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COVID-19 Infections Detected in Dried Blood Spots via At-Home Proteomic Profiling

Scientists from KTH Royal Institute of Technology and other institutions in Sweden have published details of a study that used deep proteome profiling…



In the years since the emergence of COVID-19, scientists have learned a lot about how the infection works and some of its long-term effects on various systems in the body. A lot of research so far has focused on the effects of severe cases of the disease. What’s less clear are the long-term physiological effects of infections on people with mild symptoms or who were asymptomatic. Scientists from KTH Royal Institute of Technology and other institutions in Sweden aimed to shed some light on this question by analyzing antibodies in dried blood samples from the general population collected using at-home kits.

In a new paper published in Communications Medicine titled, “Proteome profiling of home-sampled dried blood spots reveals proteins of SARS-CoV-2 infections,” the authors explained how they used deep proteome profiling of home-sampled dried blood spots (DBS) to assess the effects of SARS-CoV-2 in mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic individuals in urban areas in Sweden. “In clinical plasma and serum samples, in-depth proteomic analysis has already delivered valuable insights into the pathology and pathogenesis of COVID-19,” the researchers wrote. “Our DBS study aimed to demonstrate the utility of self-sampling and identify circulating proteins associated with SARS-CoV-2 infections by considering the serological phenotypes.” 

While this study focuses on COVID-19, Jochen Schwenk, PhD, a professor of translational proteomics, chair of HUPO’s Human Plasma Proteome Project, and senior author on the paper, noted that the methodology could apply to other conditions that require large population studies to assess the various genetic, phenotypic, and environmental factors involved in diseases development and treatment response.

Jochen Schwenk, PhD, professor of translational proteomics at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, chair of HUPO’s Human Plasma Proteome Project, and senior author on the study [Gustav Ceder]
For the study, the team shipped thousands of kits to people in two major Swedish cities that allowed them to collect their samples at home. Specifically, they sent kits to 2,000 random households in Stockholm in the spring of 2020. The team sent out another 2,000 kits to random households in Stockholm and Gothenburg in the summer of 2021 after vaccines against COVID-19 became available allowing them to learn more about the immune response and the effects of the vaccines. 

The kits are developed by Swedish medtech company Capitainer. The company’s qDBS system, which was used for the study, features a capillary system mounted on a card for capturing blood from finger pricks. It includes a smart chip that ensures that patients capture precise volumes of blood—10 microliters—as well as a colored indicator that lets them know that their sample has been successfully captured. Kits also come with instructions for safely and sterilely collecting blood samples. The same kit was used in Harvard University’s VIVID study, which aimed to determine the effects of vitamin D supplementation on COVID-19 disease progression and post-exposure prophylaxis. 

An image showing the sampling device that was used to collect blood samples form the population
A sample collection system developed by Capitainer was used to collect blood samples from the target population. [Gustav Ceder]
Once they obtained their samples, patients sent the cards with their blood samples back to the researchers for analysis. A concern was whether enough people would return the kits to the laboratory for analysis. However the response from the populace was very positive with more than half of households sending cards back with blood samples—about 1,100 kits—and questionnaires filled out, Schwenk said. He added that the people that returned their samples were generally representative of Stockholm’s population although young men did appear to be underrepresented in the cohort. 

According to the paper, the scientists conducted three studies with a subset of the samples they received and patients were assigned to studies based on their serostatus and self-reported information. “We compared seropositive with seronegative subjects (study 1) and donors classified into the early or post-infection phases (study 2) from the first wave of the pandemic,” they wrote. “We also studied seropositive and seronegative subjects from the third wave of the pandemic who were not vaccinated at sampling (study 3).”  

Participants in the first two studies came from the first round of tests sent out in spring 2020 while those in the third study came from the second batch of tests. In total, the team looked at data from 228 individuals for the studies.

They tested the samples for over 250 blood proteins associated with cardiovascular disease and metabolism using proximity extension assays developed by Olink Proteomics. Blood samples collected from seropositive and seronegative people early on in the pandemic revealed various proteins involved in immunity, inflammation, coagulation, and stress response, according to the results. The data also showed that blood samples collected later in the pandemic had differing levels of a virus receptor on B cells. 

