'Rigged' election talk didn't start with Donald Trump

According to the Republican nominee for president, his opponents were “on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history.” In an ad, his campaign warned of “nationwide voter fraud” that could swing the election. His running mate worried, in a fundraising letter, that “leftist groups” were trying to “steal the election.”

The candidate was not Donald Trump. It was Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who in the final weeks of the 2008 presidential election embraced the theory that ACORN, a community organizing group previously embraced by Democrats and Republicans, was helping to rig the election for Barack Obama by filing fake voter registration forms.

In modern times, no candidate for president has questioned the election’s integrity more consistently and flagrantly than Trump. According to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll, conducted among 1,999 registered voters in the week after the second presidential debate, 73 percent of Republican voters now worry that their votes will not be counted.

That’s not all due to Trump. The idea that Democrats and their allies are rigging elections, either through control of machines in Democratic cities or through mass voter impersonation, is a mainstay of conservative politics – one that has powered legislation that is making it harder for some voters in Republican-controlled states such as Wisconsin to register this year. (ACORN ceased to exist after a conservative video sting recorded some of its staffers entertaining questions on how to get tax credits for prostitution, and a Democratic-controlled Congress ended its federal funding.)

“We’ve been around a long time; these guys who want to come in are rookies,” said Rep. Robert A. Brady, D-Pa., who represents much of Philadelphia. “We’re going to do everything right. These guys better not do anything to hinder the election, because it’d backfire completely on them. We’d put it out on the street, that they’re challenging black votes, and people will come out in droves. I hope they try to challenge everybody, because we’ll have lines and lines and lines.”

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