These 9 red states should have their results thrown out based on GOP 'fraud' claims
Photo: AFP

Everyone knows Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in January 20. Donald Trump will leave by that day, one way or another.

Before that happens, however, a sizeable number of Republicans will challenge the integrity of U.S. elections to curry favor with Trump's angry political base. It is perhaps the most ironic of Trump's legacies that the subject of election reform will long outlast his tenure. It indeed cries out for attention, just not for the bogus reasons he claims. Voter suppression and the need to make the franchise more accessible to more Americans do require immediate attention.

When Trump realized many months ago that he was likely to get beaten by Biden, he resorted to the same undemocratic tactic he had employed as a 2016 presidential candidate during both the primary and general elections. Trump convinced his followers of a binary choice. Either he would win, or the election surely had been rigged against him.

In 2020, faced with the COVID-19 pandemic he was so desperate to deny, Trump's choice of bogeymen for this purpose was easy: Any measures taken to make voting easier -- something Republicans instinctively resist -- would be the source of fraud against him. And the low-hanging fruit was to claim falsely that mail-in balloting was inherently corrupt, with the likes of drop-off ballot sites and relaxed submission deadlines not far behind.

There is no evidence to support Trump's nonsensical claims, but that's hardly deterred him from the repeating his lies thousands of times for the purpose of rendering them truthful to millions. So the nation will be hearing from a handful of lean and hungry politicians this week -- led by Missouri Senator Josh Hawley -- who will essentially argue that the effectiveness of Trump's demagoguery is reason enough to doubt a legitimate election. Lacking any evidence, the arguments will default to taking issue with the basic notion of making voting safer and more accessible.

While the nation humors that -- and even after Congress' certification of the election for Biden and Harris -- it should be noted that among the more suspects in Hawley's illogic are nine red states that gave their electoral votes to Trump. In all nine instances, these Republican-run states adopted measures designed to promote safer and easier ballot access during the pandemic.

Here are the states that Hawley should thus be trying to disqualify Wednesday in Congress: Utah; Ohio; North Carolina; Kentucky; Iowa; Kansas; West Virginia; North Dakota; and Nebraska.

The 69 electoral votes of these states surely were "tainted" by a combination of mail-in balloting, drop off boxes, lack of signature requirements, acceptance of ballots beyond the election day and a variety of relaxed rules to accommodate the special circumstances of the pandemic.

The source is a state-by-state scoreboard of pandemic voting measures compiled by the Brookings Institute, published in October and last updated Election Day. Brookings researchers graded states on the basis of how well they accommodated mail-in voting and the like, on a scale from A to F. Trump supporters would reverse the grades.

Here's the premise of the research:

"Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many have wondered if the U.S. can conduct a safe election in November. What we know is this: The safest and most secure way to vote in a pandemic is vote-by-mail. During the 2020 primaries, coronavirus severely disrupted elections. State voting systems were overwhelmed by long lines, an influx of absentee ballot requests, and technology issues. Considering this, we have chosen to assess the ease of mail voting in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., on dimensions such as requesting, completing, and submitting a mail-in ballot. This scorecard does not attempt to gauge overall voter experiences or cover all aspects of the voting system. It is a forward-looking and evolving analysis of what states are doing now to expand access and improve the process of voting by absentee ballot or via a universal vote-by-mail system, thereby improving voting in a pandemic."

Brookings gave A's to eight states, including the five that already had laws requiring that ballots be sent to all voters: Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. None of them had been accused before of fraudulent behavior before 2020. One of them, Utah, is a red state.

Conversely, eight states were also given F's and D's for poor voter access, including Hawley's Missouri. Of the eight, Virginia and New Hampshire were blue states.

Here's a breakdown of the nine red states that received either an A or B from Brookings, meaning they were highly suspect of terrible behavior by the Republicans' new definition, complete with a list of their offenses:

Utah:

Voters automatically receive a ballot

Ballot does not require a witness signature

Ballot is accepted if postmarked by election day and received beyond 5 or more days from election day

Drop-off boxes, mail, and in-person channels are available

Ohio:

All registered voters receive an application

Ballot does not require a witness signature

Ballot is accepted if postmarked by election day and received beyond 5 or more days from election day

Drop-off boxes, mail, and in-person channels are available

Voters can submit an application for an absentee ballot via three or more channels

North Carolina:

All registered voters receive an application

Ballot is accepted if postmarked by election day and received within 5 days from election day

Mail and in-person channels are available.

Voters can submit an application for an absentee ballot via three or more channels

Kentucky:

COVID-19 concerns are permitted to request an application

Ballot does not require a witness signature

Ballot is accepted if postmarked by election day and received beyond 5 or more day

Drop-off boxes, mail, and in-person channels are available

Voters can submit an application for an absentee ballot via three or more channels

Iowa:

All registered voters receive an application

Ballot does not require a witness signature

Ballot is accepted if postmarked by election day and received within 5 days from election day

Mail and in-person channels are available

Voters can submit an application for an absentee ballot via three or more channels

Kansas:

No excuse is required for an application

Ballot does not require a witness signature

Ballot is accepted if postmarked by election day and received within 5 days from election day

Mail and in-person channels are available

Voters can submit an application for an absentee ballot via three or more channels




West Virginia:

No excuse is required for an application

Ballot does not require a witness signature

Ballot is accepted if postmarked by election day and received beyond 5 or more days from election day

Mail and in-person channels are available

Voters can submit an application for an absentee ballot via three or more channels

North Dakota:

No excuse is required for an application

Ballot does not require a witness signature

Ballot is accepted if postmarked by election day and received beyond 5 or more days from election day

Mail and in-person channels are available

Voters can submit an application for an absentee ballot via three or more channels

Nebraska:

All registered voters receive an application

Ballot does not require a witness signature

Drop-off boxes, mail, and in-person channels are available

Voters can submit an application for an absentee ballot via three or more channels