Schwenk and his team will apply lessons learned from this initial study including some of the best practices they picked up for treating samples and data in future studies. They are also optimistic about the feasibility of conducting studies like this one in other disease areas. For example, a similar approach could be used to collect data from patients with seasonal allergies perhaps before and after they have received a particular intervention or treatment or to assess changes in inflammation proteins in response to allergens, he said. 

Furthermore, because the infrastructure requirements for this kind of testing are relatively minimal compared to traditional blood testing, a methodology like this could also be applied to study diseases in resource-limited regions or in populations in hard-to-reach geographic locations. 

The post COVID-19 Infections Detected in Dried Blood Spots via At-Home Proteomic Profiling appeared first on GEN - Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

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Analyst who predicted interest rates recent rise unveils new target

A veteran analyst with over 50 years of experience updates his interest rate outlook.



The Federal Reserve has increased the federal funds rate by 5.25 percentage points since spring 2022, causing Treasury yields and mortgage rates to jump to levels last seen in the 1990s.

Rising rates have done what the Fed intended, crimp inflation, but they've also contributed to a housing affordability crisis that's frustrating many would-be homebuyers.

Over the winter, homebuyers got some relief when optimism of Fed rate cuts in 2024 helped yields on the  10-year Treasury note yields used by banks to set mortgage rates to dip. However, that break may be short-lived, given yields are climbing again, leaving many wondering what could happen next. 

One person unsurprised by recent interest rate volatility is TheStreet Pro's Bruce Kamich, an analyst who has tracked markets for over 50 years. 

In 2022, he correctly predicted that 10-year yields would soar, lifting mortgage rates to 8%. Then, he accurately forecast last November that rates would fall. And, in February, he correctly said the "direction of interest rates is up." 

Kamich recently updated his interest rate outlook, and given his track record, it may be worth paying attention to what he thinks is next for interest rates.

Analyst Bruce Kamich revamps his interest rate target.

Image source: Shutterstock/TheStreet

Inflation isn't beat (yet)

The Federal Reserve's decisions on interest rate policy are governed by a dual mandate to support low inflation and unemployment. That's not an easy tightrope to walk, especially since Covid disrupted everything in 2020.

The pandemic forced central banks worldwide to embrace a zero-interest-rate policy to avoid recessions and keep people working. In the U.S., the rock-bottom rates arguably worked too well.

Related: The Fed's stock market influence, like inflation pressure, continues to fade

While they kept the economic lights on, they also provided tinder for inflation to soar in 2022 by providing easy-access to money that fueled speculation. It didn't help matters that the world suffered a supply chain disruption due to War in Ukraine and the Ever Given accident that blocked the Suez Canal.

To quell runaway inflation, Fed chair Jerome Powell had to pivot from "inflation is transitory" to the most hawkish rate policy since Paul Volcker broke the back of inflation in the 1980s. 

Inflation has indeed retreated from its peak near 9% in June 2022 to 3.2% in February. Yet, the combination of higher prices and higher loan rates has squeezed corporate and household budgets. As a result, businesses have ratcheted back expansion and hiring plans while consumers have shifted money to necessities from discretionary goods and services.

Those changes slowed the economy in early 2023, evidenced by consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth and lower corporate profits. The economy rebounded in the second half of the year, lifting earnings per share into 2024, but inflation is still a concern.

While the Consumer Price Index headline inflation of 3.2% is much better than what was witnessed in 2022 and early 2023, progress has stalled. For instance, CPI was 3% in June 2023, so inflation is higher than it was last summer.

Interest rates may likely stay higher for longer

The easy-money policies exiting Covid led many to refinance their homes at rates that were below 3%. Those owners aren't giving up those low rates readily, causing available housing inventory to remain tepid and home prices to increase. 

According to the National Association of Realtors, in December, existing home sales were down 3% year-over-year in February, and median home prices increased 5.7% from February 2023 to $384,500- the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year price increases.

More Real Estate:

High prices are thwarting homebuyers, and sadly, rates may not offer much help over the long term.

Bruce Kamich is a technical analyst who tracks interest rate trends rather than interpret Fed speeches for insight into what could happen to rates next.

His technical analysis of the interest rate market is behind his accurate prediction for higher rates in 2022, lower rates since last November, and higher rates since February.

His most recent analysis isn't likely to win him many fans among house shoppers.

