Why would Al Schmidt, GOP Philadelphia election commissioner, be “baffled” by election fraud claims?

Even though the fol­low­ing state­ment needs expla­na­tion to be ful­ly appre­ci­at­ed (forth­com­ing on the “offi­cial” pages of this site), it is not wrong to say that log­ic is all about relat­ing indi­vid­ual pieces of infor­ma­tion in a con­sis­tent way. “Consistent” means non-con­tra­dic­to­ry, or rather, rec­on­cil­able. An appar­ent ten­den­cy of two state­ments to appear incon­sis­tent calls for express dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tion in order to rec­on­cile them, with the log­i­cal­ly required depth of dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing dis­cus­sion depend­ing on the extent to which both pieces of infor­ma­tion appear similar.

The reproach of act­ing in an illog­i­cal way hits, thus, where state­ments are being made that bring relat­ed dec­la­ra­tions in the oppo­site direc­tion into rec­ol­lec­tion with­out express­ly dis­cussing what dif­fer­en­ti­ates the lat­ter from the former.

According to news­pa­per reports, Philadelphia GOP elec­tion com­mis­sion­er Al Schmidt has been “slap­ping down alle­ga­tions of wide­spread vot­er fraud”, expressed him­self “dumb­found­ed by the base­less accu­sa­tions and rumors that have been cir­cu­lat­ed about the elec­tion results” and “baf­fled by the situation”.

Given his doc­u­ment­ed pri­or pro­fes­sion­al expe­ri­ence, one would have expect­ed a dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing dis­cus­sion on his part, instead of an unsub­stan­ti­at­ed denial of in part very con­crete alle­ga­tions. The sub­stan­tial­ly relat­ed back­ground, dat­ing back to 2011, read against which Schmidt’s cur­rent state­ments appear want­i­ng, is laid out here:

The sole Republican among Philadelphia’s three-mem­ber city com­mis­sion­ers (the group that runs elec­tions) today issued a scathing report about the May pri­ma­ry in the city, alleg­ing a wide range of vot­ing irregularities.

He says his review found sev­en dif­fer­ent types of vot­ing issues, including:

“People vot­ing twice, vot­ing by non-cit­i­zens who are not eli­gi­ble to vote, to peo­ple vot­ing who are not reg­is­tered to vote, to peo­ple vot­ing in par­ties oth­er than their own.”

Also not­ed are instances of vot­ing by peo­ple in the wrong party’s pri­ma­ry, vot­ing by peo­ple in the wrong dis­trict, and divi­sions with more votes than voters.

Schmidt esti­mates the num­ber of such issues city­wide at between 200 and 1,000.

But he con­ced­ed that with­out a top-to-bot­tom review of the vot­ing books, he does not real­ly know how wide­spread the prob­lems are.

Democratic city com­mis­sion­er Stephanie Singer crit­i­cized Schmidt’s report as “put togeth­er in a hur­ry” and dis­missed Schmidt’s alle­ga­tions of inci­dents of vot­er impersonation.

Schmidt rec­om­mends sev­er­al changes, includ­ing that a com­plete, man­u­al review of all results be con­duct­ed after every election.

Singer says she sup­ports that con­cept but says her office cur­rent­ly lacks the com­put­er infra­struc­ture to do so.

So why would a GOP elec­tion com­mis­sion­er elect to not dis­cuss even the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the alleged vot­ing irreg­u­lar­i­ties took place this time around as well?

Somewhat “baf­fled” now our­selves, we took the time to go through the last months of his offi­cial Facebook posts, and we would pre­sume that many peo­ple famil­iar with the US polit­i­cal uni­verse would start to make prob­a­bilis­tic infer­ences and seek to fur­ther inves­ti­gate their valid­i­ty from con­tex­tu­al­ly con­tem­plat­ing two posts of which we pro­vide screen­shots below:

We do not have the time to lay out in desir­able detail the fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion that we our­selves indeed sum­mar­i­ly con­duct­ed, and there are always shades and nuances where peo­ple may come to dif­fer­ent con­clu­sions in good faith. Yet the shades and nuances in the entire process of per­cep­tion and pro­cess­ing of per­cep­tions with regard to the recent elec­tion and (not just US) pol­i­tics as a whole appear to be pre­cise­ly what is decid­ed­ly lack­ing, ever increas­ing­ly so, as crys­tal clear as the deci­sion of who the win­ner of the 2020 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion actu­al­ly is must ulti­mate­ly be.

It may appear that some peo­ple inter­est­ed in the out­come of the 2020 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion have some­what loos­ened their con­tact with well-doc­u­ment­ed real­i­ty. Among them, the the­o­ry is appar­ent­ly mak­ing the rounds that the alle­ga­tion of the mere pos­si­bil­i­ty of large scale – espe­cial­ly mail-in-bal­lot-based – vot­er fraud were to amount to spread­ing a “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry”.1

Yet strik­ing­ly sim­i­lar things to what the cam­paign for the Republican pres­i­den­tial can­di­date is alleg­ing may have hap­pened on a large scale in the most fierce­ly con­test­ed US “swing states” has in fact been ascer­tained to have hap­pened, with elec­tion-result-swing­ing out­come, in a court of law2 – utter­ly “unbe­liev­able”, but real. The cor­re­spond­ing media reports may pos­si­bly be worth an atten­tive, in part even enter­tain­ing read for any­one who favors con­fronting con­spir­a­cy real­i­ty over con­demn­ing “con­spir­a­cy theories”.

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/11/04/election-results-misinformation/; https://www.npr.org/2020/11/06/931888744/trump-latches-on-to-conspiracies-as-legal-battles-fail-and-path-to-win-narrows[]
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/apr/05/uk.localgovernment; https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/councillors-guilty-postal-votes-fraud-would-shame-banana-republic-5350422.html; high­ly illu­mi­nat­ing and inter­est­ing in this con­text, not least since it regards Pennsylvania, also Marks v. Stinson, https://casetext.com/case/marks-v-stinson, https://digitalcommons.law.villanova.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2930&context=vlr[]
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