We’ve had massive protests in the United States following the last two Presidential Elections contesting the legitimacy of the results. In 2020, anti-Biden protestors took to the streets all across America with claims that vote counting machines were manipulated or that social media companies illegally censored information that could have swayed election results. Similarly In 2016, anti-Trump protestors gathered in pink hats, gaining enough momentum to push congress into investigating Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia during his election campaign.
As far as our judicial system is concerned, the claims against Trump and Biden have both been disproven as baseless conspiracy theories.
Even though some still cling to the belief that there was foul play at either election, it’s now considered a minority view. Most people today accept that our legal system worked with our best and brightest investigators to conduct thorough due diligence, and came to the correct conclusions that no foul play took place.
While Americans were focused on their own 2020 presidential race, there was another presidential election fraught with allegations of fraud and corruption taking place across the globe in Belarus.
Belarus is a relatively new Soviet Bloc country, only existing in its current form since 1991. In its first ever presidential election, Alexander Lukashenko was democratically elected president.
However in recent times, Belarussians began raising eyebrows as Lukashenko went on to win the next 5 elections, holding his position as president to this day, almost 30 years later.
According to a thorough investigations by the Belarusian government, there was no election fraud, and Lukashenko keeps winning elections simply because he has the strong ongoing support of his people. It’s not an unreasonable claim. FDR won 4 consecutive presidential elections in the United States, while Angela Merkel has held her position as German Chancellor since 2005 – more than 16 years at time of writing.
However unlike FDR or Merkel’s numerous reelections, the international community and foreign government officials have disputed the Belarusian government’s claims that “There is nothing to see” in regards to election fraud.
There have also been non-stop protests in the streets of Belarus alleging election fraud that have continued for 9 months at time of writing (February 2021). Why are they able to sustain these efforts and gain the support of the international community, while protests against U.S. election results quickly fizzled out?
The simplest answer is margins. The 2020 U.S. presidential election was won by less than 5% in favor of Biden, and the 2016 election was won by Trump despite having less of the popular vote, due to Trump collecting more electoral colleges.
Even if there was election fraud, the manipulation needed to overturn the result would only be 5% or less. So even if half the country contested the election results or the legitimacy of the investigations that followed, there would be an almost identical number of people who would oppose their opposition.
On the other hand there have been indications that Lukashenko’s loss was by a landslide. In an independent initiative encouraging people to send in photographs of their ballots, 95.56% of votes were for opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. It is no surprise that the people submitting their votes to a third party organization are going to be overwhelmingly the people who were unhappy with the election results, and would heavily skew towards an anti- Lukashenko candidate. However, the votes submitted in favor of Tsikhanouskaya to the independent organization alone exceeded the official government tally by almost two folds, all but confirming electoral fraud.
This type of independent verification would be impossible in the United States where elections are contested much more closely.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of fraud, public protests, and pressure from foreign nations, Lukashenko remains Belarus’ president.
The majority of Belarussians believe Lukashenko cheated and don’t want him to be president. They’ve taking matters into their own hands, protesting for over 9 months, going on labor strikes, pleading to the international community. And still, Lukashenko holds on to power.
Think about that for a second. If Belarusians can’t remove a president who is arguably supported by less than 20% of people while also having crystal clear evidence of fraud against him, how on earth are Americans supposed to remove a president who has the support of roughly 50% of the population?
It would be impossible.
If there is one thing we can learn from Belarusian’s pain, it is that overthrowing a corrupt government that’s willing to rig an election, is never going to happen through peaceful protests.
Peaceful protestors and opposition party members in Belarus have been met with jail, torture, rape, and beatings.
It is my understanding that there is no concrete evidence of enough voter fraud to sway the 2016 or 2020 United States presidential elections.
However, we must keep a close eye on how the government handles protestors and those with different stances than state sponsored investigations and media.
Because if it starts to look like Belarus, we’ll end up being like Belarus.