Legal Fraud?

When the dust settles, the American public will come to see both that many kinds of fraud were employed to ensure that Donald Trump would be defeated and that the most consequential of these were perfectly legal.

To begin, I don’t believe for a second that there was a vast conspiracy to steal the election in any kind of legal sense. Such a conspiracy would have to have been enormous in scope to have had any chance of success – and any conspiracy involving (presumably) tens or hundreds of people in each of, say, a half dozen states, all of whom would know that they were involved in an enormous federal crime – would be impossible to put into effect, let alone keep secret. I just don’t buy it.

(As a matter of interest, though, it seems that the betting markets ( do believe that there’s a non-trivial chance that such a conspiracy took place and will be found out. I reach this conclusion by looking at the odds of Trump victories in the six states that are still in dispute. In each of these states, the bettors see his chances as being between 10% and 13%, but they see his chance of overall success as about 11%. Since Trump needs at least three of the disputed states to win, and those three must include a combination of the larger ones, if the odds of victory in individual states were independent variables, his odds of hitting the right combination of victories in three or more states should be miniscule – nowhere near 11%. Therefore, I conclude that bettors see the variables as non-independent and his chance of over-all success as resting on his ability to prove a vast conspiracy – and that possibility as a long shot but far from impossible).


Rather than think of election fraud as a simple binary, I suggest we consider various kinds of fraud and their likely effects on the overall result. I take it as a given that some kinds of fraud took place – as they always do – but the big questions are whether the frauds that took place changed the election’s apparent result and whether, if the results were changed by the frauds, sufficient proof can be found in the next three weeks (since the Electoral College is set to meet in mid-December) to persuade the Supreme Court or state legislatures to stop the clock and hit reset. The Trump campaign has a gigantic hill to climb in trying to figure out exactly what happened, if some terrible crime did, and prove it to the Court and the American public in time to change the apparent result. I strongly suspect that the betting markets are being too optimistic in seeing Trump’s chances of doing so as being as high as 11%.


Examples of the simplest kinds of fraud are dead people seeming to vote or non-residents voting in a swing state. Multiple examples of these sorts of small-scale fraud undoubtedly happened – the Trump campaign has already found and highlighted many such instances. I see zero chance that they will be able to prove that there was enough of this sort of fraud to change the result, and very little chance that there actually were enough of these sorts of frauds to change the result.

The second level of possible election fraud can broadly be described as hacking the computers that counted the votes. Numerous analysts, some data scientists and the Trump campaign claim to see patterns in the reported results that are so statistically improbable as to be de facto evidence that this kind of fraud took place. And, given that it has been widely reported that the Dominion Systems software used to count votes in most states is readily manipulatable, the possibility of such fraudulent (and criminal) manipulation cannot be discarded out of hand.

Given the hatred for Donald Trump among many Democrats who also happened to oversee the counting systems, this kind of fraud may have happened in some counties. But what are the odds that it happened in enough places – that proved to be just the ‘right’ places from the Democrat perspective, and that such a (presumably coordinated) assault on the integrity of our election can be proven over the next couple of weeks? Close to nil, I would think.

As to my hypothesis that such an effort, if it happened, should be seen as ‘presumably coordinated’ my theory is that it would have to have been seen as unbelievably risky for somebody in, say, Michigan or Pennsylvania, to initiate a fraud-in-scale by moving tens or hundreds of thousands of votes – an action that, if caught, would presumably result in a very long jail term – without knowing that the fraud would succeed in putting Biden in office – which such a fraudster couldn’t know unless he or she also knew that victory was also being improperly assured in the other decisive states – i.e., that there was a vast conspiracy of the like-minded to subvert our democracy. Even a rabid Trump-hater – and I know quite a few – would surely flinch at committing such a serious crime without knowing that it would make succeed in changing the overall result. And, as previously mentioned, I’m not a big believer in vast conspiracies.

The final level of fraud is undoubtedly the most important of the three, and here’s the thing: we know that it happened and that it may well have made a decisive difference in the election’s result, but there isn’t a damn thing anybody can do about it because it was perfectly legal. I refer to the successful efforts made by Democrats to make election fraud of the first type much easier and therefore presumably more prevalent and – most of all – to the rank dishonesty displayed by our tech lords and media grandees.

When Democrats in various states, often using Covid19 as an excuse, lobbied successfully, for mailing ballots to all voters or to accepting absentee ballots without signature matching, they knew that these changes would make previously small-scale voting fraud much more scalable. To them, that was, as they say, not a bug but a feature. How much fraud grew out of these changes? We’ll never know.

As to the terrible (in my view) behavior of the tech lords and media grandees, what they did is not in dispute. Twitter, Facebook and the major media shamelessly suppressed information about the Hunter Biden scandals while promoting every spurious anti-Trump allegation far and wide. Holding themselves out as neutral advocates for the truth, they leaned aggressively left in how they presented facts, and in which facts they even allowed discussion about in their supposedly public fora.

And they gave overwhelming sums to push the result leftward: e.g., Mark Zuckerberg gave $400 million to leftist groups to ‘help’ manage election processes in largely Democrat constituencies ( – an effort that sounds to me like it was closely akin to, but on a broader scale than, the efforts of the Democrat legislators who pushed for looser voting rules, knowing that more fraud would result. It has even been reported that Google sent reminders to vote to Democrats, but not Republicans; how could that be seen as anything other than an in-kind contribution to the Biden campaign? Apart from anything else, de facto contributions like these to the Democrats’ campaign make a mockery of the legal limitations on campaign donations.

No doubt these folks at the third level see their own behavior as having been not only perfectly legal but on the side of the angels. Trump is a bad guy in their eyes, and they found legal ways to help ensure his defeat.

Even so, I see their behavior as having meaningfully diminished the legitimacy of our electoral process by encouraging previously small-scale electoral fraud, actively hiding some important facts from the American public while grossly distorting others and making enormous, unregulated de facto contributions to the Democrats. They made a mockery of their own claims of impartiality and of the integrity of their products; they have added to the growing distrust many Americans feel about our major institutions.

Their actions weren’t frauds in any legal sense, but they were fraudulent in the sense of having been, or knowingly encouraged, far reaching dishonesty in the electoral process.


Notwithstanding his bluster, Trump almost certainly knows that he is unlikely to prevail. He’s a man who has known defeats before – look at the bankruptcies among some of his real estate projects. Still, he fights on, presumably because he still thinks that he won and may find the means to prove it, and perhaps also because by drawing out the fight, he’ll be able to shed light on the many ways in which the contest was rigged. He’ll go down fighting, thank you very much.

I respect Trump’s pugnaciousness – indeed, I admire it.

M.H. Johnston  

3 comments to Legal Fraud?

  • DCS  says:

    Hmmmmm…I think he’s a poor loser. The rules are of the game are set. Everyone knows them going in. There seems to be plenty of scope to address any cheating before, during or after. The result is what it is. Take it on the chin and move on. Magnanimity in victory, good grace in defeat are the characteristics I admire which ever side wins or loses.

    • M Johnston  says:

      I’ll agree with your assessment if and when I conclude that Trump knows that he can’t find or prove a genuine conspiracy to switch votes in scale. I don’t think he’s concluded that yet – but that day will likely come in the next week or two. Until then, as I’m sure Al Gore and Stacey Abrams would agree, if he thinks he was robbed (as I’m sure he does), he has every right and obligation to fight, even if he sees it as a long shot.

  • Vivian Wadlin  says:

    I’ll wait for the evidence to be submitted to the courts before I say Trump lost squarely. I think he will lose because, evidence or not, the time limits are all against him.

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