"The yield of the 10-Year Treasury (TNX) is testing the 4.40% level Tuesday and is at a new high rate since ending its decline in late December," said Kamich. "In the daily bar chart of the yield on the 10-Year, I can see [rates] have trended higher since late December. The slope of the 50-day moving average line and the slower-to-react 200-day line are positive. The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) oscillator has been above the zero line since early February."

Moving averages, which smooth data over time, and MACD, a momentum indicator, are used by technical analysts to spot trends. The fact that moving averages are pointing upwards and the MACD is tilted positive suggests higher rates.

How much higher could they go? Anything can happen, but Kamich's point-and-figure chart calculations offer potential interest rate targets.

Using a daily P&F chart, he calculated a 5.35% target for the 10-year yield that would exceed last year's 5% peak yield. 

Banks usually add 1.5% to 3% to the 10-year yield to set 30-year mortgage rates, so Kamich's updated target doesn't offer comfort to would be homebuyers.

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill Targeting mRNA Vaccines In Food

Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill Targeting mRNA Vaccines In Food

Following concerns over research to embed vaccines in produce, the Tennessee…



Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill Targeting mRNA Vaccines In Food

Following concerns over research to embed vaccines in produce, the Tennessee Senate has passed a bill which would require any food containing vaccines or vaccine materials to be labeled as pharmaceutical drugs.

Lettuce grows under artificial lights on an automated growing rack at a farm in Nottingham, Maryland, on April 14, 2023.

The bill, HB 1894, was passed by the Senate in a 23-6 vote on March 28 after the state House passed it 73-22 on March 4. It awaits the governor's signature.

The bill comes in response to a University of California-Riverside research project looking into whether mRNA which targets pathogens could be implanted into edible plants, which would then be consumed. The research was funded by a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

"You would have to get a prescription for that to make sure that we know how much of the lettuce you have to eat based off of your body type so we don’t under-vaccinate you, which leads to the possibility of the efficacy of the drug being compromised, or we overdose you based off how much lettuce is [eaten]," said Republican state Rep. Scott Cepicky during a House committee meeting in February, WKRN-TV reports.

Cepicky said that the bill, which local media described as a move targeting "vaccine lettuce," would classify foods modified to act as vaccines, as pharmaceuticals.

"So if you want to consume them you would go to your doctor and get a prescription," he said.

In a 2021 press release, UC Riverside associate professor of Botany and Plant Sciences, Juan Pablo, said "We are testing this approach with spinach and lettuce and have long-term goals of people growing it in their own gardens," adding "Farmers could also eventually grow entire fields of it."

According to Pablo, "Ideally, a single plant would produce enough mRNA to vaccinate a single person."

Another researcher, Nicole Steinmetz, said in the same release that they planned to use nanoparticles or "plant viruses, for gene delivery to plants."

When asked by WKRN-TV about the status of the research, a UC Riverside spokesperson said that the project is not yet complete.

"Research into the process of having plant chloroplasts express vaccine chemistry is ongoing. There are no definitive results to report," said Jules Berinstein after the Tennessee bill was passed.

Democrat Senators oppose

During the debate on the Tennessee Senate Floor, some lawmakers questioned the need for the bill.

"Does the sponsor know of any instances of there being food offered in the state of Tennessee that contains vaccines in some kind of a retail or public forum?" asked state Sen. Heidi Campbell.

Rep. Cepicky hit back, highlighting in February that a Kentucky company has already been "infecting growing tobacco plants with a genetically modified coronavirus" to see if it can produce antibodies for a potential vaccine, adding that the company "can already do this right now."

Massie sounds the alarm

In 2023, US Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) raised concerns over the use of federal money to create "transgenic edible vaccines," which would transform edible plants such as spinach and lettuce into mRNA vaccine delivery vehicles.

In September 2023 during a debate over an appropriations bill, Massie highlighted an incident in which an edible vaccine was introduced into a corn crop used to feed pigs in order to mitigate diarrhea. The corn crop, however, became commingled with a soybean crop - contaminating 500,000 bushels that had to be recalled.

"Do we want humans eating vaccines that were grown in corn meant to stop pigs from getting diarrhea? I don’t think we want that to happen. Yet that almost happened, and it could happen," said Massie. "There is another case where the pollen cross-contaminated another crop of corn, and 155 acres of corn had to be burned. What are the cases where we’re not discovering this? I think it’s dangerous to play God with our food."

