Mark Tapson is the Shillman Fellow on Popular Culture for the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
The presidential election in November is shaping up to be potentially the most contentious ever, thanks to the stakes involved, the threat of violence from the radical left, the disruptive element of the coronavirus pandemic, and the Democrat Party’s desperate push for voting-by-mail to facilitate the voter fraud they need to win. Just in time for this chaos, investigative journalist, author, and frequent FrontPage Mag contributor Kenneth Timmerman has published a fast-paced novel titled The Election Heist, from Post Hill Press, that could not be more relevant and prescient.
This page-turner of a political thriller centers on election tampering in a fictional race in Maryland pitting the incumbent Democrat Rep. Hugh McKenzie against first-time challenger Nelson Aguilar, an Hispanic Republican. In a classic case of art imitating life, the Democrats realize their only hope of winning this November is to cheat. A wild ride ensues.
In addition to serving as the Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, Ken Timmerman is the Nobel Prize-nominated author of such must-reads as: Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi; Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender; and Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson, in addition to novels such as ISIS Begins and Honor Killing. He kindly agreed to respond to a few questions about his new fact-driven novel.
Mark Tapson: Ken, you’ve written fiction before, but you’re known primarily for journalism. Why did you choose to address this contentious election issue in a novel instead of nonfiction?
Ken Timmerman: Thanks, Mark, for this opportunity. For most of my adult professional life, I have considered myself an investigative reporter – at least, for as long as that was a reputable profession. Today, the national news media has dragged the professional into such ill-repute that journalists have a lower favorability rating than do members of Congress. Just look at the despicable performance of Chris Wallace at the first Trump-Biden debate. I used to be a guest on Chris Wallace’s shows – and on 60 Minutes with his father – when I was a critic of a Republican president (Bush 41). No longer. It tells you something.
There have been a number of nonfiction books looking at election fraud in recent years, most notably by my good friend John Fund, formerly of the Wall Street Journal. None of them have been taken seriously. Groups such as Judicial Watch and the Public Interest Legal Foundation have been warning for years about “dirty” voter rolls, and the threat of millions of illegitimate votes “cast” by the dead or by people who have moved to other states.
Most recently, Project Veritas documented a ballot harvesting scheme in Minnesota that appears to have been organized by activists close to Rep. Ilhan Omar. But what has been the response to all of these revelations by the media or the Democrats? “There is no such thing as voter fraud.”
So I felt it would be salutary to demonstrate, from the inside, on a human level, exactly how partisan operatives could plan and executive a massive diabolical scheme to steal an election, and how difficult it would be for law enforcement and election authorities to discover it, let alone prosecute those responsible. By writing a novel, I allow readers to suspend their disbelief and follow my characters as they plot and scheme, while others play catch up, knowing that everything they are attempting to do is possible, if not inevitable.
What if I had written an investigative column in the summer of 2016, based on unnamed sources within the FBI, that Hillary Clinton had instructed her staff to manufacture a phony scandal tying Donald Trump to Russia, in order to divert public attention from her use of a private email server for classified government communications? It would have been dismissed as “fake news,” if not worse. Quite likely, my career as a journalist would have been over.
But if I had written that scheme – which turned out to be 100% true – as a novel, I would have been called a prophet, another Joel Rosenburg.
I have long believed fiction precedes reality – not so much that a novelist can predict the future, but that he or she can project the big picture, how it will feel, what it will mean. That’s what I’ve tried to do in The Election Heist.
MT: Your book presents a very eye-opening, deeply-researched, alarming view of vote-tabulating processes and security vulnerabilities. Do you have any thoughts about how the election process can be streamlined and protected from the various methods of tampering you describe, so Americans can have confidence again that their votes matter?
KT: The many vulnerabilities of our election systems I have described in The Election Heist are very real and have been documented by multiple sources, including at a recent hackers convention. Some of them I have witnessed firsthand as a Republican Congressional nominee. Without a doubt, the most novel of them involves the ability to penetrate the newest generation of electronic vote tabulating machines – the scanners that tens of millions of Americans will encounter in the coming weeks during early voting or on election day. (And if they don’t vote in person, these same machines will tabulate their absentee/mail-in ballots).
I have not exposed any vulnerability that experienced intelligence operatives, or moderately skilled hackers, have not already explored. What is shocking to me is that the overwhelming majority of our election supervisors take the attitude that they have their systems “under control,” and that it can’t happen to them. They believe that because their systems are “air-gapped” from the Internet, they cannot be penetrated. Think again! Or rather, read The Election Heist and learn just how that can happen.
It takes only a few absolutely corrupt individuals, with modest financial resources, technical flair, and nerves of steel to carry out such a plot – and, of course, the political enablers who encourage them to cheat and cut them loose when they fear they could be caught.
In the book, two alert election supervisors in Florida and an elections IT employee in Maryland get suspicious of the election night results and begin probing whether they are legitimate. As readers will discover, even well-meaning officials do not have free reign to deploy their suspicions: they are constrained by a multitude of laws and regulations. So I had to devise a scenario, in keeping with existing laws, that would allow the two Florida supervisors of elections to audit the electronic tabulators, while keeping within the limited time allowed them by law to certify the election results.
We do not need to streamline election procedures to prevent an election “heist.” We certainly don’t need a single, nationwide standard – which would be much easier to hack. Ironically, having 10,000 different election systems, county by county, is actually a strength in that in makes it virtually impossible for a foreign actor – think Russia, China, or Iran – to hijack our elections, because of the sheer scope of such an operation. What foreign power could have operatives at thousands of polling stations and county election headquarters with access to the electronic tabulators that count the paper ballots on election night and beyond? The answer is: none.
