In the wake of the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump, some of his key advisers, high-profile Congressional Republicans, and data analysts claimed that misconduct and fraud were widespread enough to have affected the results.
Analyst Matt Braynard of the Voter Integrity Project published the findings of his comprehensive review of public data on the 2020 election on November 24, 2020, claiming that he could not say with certainty who won the election. However, a statement from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency claimed that the election was the “most secure in American history.”
While Democrats insist that the latter of the two statements is true, it’s hard to ignore the party’s history of calling foul after elections didn’t go their way. 2004 is probably the best example of that.
Democrats’ Widespread Rejection of 2004’s Election Results
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry conceded the 2004 election, but both he and his running mate John Edwards continued to believe that the election had been stolen from them and possibly through electronic voting machines.
In fact, many of Kerry’s own supporters rallied behind him in the wake of the election, arguing that George Bush’s victory was fraudulent. BlackBoxVoting.org and StolenElection2004.com both argued that electronic voting machines had been tampered with to favor Bush.
Progressive Rep. Maxine Waters of California also pushed a theory that Kerry votes were switched to Bush votes in large numbers by electronic machines. She also claimed that a sufficient number of voters had been purged from the voter rolls in Ohio, giving Bush a victory in the state and therefore winning the presidency.
Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe also very publicly claimed that the 2004 election was rigged. After being elected as the Democratic National Committee chairman, McAuliffe delivered a scathing speech accusing Republicans of winning the White House through an improper campaign.
Democrats often insist, however, that their rejection of 2004’s results is very different from Trump supporter’s objection to 2020’s results.
Why It’s The Same
In 2005, as the electoral college votes were being certified, Rep. Nancy Pelosi accepted the result of the election – but she also expressed her concern about the integrity of the election and objected to the counting of Ohio’s Electoral College votes.
“Under the rule of law today, this House will accept the election of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. There is absolutely no question about that,” she said on the House floor. “It is instead to discuss the real problems with our electoral system.”
Former California Senator Barbara Boxer echoed that sentiment in a tweet in December 2020, noting that she worked with Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones in 2005 to focus on Ohio voter suppression.
“We said up front it wasn’t about overturning the election. GOP phony complaints orchestrated by a dangerous sore loser are about overturning an election deemed the most secure ever,” she said.
However, many high-profile Republicans argue that their concerns about the 2020 presidential election are not a matter of wanting to blindly overturn the results, but are instead rooted in a deep concern about the integrity of the election.
Senator Josh Howley of Missouri defended his decision to object to the Electoral College votes on January 6, writing in the Southeast Missourian that many of his constituents have “deep concerns about election integrity.”
“For months, I heard from these Missourians — writing, calling my office, stopping me to talk. They want Congress to take action to see that our elections at every level are free, fair, and secure. They have a right to be heard in Congress,” he wrote.
Louisiana Senator John Kennedy said in a statement that he objected to the certification of Arizona’s Electoral College votes to give people a voice.
“I joined several Senate colleagues in calling for a bipartisan commission to inspect election issues raised across the country. Our proposal was not successful, but our goal to ensure full confidence and transparency in our elections — for all Americans — is a noble one, and I’ll keep pursuing it,” he said in a statement.
Republicans had concerns about the integrity of 2020’s presidential election in the same way Democrats had concerns in 2004.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and report on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.