Tyler Durden Tue, 04/02/2024 - 18:40

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Two Weeks To Flatten Became Eight Months To Change The Election

Two Weeks To Flatten Became Eight Months To Change The Election

Via The Brownstone Institute,

In 1845, Congress established Election Day…



Two Weeks To Flatten Became Eight Months To Change The Election

Via The Brownstone Institute,

In 1845, Congress established Election Day as the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. The Act sought “to establish a uniform time” for Americans to cast their ballots for president. Historically, voters needed to provide a valid reason – such as illness or military service – to qualify for absentee ballots.

But Covid served as a pretext to overturn that tradition. Just 25% of votes in 2020 occurred at the polls on Election Day. Mail-in voting more than doubled. Key swing states eliminated the need to provide a valid reason to cast absentee ballots. The virus and racial justice became justifications to disregard verification methods like signature requirements.

Rejection rates for absentee ballots plummeted by more than 80% in some states as the Covid regime welcomed an unprecedented increase in mail-in voting. Politicians and media outlets ignored rampant voter fraud in the months leading up to the election. They treated concerns surrounding absentee voting as obscure conspiracy theories despite a bipartisan commission describing it as “the largest source of potential voter fraud” just a decade earlier. 

It is now clear that the overhaul of our election system was a deliberate initiative from the outset of the pandemic response. In March 2020, when the Government’s official policy was still “two weeks to flatten the curve,” the administrative state began instituting the infrastructure to hijack the November presidential election, more than 30 weeks beyond when the Covid response was supposed to end. 

March 2020: The CDC and the CARES Act Meddle in the Election

On March 12, 2020, the CDC issued a recommendation for states and localities to “encourage voters to use voting methods that minimize direct contact with other people,” including “mail-in methods of voting.”

Two weeks later, President Trump signed the $2 trillion CARES Act, which offered states $400 million to re-engineer their election processes for that November. 

At the time, proponents of the CARES Act argued it was necessary to reopen the country. For example, the New York Times argued it was “critical to fund and implement the safety measures necessary to let Americans get back to work, school and play without a recurrence of the virus.”

But political actors immediately plotted ways to use the funds to entrench their power long past the proposed two-week lockdowns. Nearly every swing state announced plans to promote mail-in voting and reduce electoral safeguards in a Congressional report

“Michigan will use the funds to bolster vote by mail,” the report announced. Governor Gretchen Whitmer received $11.3 million from the CARES Act to change election procedures in her state. In November, 57% of Michigan voters (over 3 million people) cast their ballot by mail. For the first time, the state did not require a reason for absentee voting, and mail-in ballots more than doubled. President Trump would go on to lose Michigan by just 150,000 votes.

When Trump signed the CARES Act, just 0.05% of Michigan residents had tested positive for Covid. The state’s political leaders later boasted that their agenda had not been focused on public health. “Even when there’s not a pandemic, once people begin using the absentee ballot process, they’re much more likely to continue to do so in the future,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson after Election Day.

Pennsylvania received $14.2 million from the CARES Act to address its election process. At the time, the infection rate in the Keystone State was 1 in 6,000 (0.017%). Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s administration told the federal government it would use its plans to increase absentee voting. In November, 2.5 million Pennsylvanians voted by mail. President Biden won 75% of those votes – a difference of 1.4 million. President Trump lost the state by under 100,000 votes.

The CARES Act provided Wisconsin with over $7 million for election matters. Democratic Governor Tom Evers said the state would use funds to provide “absentee ballot envelopes,” to develop “the statewide voter registration system and online absentee ballot request portal,” and “to account for additional costs” related to mail-in voting.

Governor Evers explained, “Having as many absentee ballots as possible is absolutely a top priority [and] always has been given the emergency we’re in.” Eight months later, 1.9 million of the state’s 3.3 million voters cast their ballot by mail. The rejection rate for absentee ballots plummeted from 1.4% in 2016 to 0.2%. President Biden won Wisconsin by just 20,000 votes. 

