STAFF EDITORIAL: Our democracy is stronger than your misinformation.

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a year of much civil unrest, political tension, and distrust in the nation’s leaders. On top of all that, the country has a president who likes to spread disinformation about the election process, dividing the country over what a democracy really looks like.

On Nov. 7, former Vice President Joe Biden was projected to become the next president of the United States. But sitting President Donald Trump says the election is far from over.

Trump has been pushing the voter fraud narrative since he first ran for the national highest office in 2016. But a critical assessment by law experts found that only somewhere between 0.0003% and 0.0025% of ballots are cast fraudulently — not near enough to affect the election results. 

In a 2014 study published in the Washington Post, researchers found just 31 cases of impersonation voter fraud in 14 years. In that time, voters across the U.S. cast more than 1 billion ballots.

So, what are the odds that large-scale voter fraud could actually impact the outcome of the election?

In a recently published New York Times piece, University of Chicago political science professor John Mark Hansen breaks down exactly what it would take for fraud to change the projected presidential winner.

One common but entirely unsubstantiated claim is that some Biden voters voted twice — once in person and once through mail. Hansen argues that this would be impossible.

If a voter tried to cast two ballots, they would risk felony persecution, fines, and imprisonment. You simply can’t walk into a polling place and vote a second time having already applied for a mail in ballot. Poll workers have access to voter information and can easily see when someone has already voted, rendering this theory invalid.

More people than ever before voted in this year’s election. But that’s no surprise, and definitely isn’t proof of fraud.

Everyone knew that this election was going to be different. Not only do we have an entire generation finally old enough to vote, but we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that opened many Americans’ eyes to how important and powerful our leaders are in controlling the nation’s response. 

Americans did their civil duty and went out and voted, many for the first time and some for the first time in a long time. It’s not voter fraud — it’s democracy. But Trump isn’t ready to accept the inconvenient fact that he lost.

Instead of conceding graciously as his predecessors have done, Trump has elected to file long-shot lawsuits and take the fight to the courts where he can continue to cast doubt on the electoral process.

So far, the Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia, and Michigan — all states where Biden either closely won or where the winner has yet to be called. 

Pennsylvania, the state whose 20 electoral votes propelled Biden across the 270 threshold he needed to win, is the central focus of the president’s litigation.

So, let’s talk about the Keystone State.

In 2016, Trump won Pennsylvania by 48.2% — roughly 40,000 more votes than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. In 2020, the gap that separates Biden and Trump is slightly smaller — with Biden holding a roughly 30,000-vote edge. The Associated Press estimates that 99% of votes have been counted.

Even though the win looks very similar to 2016, Trump still claims that many of Pennsylvania’s votes (well, the ones for Biden) are fraudulent and cannot be trusted. But, where is the proof?

Trump claims that his observers were not allowed fair access to watch the count, and for that reason, votes from “ineligible and deceased voters” were tallied. Yet again, the president speaks without merit. No proof, just words. 

What about the thousands of dead people who “voted”?

That rumor was debunked in another New York Times article that addresses the claim that 21,000 dead people voted for Biden in Pennsylvania. As it turns out, the article that Trump’s personal lawyer tweeted out as “proof” of the conspiracy was about a lawsuit filed in October by the Public Interest Legal Foundation that claimed Pennsylvania’s secretary of state added 21,206 deceased Pennsylvanians on voter rolls. The group filed the lawsuit to make sure the dead people didn’t get to cast their vote.

The court’s chief judge concluded that there was no proof — contradicting the group’s claim that the evidence was “filed under seal with the court.”

“We cannot and will not take plaintiff’s word for it — in an election where every vote matters, we will not disenfranchise potentially eligible voters based solely upon the allegations of a private foundation,” the judge said.

Trump pushing his voter fraud and unfair election claim is dangerous and must be stopped. 2020 has already been a year of unrest, division, tension, and distrust in the country, and stoking more doubt in American voting systems can only cause more damage.

We want facts. We want truth. We want the American people to decide an election, and when they decide, we need two candidates who are willing to accept the result and give the people the president they chose to run the country for the next four years. 

At The Sunflower, we believe every American has the fundamental right to voice their own opinion and vote for whomever they choose. What we don’t stand for is being a poor loser and stoking fear and distrust in the country’s voting system.