The Problem With “No Evidence of Voter Fraud”

Sherlock Holmes

There is an asymmetry in the way that those on the left and those on the right discuss voter fraud and similar subjects.

On the right they talked about how there is voter fraud. On the left we talk about how there was no evidence of voter fraud. This is bad.

To most people this sounds like those on the left are splitting hairs. Saying that there is no evidence of fraud implies that there might be fraud, “Sure, there’s no evidence of voter fraud but we all know there is, right?”

In terms of science, it is good to make clear that there is no evidence. You want to be nuanced and only say things that you know are true. But in that situation, the other scientists wouldn’t be stating that there is voter fraud as a matter of fact. They would be saying, “Here is the evidence of voter fraud.”

Rhetorical Catastrophe

From a rhetorical standpoint, this is catastrophic. People on the right are making a simple declarative statement: “There is voter fraud!” The counter to that must be as emphatic: “There is no voter fraud!”

If evidence does eventually appear that shows there is the kind of voter fraud conservatives claim, then we can either change what we believe or make more nuanced arguments. But until then, the argument should go like this:

Con: There is voter fraud!
Lib: There is no voter fraud!
Con: How can you say that?!
Lib: Show me the evidence! You say this but you never provide evidence. And that’s because tons of people on your side have looked into it and found nothing. There is no voter fraud!

Notice what’s not happening here: we aren’t countering their statement with a less-clear statement that uses their framing of the issue. I realize that to a reasonable person, this is nonsense. You shouldn’t have to counter absurd claims with their opposite. But no one counters “Angels are real!” with “There is no evidence that angels are real.” Or at least if you do you look like an idiot.

In general when talking about things, you don’t talk about evidence. You don’t say there’s no evidence that I have cancer. You say I don’t have cancer. In the absence of evidence, you don’t assume something that’s unusual.

Tell It Like It Is

So people on the left sound like disingenuous assholes when they can’t spit out the equivalent of, “Bullshit!” People on the right at least sound like they actually believe what they’re saying.

So all over I’m hearing Republicans saying that there’s a huge amount of voter fraud. And people on the left are saying no there’s no evidence of voter fraud. Or even worse they’re saying there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Why can’t we just make a declarative statement?! There is no voter fraud! If Republicans want to come back and say yes there is and here’s the evidence, fine! But this is just bullshitting.

The truth is that people on the left think they’re being careful and honest. And they’re paid back with disbelief.

Let’s stop this nonsense. There’s no evidence that a teapot is orbiting the Sun between the Earth and Mars. But no one says that. They just say that there’s no teapot because there’s no reason to believe there is a teapot! If someone wants to say that there is a teapot, then they better be willing to present evidence that there is a teapot orbiting the Sun! How fucking hard is this?!


Sherlock Holmes image by OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

14 thoughts on “The Problem With “No Evidence of Voter Fraud”

    • This whole thing is, I believe, a win-win ploy for Republicans.

      A: half-court shot at the buzzer. They somehow get various Republican-led state legislatures to certify different electors, and the Supremes to agree, and whoopie hurrah.

      B: easy layup. You convince 66% of Republican voters (or 33%, doesn’t matter) that Democrats only win via fraud in “urban” areas. Hence justifying further voter suppression, McConnell obstructionism, etc.

      They can’t lose. And I’ve read nonsense which says “but they’ll never have another candidate as magnetic as Trump.” Please. You just need some TV figure who’s down on their luck and has ego to spare. Bill O’Reilly might be available, if he’s wasted his fortune as badly as Trump did.

      Years ago, I came in for work on a shift change, and the person I was relieving said “you’re fired.” What? Huh? “You’re fired.” I didn’t think that person had authorization to fire me, I was very confused.

      They explained it was the catchphrase of a new Donald Trump reality show, and I thought, “yah, I vaguely remember that guy.”

      • Okay, there are a LOT of right-wing celebrities out there, if you want to go that route

        Some haven’t even otherwise significantly embarrassed themselves

        • James Woods 2024! (He’s already been in a made-for-TV movie where he played “sexy Giuliani.”)

