When All You Have Is A Hammer, Everything Looks Like A Scorecard

This is the longest election day yet.

Lately I’ve been following a lot of lawyers on Twitter so I can read their tweet-throughs of the various post-election legal cases and filings by Team Trump and adjacent clown lawyers such as Sidney Powell. Many of them are poorly done enough that even a sufficiently dedicated layperson can see they have problems, but it takes real legal expertise to break down exactly how many problems.

Mike Dunford (@questauthority on Twitter) pointed this tidbit out on Twitter last night.

To expand on it: Dr. Appel was talking about a different machine, years ago, made by a different company. The bolded remarks have nothing to do with this election. And even if it was a current machine, and had been used in Georgia (the state in question in this case)… he’s not alleging that anyone actually did this. He’s not saying he put his program on any machines and changed votes, nor is he suggesting there’s any reason to think anyone did.

In Trumpland, though, this statement — the mere existence of a program anywhere to change votes on a machine — is prima facie evidence of fraud. This is one of the things that you’ll be told if you ask a red hat on Twitter where there’s any evidence of fraud: Dr. Andrew Appel admitted to it!

And the thing is that if you’re just reading the filing and you see that paragraph in isolation, it’s very easy to mentally go, “Well, obviously this must relate to the broader claims that they’re making” and assume the connective tissue that would make it so is present, or else what is the point of bringing it up? These cases are full of such disconnected random factoids and suppositions.

Separate from Dr. Appel’s irrelevant earlier remarks, there’s a widespread article of faith among Trumpian true believers about a supercomputer nicknamed “Hammer” that was used to hack the results in realtime in a program called “Scorecard”. Snopes has a breakdown of that conspiracy theory, including all the places where it breaks down.

If all of the suppositions of voter fraud that make up both the legal cases and the elaborate social media mythologies were true, it would mean that the CIA was changing votes remotely, while computer experts were taking apart machines with screwdrivers to get at their firmware, while people were manufacturing counterfeit ballots, while other people were throwing out Trump ballots or counting them as Biden votes.

With so many different people trying to change the results in so many different ways, it’s a wonder that they didn’t wind up flipping the results back and forth, like the episode of Doctor Who where two different versions of the Doctor both try to reverse the polarity of a particular neutron flow at the same time.

And it’s an even bigger wonder that with all of these different types of fraud, nobody can attest that they actually saw fraud as it was happening and no forensic evidence of fraud has turned up. Just endless affidavits from poll watchers who skipped the training sessions and then were upset that they didn’t understand what they saw on election night, and from “data analysts” who insist that any results that don’t conform to their preferences or expectations are inexplicable.

This is unlikely to be enough for a court of law, but at the end of the day, it’s enough for the MAGA crowd, because they know in their hearts of hearts that fraud must have happened, or else how did they lose in spite of the size of their plague rallies and their boat-sinking parades?

To them, it’s not necessary to prove fraud, only to show ways that fraud could have maybe kind of sort of happened. Because they operate on faith that it did happen, any supposition about how it might have happened, no matter how tangential or far-fetched, is what must have happened.

Some machines somewhere could have been hacked by an expert with a screwdriver and a pre-programmed computer chip? Then these machines here in these states and districts that mattered must have been hacked, and anywhere else it mattered.

To put a new spin on an old saying: when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a scorecard.