By Joel B. Pollak for RealClearPolitics

The 2020 presidential election was neither free nor fair

Much of the debate has focused on the question of “voter fraud” — whether alleged violations of the rules moved enough votes in key states to overturn the outcome, or whether speculative theories about hacked voting machines and software should be taken seriously.

These claims remain unproven.

But while voting is the most important event in an election, it is not the only event, but the culmination of a process.

There are common international standards about what makes an election “free and fair.”

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These criteria, summarized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, include: the “absolute” right to a secret ballot; the right to “express political opinions without interference; [t]o seek, receive and impart information and to make an informed choice”; the right of candidates to “equal opportunity of access to the media”; the “right of candidates to security”; freedom of association, and others.

Many of these were violated in 2020.

“Fraud” was not as important as what Democrats were able to accomplish legally, for example, by pushing the country to adopt vote-by-mail on a massive scale.

The scientific basis for doing so was always dubious. South Korea and Israel both had national elections at the height of the pandemic in March and April, and both used in-person voting, almost exclusively.

Neither could be accused of a lax approach to COVID-19.

Never before had the country adopted an entirely new system of voting in the middle of an election, at the urging of one party, and over the objections of the other. 

Democrats also sued to lower the safeguards against fraud in absentee ballots.

The attorney leading many of those lawsuits, Marc Elias of Perkins Coie, was also the key figure in hiring Fusion GPS to produce the fraudulent “Russia dossier” in an attempt to smear Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

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Democrats preferred vote-by-mail because it allowed them to turn out low-propensity voters.

Republicans preferred voting in person — the standard practice worldwide — partly because of an attachment to tradition, but also because many Republican voters did not trust that mail-in ballots would remain secret or would be delivered at all by postal workers whose union had backed Democrat Joe Biden.

Republicans turned out voters; Democrats turned out envelopes.

Beyond that unfair advantage to Democrats, there were flagrant abuses of the principles that make an election free and fair.

Political violence was widespread, carried out almost entirely by left-wing groups alongside Black Lives Matter protests. Though most protests were peaceful, hundreds were not.

Forty-eight of the 50 largest U.S. cities experienced riots, as did many smaller towns.

Democrats minimized the violence and blamed police, or the president, for the unrest.

With the riots came a national panic that came to be known as “cancel culture.”

Conservatives feared speaking out lest they lose their jobs, their social media accounts, or their lives. A poll in July revealed that 77% of Republicans were afraid to share their political views.

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The extreme bias of the mainstream media also suppressed conservative and pro-Trump views.

Media fact-checkers cast Trump as a liar while ignoring Biden’s lies about Charlottesville and much else.

The 2020 election also featured unprecedented censorship. Google manipulated its search algorithm to bury conservative news.

Facebook and Twitter suppressed debate about the coronavirus.

In October, when the New York Post published credible allegations about Hunter Biden’s laptop and emails, which exposed Joe Biden’s past dissembling, Twitter and Facebook both censored the story.

Mainstream media applauded the censorship, and demanded more.

Other factors also made the 2020 election unfree and unfair.

The Commission on Presidential Debates was stacked against Trump, with one moderator caught conspiring with a prominent Trump critic.

An election-year impeachment, based on claims by a “whistleblower” whose very name was censored voluntarily by the press, cast the president as illegitimate.

Former military leaders, like Admiral William McRaven (Ret.), called for his removal, “the sooner, the better.”

Most of these abuses were legal. That is why the results of the election cannot simply be set aside.

When laws were broken — as in the nationwide riots — voters arguably delivered their own verdict, punishing Democratic candidates for the violence and for the party’s waffling on “defund the police.”

But we cannot pretend that what happened in 2020 was acceptable. It leaves many Republicans convinced that the system is “rigged” — even against a “red wave.”

We need to make urgent changes.

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If vote-by-mail cannot be reversed, it must be made more secure, or replaced with a secure, 100% American, and politically independent remote voting system.

Political parties must condemn violence unequivocally.

Big Tech must lose its immunity under Section 230, which it has abused. The Commission on Presidential Debates should be replaced. 

Above all, “free and fair” must be the standard to which American elections are held.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

Joel B. Pollak is senior editor-at-large at Breitbart News and the host of “Breitbart News Sunday” on Sirius XM Patriot. His newest e-book is “Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election.” He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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