Conjugating Fraud in the Conditional Tense

keep-calm-and-think-twice-17It’s an emotional time. People are disoriented, hurt, and angry. Cooler heads generally don’t  prevail at times like these. Still, this post is an exercise in encephalic cryogenics.

Yes, Juan makes a powerful emotional case. But this much I know: the question of who got more votes on April 14th matters.

At the moment, there’s a worrying sense in which Capriles is arguing in the conditional tense. More than “I got more votes on April 14th and therefore I won”, what we’re getting  is something like “X, Y and Z fraudulent things happened on April 14th and if X, Y and Z had not happened, I would have gotten more votes, and therefore I won.” #NiEsLoMismoNiEs…

That X, Y and Z fraudulent things happened is not really in dispute. It’s the second part of that that’s just fundamentally problematic, and when emotion is running this high it’s hard for people to realize just how problematic it is. Because counterfactuals – what would have happened if such and such had been different – are unknowable.

En mi pueblo, they used to say that if my grandmother had had a handlebar she would’ve been a bicycle. But, of course, I don’t really know that: maybe she would have been a tricycle. Or a motorcycle. Maybe if none of the incidencias the Comando Simón Bolívar has documented had taken place Capriles would’ve won by 10,000 votes…or maybe he would have lost by 10,000 votes. We don’t know. We can’t know.

What worries me is that Capriles isn’t really alleging numerical fraud. Just the opposite, Capriles is being quite careful not to say “I am the rightful winner because I can prove, through my actas, that I got more votes.”

He’s calling for a recount of all paper ballots, but if there was reason to believe that a 100% recount would show he had won more votes on the day, he would have the evidence for that. So far that evidence has been forthcoming only in tiny fragments, fragments that seem tangential to his central case. I cannot believe that if the comando had systematic evidence of audit tallies that failed to match the machine tallies they would have “forgotten” to show it by now.

Now, at a time like this, nobody wants to be the buzzkill. But I see people working themselves into a lather as though the little detail about who actually got more votes on the day was inconsequential. It’s not.

Since nobody else is saying it,  I will: in the two places that matter right now – the international community and the armed forces – a fraud claim conjugated in the conditional is just not going to cut it.

If you’re serious about convincing the not-already-convinced that you’re the rightful winner of an election, the price of entry is showing evidence that on the day of the vote more people voted for you than for the other guy. There is no way around this.

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