          • Have I mentioned the difference between James Woods interviewed in the late-90s and last year? It wasn’t about politics. But it was clear he’s lost 20 IQ points.

        • The Number One way they embarrass themselves is by whining about how much bigger a star they would be if they weren’t conservative. I suspect the opposite is the case. Liberals like to think of themselves as inclusive.

      • I do think they will have trouble getting as fired up. Trump thrilled the base because he called Mexicans rapists. The next person will have to go higher. That’s why I think there’s a good chance Trump will be the nominee in 2024.

    • So much of what conservatives think of liberals is pure projection. And it feeds back on itself: once they’ve convinced themselves that 3 million Mexicans voted illegally, it encourages them to commit voter fraud.

  1. My problem with this is that when Lib says “show me the evidence,” Con presents it. It may be nonsense and misleading, but they have a lot of stuff to throw at the wall. Then we have to dig in to debunking them one by one, and they’ll always come back with “well, there’s plenty more out there.” So I’m not sure we end up in a better place.

    • Sure, that’s how they roll. Same as they’ve done with global warming; “here’s some data to prove it’s not!” Toss enough overcooked pasta at the wall and some of it will stick.

      I read a newspaper column, years ago, which described this perfectly. A Saint Paul columnist went to a “town hall” meeting in rural northern Minnesota. It was billed as a “town hall”; it was actually a test-subject focus group paid for by some spooky-ass conservative foundation. The people running it tossed out idea after idea until they found one that fired up northern Minnesotans.

      Guess what the hot issue was? Illegal immigrants! Because, you know, people sneaking over the border from Winnipeg is a whole deal, they come here to take our generous welfare and free healthcare.

      The columnist couldn’t believe it — don’t northern Minnesotans have bigger issues to mull? Foresting, mining, and such? But that’s how Republicans do — they will test this s**t out in everywhere, all over the country, and find out what sticks.

      Trump didn’t give five farts about Obama’s birth certificate, but it stuck.

      • This is why I am so cynical about the future of humanity. It’s easier to get people upset about things that don’t affect them. People in zero-crime rural areas are the most concerned about crime. People love bullshit so much that I’m shocked we haven’t gone extinct due to sepsis.

        • I just read a thing about Iowa Obama voters who went for Trump. And people interviewed were saying, they supported police reform — but “defund the police” was too much!

          Forget that “defund” doesn’t mean what they think it does — who in the Democratic Party says any such thing? Not Biden. Not Harris.

          They mentioned “the squad.” Ok, who are they?

          Rep. Tlaib — Detroit. Long history of police brutality.
          Rep. Alexandria-Cortez — Bronx. Same.
          Rep. Pressley — Boston. Ever seen “The Departed”?
          Rep. Omar — Um, Minneapolis, duh.

          They’re representing their constituents! Isn’t that what politicians are supposed to do? I’d assume Iowans would feel pretty annoyed if their representatives didn’t talk about corn subsidies.

    • Part of the problem is that the media is determined to not call foul. But I disagree to some extent. They never have evidence. They have things like, “There’s a guy in Chicago who voted as his dead mother!” It isn’t just that it’s anecdotal; it’s usually not even true. I heard someone today say, “I know a bunch of guys who vote as their dead parents!” If I had been talking to him, I would have said, “That’s illegal! I’ll take you to the police to report this crime! You know that not reporting it makes you complicit, right?” And I’m sure I would then get, “Well, I’ve heard of guys…” And I have heard of ancient aliens!

      Conservatives are experts at throwing out shit and hoping something sticks. I just don’t see any reason for liberals to say, “There is no evidence that isn’t shit”!

      • Well, there’s a QAnon person in Congress, now. I’d say, “investigate that!” I mean, if people are harvesting baby blood for Satan, we should stop it. Congress has pretty enormous investigative powers.

        This is actually good re-election strategy. You won’t find anything, and then you can claim that’s proof how deep the conspiracy goes. They should hire me as campaign strategist, I’d be better than Bannon. I have the advantage of being objective; Bannon actually believes his own shit.

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