Party. There is no similar Democratic effort to raise voting barriers or upend election management for Republican-leaning districts.

That’s why even pundits who criticize Biden’s rhetoric about legality can’t control comparisons to Trump.

“This is ridiculous,” Hasson wrote in a blog post last week. “No one comes close to Trump in attacking the legitimacy of the U.S. election and electoral process.”

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