- - Thursday, October 20, 2016


Donald Trump created a media firestorm when he gave an unconventional and surprising response on whether he would accept the election results. He said that he would “look at” it and ended “I’ll keep you in suspense.” Hillary Clinton called his response “horrifying,” despite other Democrats who have questioned our election results and systemic fraud in the past.

While Mr. Trump’s response became the lead story and a strategic mistake and a distraction for his campaign, he had an opportunity to address the broader issue of how the United States can improve the voting process to benefit our democracy overall.

Following the debate, the media, Democrats and some Republicans piled on with an onslaught of criticism. Mr. Trump attempted to give a straightforward answer, yet it quickly backfired and his campaign surrogates spent 24 hours clarifying his position and stating that he would accept the results at the end. It gave his opponents another reason to point the finger at Mr. Trump and criticize him as “unfit” to be president and a threat to American democracy and our election system.

President Obama spoke at a Florida rally and stated that Mr. Trump talking about fraud “undermines our democracy,” yet seasoned Democratic political operative James Carville stated in an MSNBC interview “of course there is going to be some fraud.” Pretending that voter fraud does not exist puts the integrity of our voting process at risk. It is the responsibility of both parties and the states to ensure that the election is not “rigged,” and appropriate steps are taken to reduce voter fraud.

There are conflicting reports on the extent of voter fraud in the United States. The Brennan Center for Justice claims that voter fraud is “very rare, voter impersonation is nearly non-existent, and much of the problems associated with alleged fraud in elections relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators.” Yet the Heritage Foundation documented 400 cases of voter fraud in their database. Reports have uncovered incidents of dead people or illegal immigrants voting in different states. And now the new reality exists that foreign entities could hack voting machines, which could impact the race.

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The American people are aware of the possibility of voter fraud and potential cyberattacks. Even Mrs. Clinton recognizes the severity of possible Russian interference in our elections. In a recent The Economist/YouGov poll, 72 percent of respondents said they were very or somewhat concerned about the security of the electoral system.

James O’Keefe from Project Veritas unraveled the dirty tricks of the Democrats related to voter fraud. In a recently released video, New York Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner Alan Schulkins admitted to voter fraud and confirmed that especially in minority communities, “they put them in a bus and go poll site to poll site.” Mr. O’Keefe also went undercover in North Carolina and was able to obtain multiple ballots without a photo ID.

While the United States is a prime example of fair elections, there is room for improvement, starting with passing voter identification laws across the country. Both political parties and the states have a responsibility to ensure that the election is not “rigged” and that voter fraud is reduced. Voter fraud especially matters when elections are close. We learned that lesson in the 2000 presidential election. What makes America’s election system unique is the fact that even when elections are close, we find a resolution, which leads to the peaceful transition of power that remains one of the most important tenets of our democracy.

Both Republicans and Democrats, including Mrs. Clinton, should not ignore that voter fraud exists in our country. The Democrats should not diminish the concerns of millions of Americans and our own intelligence agencies that our voting process can be compromised both from within and outside the United States. However, Mr. Trump’s answer became part of a bigger story that he was attempting to undermine our democracy by potentially not accepting the election results. A better response would have been to simply say that he would accept the results win or lose and focus on the voter fraud and voter security issue that Democrats are minimizing.

If the election is close and Mr. Trump loses, the rigged election narrative will remain front and center.

Mercedes Schlapp is a Fox News contributor, co-founder of Cove Strategies and former White House director of specialty media under President George W. Bush.

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