Democratic activists were unsatisfied with the $400 million added to the national debt to reshape the elections. Mark Zuckerberg’s foundation offered an additional $300 million. In Time, Molly Ball celebrated the “shadow campaign that saved the 2020 election.” She quoted Amber McReynolds, the president of “nonpartisan National Vote at Home Institute,” who called the government’s reluctance to provide additional funding “a failure at the federal level.” Despite her professed “non-partisanship,” President Biden rewarded her service by appointing her to the Board of the US Postal Service. 

In Time, Ball hailed the mail-in activists’ efforts, which included targeting “Black voters” who may have otherwise “preferred to exercise their franchise in person.” They focused on social media outreach to try to convince people that a “prolonged [vote] count wasn’t a sign of problems.” Their informational warfare may have changed Americans’ perception on mail-in voting, but it could not eradicate the predictable controversies that it created. 

April and May 2020: Voter Fraud Skyrockets

In May 2020, New Jersey held municipal elections and required all voting take place via mail. The State’s third largest city, Paterson, held its election for city council. The results should have been a national scandal that ended the push for mail-in voting.

Shortly after the election, the Postal Service discovered “hundreds of mail-in ballots” in one town mailbox. A Snapchat video showed a man named Abu Razyen illegally handling a stack of ballots he said was for candidate Shanin Khalique. Khalique initially defeated his opponent by just eight votes. A recount found their vote was tied.

Paterson resident Ramona Javier never received her mail-in ballot for the election. Neither did eight of her family members and neighbors, yet they were all listed as having voted. “We did not receive vote-by-mail ballots and thus we did not vote,” she told the press. “This is corruption. This is fraud.”

Election officials rejected 19% of the ballots from Paterson, a city with over 150,000 residents. While Paterson’s election was particularly troublesome, mail-in ballots were problematic across the state. Thirty other New Jersey municipalities held vote-by-mail elections that day, and the average disqualification rate was 9.6%.

New Jersey brought voting fraud charges against City Councilman Michael Jackson, Councilman-Elect Alex Mendez, and two other men for their “criminal conduct involving mail-in ballots during the election.” All four were charged with illegally collecting, procuring, and submitting mail-in ballots.

A state judge later ordered a new vote, finding that the May election “was not the fair, free and full expression of the intent of the voters. It was rife with mail in vote procedural violations constituting nonfeasance and malfeasance.”

Politicians refused to concede that the incident revealed the vulnerability of absentee balloting. Instead, Governor Phil Murphy told the press that the scandal was a good sign. “I view that as a positive data point,” he argued. “Some guys tried to screw around with the system. They got caught by law enforcement. They’ve been indicted. They’ll pay a price.”

Murphy and other allies of Joe Biden ignored the threat, presuming the forces would not hurt their hopes that November. 

In Wisconsin, the April 2020 primary election offered further evidence of the challenges and corruption surrounding mail-in voting. Following the primary, a postal center outside Milwaukee discovered three tubs of absentee ballots that never reached their intended recipients. Fox Point, a village outside Milwaukee, has a population of under 7,000 people. 

Beginning in March, Fox Point received between 20 and 50 undelivered absentee ballots per day. In the weeks leading up to the election, the village manager said that increased to between 100 and 150 ballots per day. On election day, the town received a plastic mail bin with 175 unmailed ballots. “We’re not sure why this happened,” said the village manager. “Nobody seems to be able to tell me why.”

Democrats admitted the system threatened election integrity. “This has all the makings of a Florida 2000 if we have a close race,” said Gordon Hintz, the Democratic minority leader in the Wisconsin State Assembly. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo went further. “It’s a harder system to administer, and obviously it’s a harder system to police writ large,” he said. Cuomo continued, “People showing up, people actually showing ID, is still the easiest system to assure total integrity.”

The Wisconsin primary also featured special elections for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. A liberal judge upset the incumbent conservative justice, and partisans embraced their overhaul of the electoral system. The New York Times reported: “Wisconsin Democrats are working to export their template for success – intense digital outreach and a well-coordinated vote-by-mail operation – to other states in the hope that it will improve the party’s chances in local and statewide elections and in the quest to unseat President Trump in November.”

Despite the corruption, the lost ballots, and the admissions of threats to electoral integrity, the process had been a success in political terms; their candidate had won. The ends had justified the means. Citizens lost faith in their election process, and political leaders readily admitted that their concerns were justified; but the professional politicos and their mouthpiece, the New York Times, characterized the disaster as a “template for success.”

