Wearing masks and gloves, volunteer workers open absentee ballots, make sure that they are signed and stamped, and put into a machine to count on Elecetion Day 2020 at the Hartford City Hall. Yehyun Kim / ctmirror.org

To those who are surprised that the 2020 presidential election is continuing through recount and evaluations for potential voter fraud, I can tell you that in elections, like in life, you cannot be assured of fairness and you can also receive  unexpected breaks.

Gary A. Franks Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

In my first election for Congress 30 years ago in Connecticut, I saw both; and many who have engaged in political battles could also appreciate this fact. And though I have always been somewhat of a political aberration, I can say that I have seen election improprieties up close and personal.

This was a COVID-19 election. COVID led to the need for mail-in votes which create a variety of state election procedures. COVID caused more mail-in votes for safety reasons, but it opened the door to the possibility for voter fraud. It has to be noted that even during regular elections there have been cases of fraud. It is reasonable to believe that fraud could have occurred in this presidential election and it is for the best that we make sure it did not.

Can challenges to the odds be worth pursuing?  I am evidence of that sometimes the answer is yes. I went to the Congressional nominating convention in 1990 in fifth place out of five candidates with low man out being the initial rule. Under the threat of a lawsuit, the process played out for seven hours and I was the unanimous choice of the delegates. You figure. Praise God.

I have experienced and seen the inner workings of election fraud personally. In fact, I was helped in my victory 30 years ago when Democrats in the largest city in my Connecticut district were at war with each other due to the arrests and convictions of up to ten folks, equally divided among the two factions due to blatant election fraud. When the person heading one of the factions was running against me for Congress, I naturally benefited.

Four years later my opponent’s brother committed 17 federal election crimes against me that could have warranted 17 years in jail and a $1.7 million fine. Problem here was nobody told me, and he pleaded guilty three years later after I lost my election. He was given house arrest, probation and a small fine.

Two years later I had reports from the community of my opponent’s team giving out “new names and addresses” to folks to have the ‘walking dead’ vote. Keep in mind in many states only reciting your name and address of a person on the voting rolls would allow you to vote.

As an elected official for 12 years until the age of 43, I frequently drew the ire of liberal Democrats. I was often called an aberration as a Black Republican, a conservative in liberal Connecticut.  About 25 years ago I was physically attacked on the stairs of a federal courthouse by the father of a sitting Congresswoman (he was arrested for attacking a Congressman/me) because of my testimony before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Savannah, GA for the “heresy” of saying that “we did not need to have Black districts, brown districts, yellow districts, or red districts in order for minorities, Blacks in particular, to get elected to Congress. We merely needed American Districts.”  My district was 92% white. The Court agreed.

I was against racial gerrymandering, a “crime” that got me temporarily booted from the Congressional Black Caucus at the time.  Election fraud and manipulation has been deep inside my political DNA.

So, can bad things happen in our political process? Yes, but lighting can strike you, too. I simply have had a hell of a lot of lighting strikes in my day and it could happen in the presidential election of 2020.

Gary A. Franks served as the U.S. representative for Connecticut’s 5th District from 1991 to 1997. He was the first Black Republican elected to the House in nearly 60 years and was New England’s first Black member of the House. 

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