But both American political parties have such broad reach – indeed, they are legally encouraged and in some cases required to have a presence whenever ballots are handled. What if a small number of those officials conspired by, say, discarding military ballots they knew had been voted for Trump, or by fabricating vote-by-mail ballots in inner-city precincts where they knew no Republicans were present?
If you are voting by mail in this election, many states allow you to track the status of your absentee/mail-in ballot. You should check to make sure your ballot was received, and that it was authenticated. Large numbers of absentee ballots are regularly rejected because of mismatched signatures, which can occur when signatures are forged, or when voters have not updated their signatures on record for many years.
When it comes to the larger scheme I describe in The Election Heist, the only remedy is the honesty and innate decency of election officials, and where that fails, intrepid and courageous election officials who smell a rat and pursue it.
MT: You actually finished the book in February and it’s already turning out to be very prescient – featuring, for example, scenes in which Antifa shock troops rampage through New York and attack police officers. What kind of an influence do you think the threat of far-left violence both prior to and after the election will have on voters, and do you think we’ll see a lot of voter intimidation by Antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters at the polls?
KT: I believe Antifa and Black Lives Matter form an integral part of the Democrat Party playbook for 2020. In The Election Heist, we see the national Democrat campaign actually deploy them to create chaos and a popular groundswell to “Certify now!” in states where the Democrat nominees were ahead thanks to hacked election results. I believe the “peaceful protests” we have witnessed over the past five months were just warmup exercises before the big game. Get ready, folks. If you think it’s nasty now, just wait until the voting starts.
MT: The behind-the-scenes political maneuvering in the book rings very true. Are there any elements of the story drawn from your own personal experience running for Congress? Also, I got the impression that some of your fictional characters are based on or inspired by real-life politicos, their advisers, and figures in the news media – or did I simply read that into it?
KT: I doubt I would have written The Election Heist if I hadn’t witnessed some of these election fraud schemes take place in real life when I was a Republican nominee for Congress in Maryland in 2012. Maryland has a long history of stolen elections. Just think 1994, when Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey was well ahead until 3 a.m. on election night, when the Baltimore graveyards awoke and voted as one for her opponent.
In my case, election workers followed a BMW with Washington, D.C. plates carrying five young men who voted at multiple polling places in my district, presumably using identities supplied to them ahead of time. We witnessed touchscreen voting machines vote Obama, when the voter said they had voted Romney. We did a post-election audit in one precinct and found that an abnormally high percentage of independents willingly disclosed they had voted for me. If the touchscreen tallies were accurate, this would have meant that I had lost something like half of the Republican base – a result that did not show up in the Republican counties.
But try to prove such things? Every time we went to the board of elections, our objections and our evidence was simply dismissed. Most decent people have an innate rejection of evil: they simply can’t believe it exists – until it overwhelms them and it’s too late. Hence, the value of fiction: training the mind through imagination.
My main characters – the Republican congressional nominee, Nelson Aguilar, the Democrat incumbent congressman Hugh McKenzie, their families and close staff (e.g., the “Crocodile”)– are all composite figures. So is T. Claudius Granger, the most devious of the lot, the “man with no first name” who emerged from the Chicago street gangs to become the ultimate fixer for a Democrat presidential nominee who realizes she cannot win without tilting the scales. This is how any weaver of entertainments works, in my view: a quirk here, an obsession there, blended into an overall purpose of character or “through line” that the “original(s)” were not aware they possessed. That is the art of fiction.
MT: Considering how suspiciously hard the Democrats have been pushing for voting-by-mail, how much of a role do you think election tampering and/or voter fraud will play in November’s election? And would you care to make an educated prediction about the outcome of the election?
KT: In some ways, The Election Heist is tame compared to the demolition derby of the past eight months. A record-setting economy shattered by the Chinese virus. Then the oh-so-orchestrated riots across the country, straining the very tissue that binds us together as a nation. Then the death of a Supreme Court Justice and the nomination of her replacement. And now, the president falling victim to COVID and the Democrats saying that justifies delaying the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett.
Through all of this, a few constants: the extraordinary energy and willpower of President Trump. He will recover from COVID and come out with renewed energy and drive. We will not see him retreat to the basement, as Joe Biden has done for months.
Second, the utter despicable nature of the national media has become obvious to most Americans. Just look at some of the commentary surrounding the president’s illness.
Third, for reasons only forensic psychiatrists will ultimately explain, President Trump has triggered a significant minority of our population, setting off a mental state you might call aggressive sociopathic dementia. When normally quiet neighbors suddenly accost you on the sidewalk hurling f-bombs about the president, you know something is amiss. That “something” is enough to trigger them to do things they would not normally do, such as harvesting absentee ballots, forging signatures, preventing Republicans from registering to vote or even voting. We will see this all across the country.
This said, I believe the depth and breadth of the president’s coalition that we see in his rallies is a force that will ultimately prove victorious. I predict a repeat of 2016: a 306 electoral college victory, but with wider margins in Pennsylvania and the Midwest, with the possible addition of Minnesota, making it 316.
Trump will win Florida thanks in part to the Cuban vote. That means the only way for Biden to win without cheating is to win Pennsylvania and to sweep the “rust belt” states, which I don’t believe he can do.
MT: From your lips to God’s ear, Ken. Thanks for your time.
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