Guest opinion: Facts trump speculation

On Inauguration Day 2021, Representative Chris Stewart wrote a piece in the Deseret News that we should pursue mutual respect, healing and “… boldly investigate questions of election integrity…” As it relates to mutual respect and healing, I agree. However, I question our ability to heal as a Party (Republican) and as a nation if we continue to embrace speculation fueled by misinformation, especially as it relates to our recent election. 

By profession, I am an attorney. Throughout my ten years of practicing law in areas such as Washington, DC, Nevada, American Samoa and Utah, one legal standard remains constant: evidence needs to be supported by facts in order to sustain the claim. 

When a claim is made, the person filing the claim has the burden to prove it. In civil law, the plaintiff bears the burden to prove the claim by “preponderance of the evidence,” which means that the claim is more likely than not to be true. The defendant does not have to provide evidence to dispute the claim because the burden is on the plaintiff to prove their claims. 

In our courts of law, one cannot make a claim without citing specific evidence which is supported by facts. If one tries to introduce evidence without facts in a trial, the opposing attorney objects by stating, “Calls for speculation” as our courts recognize that speculation is not evidence. Failure to introduce evidence supported by facts will result in the dismissal of the claim as justice does not run on speculation. 

In the November 2020 election, the claim made by many Republicans was that the election was fraudulent. From this belief, the phrase “Stop the Steal” arose. Republicans from all parts of our country have raised this rallying cry. 

This claim of fraud arguably helped fuel the mob that attacked our nation’s Capital on January 6 th . After the mob attack, a challenge against certification of the presidential election for Pennsylvania was made by seven Republican Senators and 121 Republican Representatives, including Representative Stewart. 

The problem with this challenge and allegations of election fraud made by many of my fellow Republicans is no evidence supported by the facts seems to exist. 

In response to Texas v. Pennsylvania, filed at the U.S. Supreme Court, President Trump tweeted, “The Supreme Court has a chance to save our Country from the greatest Election abuse in the history of the United States. 78% of the people feel (know!) the Election was RIGGED.” However, our courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have not validated this claim. 

In Trump v. Boockvar, filed in Pennsylvania, Judge Brann inquired why the case was filed. Rudy Giuliani responded “This is not a fraud case.” Fellow lawyer Linda Kearns said that she was “not proceeding” on allegations of fraud. 

In Trump v. Montgomery Board of Election, filed in Pennsylvania, Judge Haaz posed the following question “Are you claiming that there is any fraud in connection with these 592 disputed ballots?” Trump’s lawyer Jonathan Goldstein replied, “To my knowledge at present, no.” 

In Canvass of Absentee v. Trump, filed in Pennsylvania, attorneys for President Trump sought to challenge 2,177 mail-in absentee ballot votes. After examining the case, Judge Baldi ruled “The parties specifically stipulated in their comprehensive stipulation of facts that there exists no evidence of any fraud, misconduct, or any impropriety with respect to the challenged ballots.” 

In Wood v. Raffensperger, filed in Georgia, Judge Grimberg held “It is well established that garden-variety election disputes do not rise to the level of a constitutional deprivation.” 

In all, 62 legal challenges throughout the United States have questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. The opportunity to be heard by those challenging the election was given and their ability to convert claims of fraud to evidence supported by facts afforded. 61 cases addressing claims of fraud or questions of election integrity have been rejected by U.S. courts. 

In the outlier case, Judge Leavitt ruled that extending a deadline to allow voters to provide identification to cure ballots could not be done. 

The 2020 presidential election was a disappointment to many in my party. However, claims of fraud do not stand the test of scrutiny as the ones who make the claims have failed to prove that fraud actually occurred with evidence supported by facts. 

Feelings aren’t facts. The hope of something being true is far different than the fact of it being true. We cannot let speculation, fiction, or conspiracy replace evidence supported by facts in our country as it relates to elections. 

We cannot claim to uphold the rule of law as Republicans while persisting in beliefs of election fraud which has been rejected in courts all across the United States. We believe in the rule of law, not the rule of speculation. 

Representative Stewart recently stated “The greatest threat facing our country? No one knows what is true anymore.” I agree as it relates to many in the Republican Party, but with one important change: No one relies on the facts anymore. 

Tony F. Graf, Jr. is a life-long Republican, Tooele resident and an attorney