Never forget that the Republican party is the party of Roger Stone, Jacob Wohl and James O'Keefe. It's also the party of Karl Rove, the guy who once bugged his own office in order to frame an opponent.
It's the Fake-Out Party. The Conspiracy Party, if you will.
Earlier today, this link went to a DOJ announcement that nine absentee military ballots were found discarded in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The link no longer works because the story had to be revised. A bad sign, that. At first, U.S. Attorney David Freed said that all nine ballots were cast for Donald Trump; a later statement said that only seven ballots were Trump ballots. The revised story is here.
Obviously, this "discovery" is bogus. I am convinced that those discarded ballots were planted.
The purpose of this conspiracy is to buttress Trump's narrative that mailed ballots cannot be trusted. Even though absentee ballots have been used for far longer than I've been alive, and even though Trump himself votes absentee, the Republicans want the nation to mistrust the very concept of voting by mail.
As I've noted previously, mailed votes leave a paper trail, which means that a mailed vote is more trustworthy than a computerized vote. But there's another reason why Trump wants to discredit voting by mail: He does not want mailed votes counted on election night.
Polls clearly indicate that many more Democrats than Republicans intend to vote by mail, due to Covid fears. Absentee votes are generally counted last. Trump has made no secret of the fact that he wants to stop the vote count before the mailed ballots are tallied.
Hence the current exercise in political theater. From TPM:
Gerry Hebert, a former DOJ official who for several years worked in its voting section, said in an email that Thursday’s press release was “inconsistent with DOJ handbook for prosecuting election cases, which generally discourage public statements by DOJ re: ongoing investigations.”
The FBI does not talk about investigations in public. It is unheard-of to reveal such a thing prematurely. As I said: This is theater.
Revealing who the ballots were cast for was pure propaganda. From a legal perspective, the recipient of those votes is immaterial to the investigation.
Do Trump's ratfuckers always have to be this obvious? I miss Rove. He had more finesse.
Naturally, the entire right-wing propaganda machine pounced upon this story with an immediacy that suggests forewarning. Right-wing trolls instantly -- and I mean instantly -- flooded the internet with comments blasting liberal perfidy.
It was quite impressive to watch so many players coordinate their movements so precisely. Busby Berkley came to mind.
This story has a number of obvious absurdities. Here's a big one: Due to a longrunning dispute involving the Green Party's place on the ballot, there was a holdup in the issuance of ballots in Luzerne County. Ballots won't go out until October.
The exception: Ballots were sent out to military personnel on August 25. It's fair to posit that most of those ballots have not been cast yet. Perhaps none have been cast. Any ballots that were completed and sent in should have remained in their security envelopes. (The system uses two envelopes per ballot.)
The law clearly states that ballots are not to be opened until election day. Anyone opening those envelopes risked jail.
Who would have had access? Ballots coming in from overseas would have ended up in the possession of the Luzerne County Election Bureau...
...which is controlled by Republicans.
Let us posit that a hypothetical Dem malefactor lurks within that Republican-controlled office. Let us visualize said malefactor tearing open envelope after envelope in search of Trump votes. In doing so, our hypothetical Dem malefactor would have ruined potential Democratic ballots.
Consider this headline from earlier this month: Trump Losing The Military Vote, A Traditional Republican Bloc.
A stunt like this might well have reduced the Biden vote. So why would our hypothetical Dem malefactor do such a thing? Doesn't make sense.
Speaking of things that don't make sense: Why on earth would our hypothetical Dem malefactor dump the evidence where it could easily be found? Why not burn it?
We are told that the material was found in a dumpster. Who rummaged through this dumpster, and why? Usually, only very poor people scrounge through garbage, and the desperate don't care about politics.
If I were discarding evidence of a crime -- and if I possessed neither a match nor a shredder -- I'd place the material in a dark plastic bag filled with dog doo or some other icky gunk. Then I'd toss that bag into some random suburbanite's garbage can. Problem solved.
Was that dumpster adjacent to the Luzerne County Elections Bureau? News stories do not so state, but a close reading of the available material suggests that such was indeed the case. I strongly suspect that the ballots were meant to be found.
Perhaps they were "found" by the person who placed them in that dumpster to begin with. Again: Republicans control that office.
From the revised DOJ press release:
Investigators have recovered nine ballots at this time. Some of those ballots can be attributed to specific voters and some cannot. Of the nine ballots that were discarded and then recovered, 7 were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump. Two of the discarded ballots had been resealed inside their appropriate envelopes by Luzerne elections staff prior to recovery by the FBI and the contents of those 2 ballots are unknown
Strangeness abounds here. "Some" can be attributed to specific voters? "Some" indicates more than two.
Each ballot was in two separate envelopes, and only the outermost envelope would display the voter's name. One would have to open both envelopes to determine that a vote was cast for Trump.
Are we supposed to believe that the malefactor tore open the envelopes then placed the ballots back inside opened envelopes?
Are we also supposed to believe that two of the nine envelopes were opened in such a way that they could be resealed? A CIA flaps-and-seals expert could do the trick, but I doubt that someone at the Luzerne County Elections Board would have the necessary skill set. Anyone who did have the skills would have used those skills in all instances, and would have been much more professional in disposing of the evidence.
Finally: Why? What's the motive?
Nine ballots are extremely unlikely to affect an election. But concocting a bogus incident of this sort definitely benefits Trump's propaganda campaign. Those nine ballots could give Trump all the "evidence" he needs to call a premature end to the vote count on election night.
The Democrats lack motive. Only the Republicans had any motive to stage this bit of theater.
As I keep saying: Real conspiracies do exist. The conspiracy theorists are the conspirators.
Don't be surprised to see a rash of similar incidents in the near future. Just now, I fleetingly saw a reference to a similar case in Wisconsin -- another battleground state where Trump would love to halt the tallying before the absentee ballots are counted. Frankly, I've not yet read the relevant news stories coming out of Wisconsin.
The important point is this: Such "dumpings" were previously unknown in the long history of absentee voting. So why now?