Controversies continued to emerge surrounding mail-in ballots.

In September 2020, a government contractor threw Trump mail-in ballots in the trash in Pennsylvania. ABC News reported that “ballots had been found in a dumpster next to the elections building.” A week later, three trays of mail with absentee ballots were found in a ditch in Wisconsin.

In Nevada, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony offered gifts, including gift cards, jewelry, and clothing to Native Americans who showed up to vote. Activist Bethany Sam organized the event, where she donned a Biden-Harris mask and stood in front of the Biden-Harris campaign bus.

Voters in California received ballots with no place to vote for president, over 20% of ballots mailed to voters in Teaneck, New Jersey, had the wrong Congressional districts listed, and Franklin County, Ohio reported sending over 100,000 absentee ballots to the wrong address due to an “envelope stuffing error.”

In October, Texas police arrested Carrollton Mayoral Candidate Zul Mirza Mohamed on 109 counts of fraud for forging mail-in ballots. Authorities discovered fraudulent ballots at Mohamed’s residence with fictitious licenses. That same month, a Pennsylvania district attorney charged Lehigh County Elections Judge Everett “Erika” Bickford with “prying into ballots” and altering the entries from a local election that June. That election was decided by just 55 votes.

Reports continued to emerge after the election. The New York Post uncovered election records that showed dead people had cast absentee ballots that November.

California law enforcement arrested two men with a 41-count criminal complaint for allegedly submitting over 8,000 fraudulent voter registration applications on behalf of homeless people. Their goal was to get Carlos Montenegro, one of the defendants, elected Mayor of Hawthorne, a city in Los Angeles County. The state also alleged that Montenegro committed perjury by falsifying names and signatures in his paperwork for his mayoral campaign.

In 2022, a Georgia investigation found more than 1,000 absentee ballots that never left the Cobb County government facility. Two months earlier, mail-in ballots from the 2020 election were discovered in a Baltimore USPS facility. In 2023, Michigan police found hundreds of mail-in ballots from the 2020 election in a township clerk’s storage unit.

All of this was entirely predictable, but perhaps that was the point. From the outset, the Covid regime sought to abolish the safeguards of our election system despite well-known concerns regarding election integrity. 

The United States of Amnesia: Voter Fraud Was Nothing New

The Covid regime’s messaging was clear: only conspiratorial lunatics would question the integrity of an election system that more than doubles its mail-in voting. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified, “We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.”

But this wasn’t true. It contradicted long-standing conclusions regarding electoral integrity. Just as the public health apparatus abandoned thousands of years of epidemiological practice to implement lockdowns, the media and elected officials abandoned principles that until that moment had been common sense.

Following the controversy of the 2000 Presidential election, the United States formed a bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform. President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican, chaired the group.

After five years of research, the group published its final report – “Building Confidence in U.S. Elections.” It offered a series of recommendations to reduce voter fraud, including enacting voter-ID laws and limiting absentee voting. The commission was unequivocal: “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.”

The report continued: “Citizens who vote at home, at nursing homes, at the workplace, or in church are more susceptible to pressure, overt and subtle, or to intimidation. Vote buying schemes are far more difficult to detect when citizens vote by mail.”

The findings were reinforced by subsequent election scandals. 

A 2012 New York Times headline read: “Error and Fraud at Issue as Absentee Voting Rises.” The article made the front page of the paper and echoed the concerns of the Carter-Baker Commission. “Fraud Easier via Mail,” the paper explained.

“You could steal some absentee ballots or stuff a ballot box or bribe an election administrator or fiddle with an electronic voting machine,” said Yale Law professor Heather Gerken. That explains, she said, “why all the evidence of stolen elections involves absentee ballots and the like.”

The Times continued the potential corruption of mail-in ballots. “On the most basic level, absentee voting replaces the oversight that exists at polling places with something akin to an honor system,” the author wrote. The Times then cited US Circuit Court Judge Richard A. Posner: “Absentee voting is to voting in person as a take-home exam is to a proctored one.”

The report went on: “Voters in nursing homes can be subjected to subtle pressure, outright intimidation or fraud. The secrecy of their voting is easily compromised. And their ballots can be intercepted both coming and going.”

Historic controversies supported this consensus. The 1997 Miami mayoral election resulted in 36 arrests for absentee-ballot fraud. A judge voided the results and ordered the city to hold a new election due to “a pattern of fraudulent, intentional, and criminal conduct.” The results were reversed in the subsequent election.

Following Dallas’s 2017 City Council race, authorities sequestered 700 mail-in ballots signed “Jose Rodriguez.” Elderly voters alleged that party activists had forged their signatures on their mail-in ballots. Miguel Hernandez later pled guilty to the crime of forging their signatures after collecting unfilled ballots, and using them to support his candidate of choice.

The following year, it appeared that Republic Mark Harris defeated Democrat Dan McCready in a North Carolina congressional race. Election officials noticed irregularities in the mail-in votes and refused to certify the election, citing evidence and “claims of…concerted fraudulent activities.” The state ordered a special election the following year.

In 2018, the Democratic National Commission challenged an Arizona law that set safeguards around absentee voting, including limiting who could handle mail-in ballots. US District Judge Douglas L. Rayes, an Obama appointee, upheld the law. “Indeed, mail-in ballots by their very nature are less secure than ballots cast in person at polling locations,” he wrote. He found that “the prevention of voter fraud and preservation of public confidence in election integrity” were important state interests and cited the Carter-Baker Commission’s finding that “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.”

The rest of the world recognized the obvious threat that mail-in voting poses to election integrity. In 1975, France banned postal ballots after rampant voter fraud. Ballots were cast with the names of dead Frenchmen, and political activists in Corsica stole ballots and bribed voters. 

In 1991, Mexico mandated voter photo IDs and banned absentee ballots after the Institutional Revolutionary Party repeatedly committed fraud to maintain power. In Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, photo ID is required to get an absentee ballot.

In August 2020, economist John Lott analyzed how Covid was being used as a pretext to overhaul electoral standards in the United States. He wrote

Thirty-seven states have so far changed their mail-in voting procedures this year in response to the Coronavirus. Despite frequent claims that President Trump’s warning about vote fraud/voting buying with mail-in ballots is “baselessly” or “without evidence” about mail-in vote fraud, there are numerous examples of vote fraud and vote buying with mail-in ballots in the United States and across the world. Indeed, concerns over vote fraud and vote buying with mail-in ballots causes the vast majority of countries to ban mail-in voting unless the citizen is living abroad.

There are fraud problems with mail-in absentee ballots but the problems with universal mail-in ballots are much more significant. Still most countries ban even absentee ballots for people living in their countries.

Most developed countries ban absentee ballots unless the citizen is living abroad or require Photo-IDs to obtain those ballots. Even higher percentages of European Union or other European countries ban absentee for in country voters.

Political actors treated opposition to absentee balloting with scorn while ignoring its history of corruption. Mail-in voting may have been the decisive factor in the 2020 election, but Trump and his allies searched for other explanations to avoid his complicity in signing the CARES Act. 

The Trump campaign promised to produce “irrefutable” evidence that proved Trump won the election “in a landslide.” “I’m going to release the Kraken,” one Trump election lawyer told Lou Dobbs in November 2020. President Trump and Rudy Giuliani tweeted blame at Dominion voting machines. Sean Hannity said privately that Giuliani was “acting like an insane person.” 

Two days later, he told viewers about a “software error” from Dominion that “wrongfully awarded Joe Biden thousands of ballots that were cast for President Trump, until the problem was amazingly fixed.” In August 2023, Trump announced that he would release an “irrefutable report” demonstrating voter fraud in Georgia. He canceled the announcement two days later.

In the process, they ignored a far more obvious explanation.

Presidential elections in the 21st century have been decided by an average of 44 electoral votes. Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin offer a combined 62 votes in the Electoral College.

Under the pretext of Covid, states abolished their electoral safeguards.

They turned Election Day into a month of voting.

After prominent Democrats refused to certify the 2000, 2004, and 2016 elections, the victors chastised any concerns for electoral integrity as attacks on democracy.

This is all theater. From the outset of the pandemic response, the liberalization of voting rules was integral, all justified based on nonscientific grounds while invoking the cover of science. It wasn’t stopping disease spread that drove the dramatic upheaval in the American system of voting that has caused such widespread distrust. It was the drive for a result different from one that swept the country four years earlier. 

Tyler Durden Tue, 04/02/2024 - 14:00

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